As the UCF Knights Baseball team enters selection Monday, they will wonder if the run they had in the American Baseball Championship in Clearwater - going 2-2 and reaching the semifinals before losing to Cincinnati 10-6 on Saturday - will be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.
D1 Baseball has UCF as second team out:
While Baseball America has #UCF in the NCAA Tournament, D1 Baseball lists the Knights as team No. 66 in the 64-team field (second team out). https://t.co/QP2y6lYE3h— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) May 27, 2019
But Baseball America has UCF as one of last 4 in as of Monday morning:
Our FINAL bracket projection.— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 27, 2019
The last four in:
By our estimation, there are the 16 teams vying for the final 7 spots in the field. Here’s a look at the resumes of bubble teams and how UCF compares against them:
2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament Bubble Teams
BYU, Texas State and VCU won their conference regular season title, which is significant because the baseball selection committee may decide to reward the regular season champions like Texas State, BYU and VCU with a spot in the field. That would mean up to three bids could be stolen. Of the three, Texas State has the best resume with more with Quad 1 wins and a stronger schedule than both VCU and BYU.
Among the 16 teams we identified on the bubble, UCF is tied for 6th in Q1 (Wins vs Top 50) wins, 4th-most Q2 wins (Top 100), 9th best RPI, 9th toughest overall schedule, and 5th toughest non-conference schedule. That is important, as the committee likes not only overall schedule strength but also non-conference schedule strength.
UCF has wins over Auburn, UConn, at Florida, at Florida State, at Miami and at Florida Atlantic on the resume, all of whom will more than likely be in the field of 64.
Now I know what some of you are saying: Here we go again. Why will this year be any different than last year, when we were among the first five out, or even in 2014 when we were one of the first four out.
Let’s compare UCF’s numbers from this year to 2018 and 2014:
2019 UCF Baseball vs. Previous UCF Bubble Teams
|Overall AAC Record||13-15||13-12||19-8|
The bubble is weaker this year than last year, and I think UCF can sneak into the NCAA Tournament. There are two major concerns, however.
First, with Cincinnati winning the American Baseball Championship on Sunday, that takes away a spot from The American, as there’s no way I see the committee giving the American five bids.
The two questions are:
- Does the American get four teams into the field of 64?
- And if so, who is the fourth team?
Odds are UConn, who lost to Cincinnati Sunday, could take the spot of either UCF or Houston in the field. If the committee goes with a fourth team from the American, they should go with UCF over Houston for a few reasons.
One is head-to-head, as UCF won two of three last week against Houston and had a better conference tournament showing going 2-2 while the Cougars went 0-2. If you include the conference tournament, UCF is 13-15 in The American while Houston is 12-14. UCF also has more RPI top-25 and top-50 wins than Houston. But Houston has a better RPI and is more geographically-friendly, as they can bus to Texas A&M or LSU or take quick flights to Oklahoma State or Texas Tech.
Which brings up my other concern for UCF: Where would they go?
As of now it looks like there will be no teams hosting a regional in the state of Florida. So UCF does not have a location where they can bus to by the committee’s standards. One has to worry if the committee perhaps picks a team like Houston, as I mention above, or another bubble team over UCF that can bus to a regional and not have to spend money on a flight like they would have to do for UCF.
Athens could be a spot for UCF, as it is 454 miles away from campus, but Florida State is a guaranteed bus trip to Athens (280 miles) and Georgia Southern, who will be in the field, is another possibility for Athens. Georgia Tech is another possible destination, as UCF is 441 miles away, but Florida is closer (335 miles) to Atlanta, plus Georgia Southern is also a possibility there as well.
The good news though is the NCAA Baseball Selection Committee is more willing to travel teams, unlike other sports like Softball, Soccer, Volleyball, etc. UCF has in fact been pass over twice for the tournament in 2014 and 2018, despite the state having multiple teams hosting in-state those years.
So there is still a chance for UCF to be selected on Monday. But Sunday made it a very thin line for the Knights as a result of Cincinnati winning the American, Southern Miss winning Conference USA and Ohio State winning the Big Ten Tournament, stealing three bids from the bubble. It will be a close call either way. We have been here before, and been disappointed on Selection Monday.
So we now wait for noon Monday and hope this year will be different.