Compilation: 5/16 baseball postseason projections
Carolina enters the final weekend of ACC regular season play on a 10-game winning streak. During that stretch, the Tar Heels are outscoring opponents 62-15. They'll wrap up the home slate this weekend with a three-game set against Virginia Tech on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Hokies will arrive in Chapel Hill with plenty to play for, as they're trying to lock up an ACC Tournament bid (only the top eight teams participate) and trying to improve on an RPI of 31 that has them on the cusp of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, are ranked sixth in this week's official NCAA RPI figures. Here's a look at this week's NCAA Tournament projections. As a reminder, earning one of the eight national seeds is hugely beneficial on the quest for Omaha. Securing a national seed means playing at home all the way through the super-regionals. Six of the eight seeds advanced to the College World Series in 2011, and over the last dozen tournaments, 60 percent of the national seeds advanced to Omaha.
This week's projections (with current NCAA RPI numbers in parentheses) include:
Perfect Game: Carolina is the #4 national seed, with a regional that includes ECU (25), Appalachian State (27) and Cornell (133). The winner of the Chapel Hill regional is paired with the winner of the LSU (7) regional in the super-regional.
SEBaseball.com: Carolina is the #6 national seed, and the Chapel Hill regional includes App. State, Georgia (35) and Monmouth (169). The Chapel Hill winner is paired with the winner of the LSU regional. Monmouth, by the way, is an interesting case and a team that a top squad probably doesn't want to see in their regional. The Hawks are led by pitcher Pat Light, a righty included on Baseball America's top 60 list of 2012 major league draft prospects. Monmouth doesn't have the raw talent to match up with a top seed, but they have an ace capable of matching up with anyone on a one-game basis.
ESPN.com: Carolina is the #7 national seed, and the Chapel Hill regional is an all in-state affair: App. State, ECU and UNC-Wilmington (41). The Chapel Hill winner is paired with the winner of the Kentucky (10) regional.
Baseball America doesn't do a formal bracket projection, but their Stock Report is a good gauge of which teams are in position to earn national seeds and regional hosting positions. The Tar Heels are listed as "On the Bubble (In)" for a national seed in this week's edition.
So, what's the road to a national seed for the Coastal Division champion Diamond Heels? It starts with winning the series this weekend against Virginia Tech. That will keep the Tar Heels firmly in the national seed discussion and mean they don't have to do something spectacular at next week's ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Other series with national seed implications or relevance to the Tar Heels this weekend include:
LSU at South Carolina (8): Does the loser play their way out of a national seed? It's also possible that the loser of this series could be the one paired with Carolina in a super-regional.
NC State (12) at Florida State (2): A series win at Tallahassee would be a major boost for the Wolfpack's national seed hopes. With Carolina and State likely to be in the same pool in Greensboro, a couple of State wins at FSU could set up a showdown with major implications in the tournament.
Kentucky (10) at Mississippi State (37): The Wildcats are back in the national seed discussion, but a series loss at Starkville would likely drop them out of the picture--and perhaps put them back into the pool of teams that could travel to Chapel Hill in a potential super-regional.
Purdue (9) at Iowa (212): The Big Ten is not very good, but Purdue has scheduled themselves to a quality RPI with an impressive nonconference slate. The NCAA traditionally likes to reward clubs from non-traditional areas (in other words, the Midwest and Northeast) with hosting spots or national seeds if at all possible. Purdue needs to win the series to stay alive for a national seed, which could squeeze out a fourth SEC team from the national seed picture.