Maybe no one took a better swing Saturday night than Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall. After his Yellow Jackets dismantled N.C. State 9-2 in an ACC tournament semifinal Saturday night to improve to 41-16, Hall was asked about his team’s worthiness of a top-eight national seed for the NCAA tournament.
It is a consequential matter as top-eight seeds earn the right to be at home for the regional round and, should they advance, the super-regional round as well. Hall, whose team is ranked as high as sixth and is now No. 7 in RPI, did not bunt.
“I’ll just say it this way,” Hall said. “Louisville won the (ACC) regular-season championship – we beat them two out of three at Louisville. N.C. State was third. So we beat them (Saturday). We have beaten Georgia two out of three, who everybody has in as a top-eight national seed. We have a win over (top-ranked) UCLA. We have a win over (RPI No. 12) West Virginia. Someone said it to me (Saturday), if they added up our wins now in the ACC and the SEC, that we’re something like 25-12. (Accurate, though it’s now 26-12.) So if that is not good enough to be a top-eight national seed, in the league that we play in and the way our team has played down the stretch here, then I have no idea what somebody might be looking at.”
Saturday morning, Baseball America’s bracket projection had Tech as a No. 9 seed, while D1Baseball projected the Jackets to earn a No. 6 seed. The Baseball America forecast bumped Louisville and Texas Tech, both of whom were behind Tech in RPI Saturday morning, ahead of the Jackets. Oklahoma State was ahead of Tech at No. 7, but the Jackets moved ahead of the Cowboys after beating N.C. State Saturday night.
Louisville may have a case as it won the ACC regular-season title by two games over Tech. The Cardinals also have an elite pitching staff, while the Jackets’ staff is good but not great and also dinged by injuries.
Texas Tech (32-13) and Oklahoma State (30-14) have better records than Tech (24-12) against teams in the RPI top 100 and play out of the Big 12, which is seen as a better conference than ACC. Tech also played 12 games against teams with RPI ratings 150 or worse (winning 10), while Texas Tech played six and Oklahoma State only one.
But, obviously, D1Baseball’s projection of Tech as a No. 6 seed indicates that the matter is hardly conclusive. For instance, while Texas Tech and Oklahoma State have better records against top-100 teams, Tech is 19-10 against top-50 teams, while the Cowboys are 12-8 and the Red Raiders are 13-7.
And, as Hall noted, the Jackets took two of three games from Louisville in the Cardinals’ own stadium earlier this season. Further, Tech’s strength of schedule, both overall and non-conference, is considerably stronger than Louisville’s, and the Jackets’ and Cardinals’ records in both categories (overall and non-conference) aren’t too dissimilar.
Regardless, Tech’s placement in the top eight of RPI would seem to bode well. Over the past five years (2014-18), 31 out of 35 power-conference teams that were in the top eight in RPI at the time of field selection received top-eight seeds.
The NCAA will announce the 16 teams who will be regional hosts on Sunday night, though the identities of the top-eight national seeds will not be revealed. The entire field, including the the top-eight seeds, will be announced Monday.
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