If anyone was looking for a clue about whether the NCAA baseball tournament shared the unease that a lot of fans have with the new RPI formula, the answer was pretty clear as of Sunday night: They do not.
Fourteen of the top 16 teams in the latest edition of Boyd's World's pseudo-RPIs claimed regional hosting honors in the NCAA's official announcement, and no one from outside the top 18 teams landed one of the first-round events. For the SEC, that meant that Vanderbilt, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina will get to host -- and Arkansas will not.
The other host sites are: Virginia Tech, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, Louisville, Kansas State, N.C. State and Florida State. That's five for the ACC, four for the SEC, three for the Pac-12 and four split among everyone else.
This is probably going to be endlessly chewed over, but the fact of the matter is that the RPI is the formula the NCAA has come up with to rank college baseball teams, and so it's not that much of a surprise that the NCAA's selection committee is going to use it when it comes to deciding tournament questions. Were I to pick a game between, say, Indiana and Arkansas, I would pick the Hogs to win that game.
Zooming out a little bit, the committee's single-minded determination to focus on RPI would seem to bode well for the at-large hopes of Florida and perhaps Texas A&M, but it could be trouble for Auburn. The Gators are No. 31 in the pseudo-RPIs, just behind the Hogs at No. 30. Texas A&M is right behind them at No. 32. Auburn falls all the way down to 39, which is why they might be in trouble.
Think about it this way: There are 64 teams that would be in the tournament. In a perfect world, the 30 automatic bids would go to teams that are among the 64 best teams in the country, and the 64 best teams would all play for the title. In reality, because sports are never perfect, it never works out that way. And so the field is shrunk by every team outside of that ideal 64 that gets in.
Right now, combining the Perfect Game list and the Boyd's World RPIs, I come up with 19 teams that made the field that are not in the top 64. Some of them are close and there are always the nuances of statistics and when Boyd's Worlds numbers were updated, but that's probably pretty close.
So, simply using math (64 minus 19), we come to the conclusion that there's room in the tournament for the top 45 teams. That puts Auburn right on the line, and really too close for comfort, at least if you want to start talking about sure things. If the selection committee is going to mindlessly follow the RPI, then Auburn might be in. But we know that's not the case, because that's why we have a selection committee. They can override the list.
(At the same time, Nebraska is 38th in the RPI and ineligible for the tournament. So that helps Auburn some.)
In short, the devotion so far of the NCAA to the RPIs is enough for Florida and perhaps Texas A&M to feel relatively good about their chances to make the field. But, for Auburn, it's probably going to be a sleepless night until the field is announced on ESPNU tomorrow at noon ET.