Georgia Tech could be facing a tight call in its bid to earn a top-eight national seed for the NCAA tournament.
Baseball America assigned the Yellow Jackets a No. 10 seed on Friday morning, while D1Baseball.com put the Yellow Jackets in the top eight following their 5-4 win over Duke at the ACC tournament on Friday.
Getting a top-eight seed is important as the teams receiving one will be at home for the regional round and then, if they win the regional, will be at home for the super-regional round, as well.
D1Baseball.com declared that Tech “looks like a safe top eight” by getting to the ACC tournament semifinals with its wins over Notre Dame and Duke.
The outlet projected Tech as the No. 8 seed, with Louisville at No. 6, Texas Tech at No. 7, East Carolina at No. 9 and Oklahoma State at No. 10.
However, as of Friday morning, Baseball America had Tech at No. 10. It gave the final three top-eight seeds to Louisville (6), Texas Tech (7) and East Carolina (8) and the No. 9 seed to Oklahoma State.
By measure of RPI, as of 8:30 p.m. Friday evening, Tech was No. 8 in RPI, preceded by Oklahoma State at No. 7 and followed by Louisville at No. 9 and Texas Tech at No. 10.
Tech coach Danny Hall, speaking Thursday, didn’t think there was much need for debate.
“We’ve played a lot of top-25 games with a good record,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of top-50 games with a good record. Our non-conference strength of schedule is very good. Our strength of schedule overall is good. Our RPI is good. We beat Georgia two out of three. We beat Auburn twice. I mean, what else do we need to do to warrant it?”
By measure of record, non-conference strength of schedule, record against non-conference opponents and record against teams in quadrant 1 (opponents ranked 1-50 in RPI) and quadrant 2 (51-100), Tech fared well its neighbors in RPI.
Among the four teams, the most differentiating number could be Louisville’s non-conference strength of schedule compared to the other three teams, but both outlets put the Cardinals ahead of the Jackets. Tech supporters might also note that their team beat Louisville in a series at Louisville.
Louisville does have a 15-4 road record, and recent brackets have indicated that the selection committee has rewarded teams with strong road records against tough competition. The Jackets are hardly shabby at 13-7 (including the aforementioned series win at Louisville), but it is one way that the Cardinals stand out.
To that end, Stanford, which is 12th in RPI, is 16-4 on the road. Further, RPI tends to downgrade teams in the West (opponent winning percentage is a major component of RPI, and the relative sparsity of teams in the West leads to that number tending to .500, as Western teams’ opponents have a greater likelihood of playing each other). Last year, for instance, Oregon State was No. 7 in RPI but was seeded third, the biggest RPI/seed jump of any team that received a top-16 seed.
So the Cardinal could well jump into the top eight and push the Jackets off the bubble.
It adds meaning to Tech’s semifinal against N.C. State and a potential final against either North Carolina or Boston College. The more wins that Tech can stack up, the higher it can push its RPI, which gets the Jackets more safely inside the top eight.
In the past three seasons, 20 of 22 power-conference teams in the top eight at the time of selection earned top-eight seeds. The only two were Ole Miss and South Carolina in 2016. Ole Miss was a No. 5, apparently dinged for a 13-13 record against top-50 teams. South Carolina was a No. 8, pushed off the bubble by Texas Tech and Mississippi State, who moved up from Nos. 14 and 11, respectively. They were both in the top two in road winning percentage and also in the top three in road RPI.
Tech’s resume doesn’t appear to have major blemishes, so the higher it can burrow itself in the top eight, the better its chances.
Tech has a better record than Oklahoma State, but its non-conference strength of schedule is slightly lower. The Cowboys also did better and played more games against top-100 teams (31-15 compared to 23-12).
Georgia Tech would seem to compare favorably with Texas Tech on paper.
The 16 regional hosts will be announced Sunday evening, with the full 64-team field to be revealed on Monday.
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