With two weekends and six games left in the regular season for Mississippi State, those NCAA regional projections you see every week are worth paying closer attention to. SEBaseball.com has been projecting the field every week, and MSU has been in the mix most of the season.
This week’s projection, released yesterday, has the Bulldogs (30-18, 11-13 SEC) as a No. 3 seed in the Houston regional. The other teams in that regional are No. 1 Rice, No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Manhattan.
Several of the earlier projections had MSU going to Hattiesburg, which would be fun (and easy for me to get to). Best I can recall, most of the time MSU has been a No. 3 seed in these scenarios.
The more I look at State’s résumé, the more I believe that failure to make the SEC Tournament field won’t necessarily mean missing the NCAAs. The consensus seems to be that nine, possibly 10 SEC teams will earn bids. The Bulldogs, who beat lowly Mississippi Valley State last night, have an RPI of 26 (according to BoydsWorld.com), which is seventh among SEC teams.
MSU owns four wins over current top-10 RPI teams and eight against top-25 teams. The next two opponents have good RPIs: Ole Miss is 36th, LSU is 27th. The Western Division title is well within reach for State, and obviously that would get it in the SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs could just as easily wind up missing the trip to Hoover for a fourth consecutive season. I suspect that won’t happen, but either way, an NCAA bid seems highly likely.