The Hosting Discussion

Mississippi State University | HailState.com

The Bulldogs haven't hosted a Regional since 2003 - what will it take to make Starkville one of those 16 coveted spots in the NCAA Baseball Tournament?

For the hardcore MSU baseball fan, perhaps nothing is more treasured than hosting a Regional. It's happened 11 times before including 7 out of 9 years from 1984-1992. As John Cohen continues to rebuild Mississippi State baseball into a power like he was a part of once before, could this be the year we get back to one of the benchmarks of success by hosting a Regional?

First off, there are 16 hosts and as we currently sit with three weekends until the selection but there are a some teams that are all but locks to host:

Team W-L RPI vs. top 100 Losses vs. 100+ Ranking
North Carolina 42-4 1 28-4 0 1
LSU 43-6 4 26-6 0 3
Virginia 39-8 3 23-7 1 7
Vanderbilt 41-6 2 20-5 2 2
Oregon State 37-8 6 19-8 2 6
N.C. State 37-11 7 20-9 2 5
Cal State Fullerton 39-7 9 22-6 1 4
Florida State 38-9 5 20-9 0 9

Assuming I'm right about those eight teams being locks, that leaves one half of the locations still open. Here are the teams I believe to be under consideration:

Team W-L RPI vs. top 100 Losses vs. 100+ Ranking
Mississippi State 36-13 10 17-13 0 21
Arizona State 30-14 15 17-9 5 13
South Carolina 33-14 11 17-12 2 15
Indiana 35-9 12 11-7 2 14
UCLA 31-13 17 17-10 3 8
Florida 25-23 19 17-20 3 NR
Louisville 37-10 23 15-6 4 12
Arkansas 32-16 39 17-14 2 11
Clemson 30-15 14 17-13 2 19
South Alabama 36-13 16 10-10 3 20
Ole Miss 33-16 20 11-14 2 NR
Virginia Tech 30-19 13 16-15 4 22
Oregon 37-11 8 18-9 2 10
Miami (FL) 30-18 18 18-16 2 NR

That's 14 teams I listed and 8 will be getting hosting duties out of that group. That would mean MSU has a little better than 50% chance but obviously some other teams could jump into the discussion such as Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Kansas State or Rice.

As you can see from this list of teams, once again the ACC and SEC are so far superior to every other conference it's not even funny. At a minimum, at least half of the Regional locations will be from those two leagues. Based on the teams I've said are locks, four of them are from the ACC and two from the SEC. Based on that I'd say Clemson is on the outside looking in but there could be room.

The typical rule of thumb over the past few years has been for the SEC to get four hosting spots, but with the expansion of the league to 14 teams several prognosticators have listed as many as six schools getting to host on occasion. I would be very surprised by that, but maybe it will be five.

With Florida's record I don't even think they should be in the discussion, but they are, so if there are two spots (or possibly three) the candidates are: MSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Florida.

Ole Miss and Florida are definitely on the outside looking in. What happens in Oxford this weekend will go a long way to determining if OM is in or out of the discussion.

Arkansas is battling themselves - or perhaps hoping other SEC teams will slip up to make them look more attractive. Their conference record (15-8) is great, but they've had the lightest possible schedule. Plus the Hogs play Tennessee and Auburn in the last two series. This will enhance their record but not the RPI. What could boost them, however, is a long run in the SEC Tournament in which they beat some high profile teams.

The clear front-runners are MSU and South Carolina. They are close in RPI, vs. top 100 and records - both overall and conference. It's only fitting that these two meet on the last weekend of the regular season. There's a chance it could be for the right to host a Regional, but they may both end up with the honor.

The thing that jumps off the screen is the fact that State doesn't have a bad loss on the season. With a 23-2 non-conference record, the Dawgs' only losses are to Central Arkansas who is 43rd in RPI.

Basically what Mississippi State has to do now is keep the train on the tracks. Of course, we want to win the series in Oxford but whatever happens, don't get swept. In the remaining six SEC games we need to at least go 3-3 and I think we'll be fine. The lone remaining out of conference game is Oral Roberts - they are 102nd in RPI - so we need to win that game.

4-3 from here on out should get it done. 5-2 and it's all but guaranteed. Let's do this. Hail State.

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