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The Conference Races -- Home Stretch
Publication Date: May 8, 2007
The Annual "Pay Attention" Column
Ah, the thrill of the pennant race. Knowing that every game matters; keeping one eye on the ball and one eye on the scoreboard (or, most places, one ear on the PA system, hoping for a crumb of knowledge about how those evil others who are trying to steal your flag are doing); knowing that someone will win and someone will go home disappointed. I love this time of year. What? You mean they play some silly tournament after the season, and then they add another tournament after that? Heresy!
Nonetheless, for those of us who still care about being the best of those who are enough like you that you've chosen to associate yourself with them, here's the annual conference stretch run analysis.
W L GB Remaining Florida State 20 4 - Clemson, @Georgia Tech Virginia 16 7 3.5 North Carolina State, @Boston College North Carolina 16 8 4 Georgia Tech, @Maryland Clemson 15 9 5 @Florida State, @North Carolina State Georgia Tech 14 9 5.5 @North Carolina, Florida State
Well, it ain't over, but the fat lady's definitely been heard just offstage. Georgia Tech, who has been strangely bipolar this year, could play an interesting role here. If UNC takes care of them this weekend and Clemson can hold FSU close, I could see FSU struggling in Atlanta to try to close things out. I could also see FSU blitzing through the rest of the year undefinited -- remember, folks, playing a weak schedule doesn't mean you're actually bad, it just means we don't know how good or bad you are.
W L GB Remaining Binghamton 15 4 - @Maine Stony Brook 10 5 3 Vermont, @Maryland-Baltimore County Vermont 8 7 5 @Stony Brook, Albany Maine 8 8 5.5 @Hartford, Binghamton
Those are four-game series, Stony Brook could actually go into the last weekend as close as one game back. More likely is that they and Vermont knock each other out this weekend while Binghamton is out of conference, but anything's possible.
W L GB Remaining North Carolina-Charlotte 18 3 - St. Bonaventure, @Richmond Richmond 16 5 2 @St. Joseph's, North Carolina-Charlotte Rhode Island 13 8 5 @Fordham, @St. Joseph's Fordham 13 8 5 Rhode Island, LaSalle Xavier 12 9 6 LaSalle, Massachusetts
Hey, everybody else! This is what good conference scheduling looks like. Charlotte and Richmond were fairly obvious choices for the two best teams in the conference going into the season, so lining them up at the end just makes sense.
W L GB Remaining Stetson 18 3 - @Lipscomb, Belmont Mercer 13 8 5 @Gardner-Webb, East Tennessee State Belmont 13 8 5 Kennesaw State, @Stetson
This one's been over since about mid-March, it seems like. Mathematical elimination fever -- catch it!
W L GB Remaining Texas 18 6 - @Texas A&M Missouri 14 7 2.5 Oklahoma, @Oklahoma State Oklahoma State 13 8 3.5 @Texas Tech, Missouri
Texas' exam scheduling has made this one closer to over than it would be otherwise. To be honest, the other two are looking more in their rear view mirrors, trying to keep Texas A&M in fourth place with hopes of leapfrogging the high-RPI Aggies for hosting and seeding rights.
W L GB Remaining St. John's 16 5 - Cincinnati, @South Florida Rutgers 16 5 - @Pittsburgh, @Villanova Louisville 14 7 2 Notre Dame, @Cincinnati Pittsburgh 13 7 2.5 Rutgers, Seton Hall Notre Dame 10 10 5.5 @Louisville, Connecticut South Florida 10 11 6 @Seton Hall, St. John's
This has turned interesting. Despite weak schedules, the top two here are starting to creep into at large range in the RPI's. Complicating things is that none of the top three play any more before the conference tournament. It's a fun, uncertain mess, although I wish there was a bit of head-to-head left.
W L GB Remaining Winthrop 14 1 - @Liberty, Coastal Carolina Coastal Carolina 13 2 1 @North Carolina-Asheville, @Winthrop Liberty 9 6 5 Winthrop, @Virginia Military
Winthrop has been so-so outside the conference and really, really good inside. That could be luck and could be a shallow but strong pitching staff, so that last weekend will be an exciting chance to find out which.
W L GB Remaining Michigan 17 3 - Penn State, @Iowa Minnesota 14 5 2.5 Ohio State, @Indiana Iowa 14 8 4 @Purdue, Michigan Penn State 14 8 4 @Michigan, Ohio State Ohio State 12 10 6 @Minnesota, @Penn State Illinois 10 12 8 Indiana, Michigan State
Again, these are four-game series, so it's still fairly open. One of the big shames of this season is that Michigan and Minnesota got completely snowed out.
W L GB Remaining Long Beach State 10 2 - @UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, @Cal State Fullerton UC Riverside 9 3 1 @Cal State Northridge, @Long Beach State, UC Irvine UC Santa Barbara 9 6 2.5 Long Beach State, Cal Poly UC Irvine 7 5 3 @Pacific, Cal State Northridge, @UC Riverside Cal State Fullerton 8 7 3.5 @Cal Poly, Long Beach State Cal Poly 8 7 3.5 Cal State Fullerton, @UC Santa Barbara Cal State Northridge 2 10 8 UC Riverside, @UC Irvine, Pacific
As usual for this column, the two conferences that don't have conference tournaments have a little too much baseball left to play for things to be clear. Just watch this weekend and then see where they stand.
W L GB Remaining Rice 16 2 - Tulane, Memphis Memphis 11 7 5 Houston, @Rice East Carolina 10 7 5.5 Central Florida, @Alabama-Birmingham Houston 10 8 6 @Memphis, Southern Mississippi
It's over, everybody go home.
W L GB Remaining Old Dominion 15 8 - Georgia State, @William and Mary Virginia Commonwealth 15 8 - Delaware, @Northeastern Delaware 14 9 1 @Virginia Commonwealth, James Madison North Carolina-Wilmington 15 11 1.5 George Mason George Mason 14 11 2 @North Carolina-Wilmington Georgia State 12 12 3.5 @Old Dominion, @Towson Northeastern 10 13 5 @Hofstra, Virginia Commonwealth James Madison 9 13 5.5 Towson, @Delaware
Now, that's a race. I think the Delaware-VCU matchup means that two of these have actually been eliminated, but there's still an awful lot of wiggle room above them. ODU is helped by a relatively easy schedule, so they'll have to be considered a slight favorite, but this should be fun to watch.
W L GB Remaining Illinois-Chicago 17 4 - Butler, @Wright State Wright State 16 8 2.5 @Cleveland State, Illinois-Chicago Wisconsin-Milwaukee 12 10 5.5 @Youngstown State, @Butler, Youngstown State
It's a long shot, mostly because UIC is the best team here, but it's still worth watching to see if WSU can stick around.
W L GB Remaining Brown 14 6 -
Brown is the first official team to make it into this year's NCAA tournament, having won the playoff last weekend.
W L GB Remaining Manhattan 19 1 - LeMoyne, @St. Peter's LeMoyne 16 3 2.5 @Manhattan, Iona
They'll decide this one this weekend, with a fairly clearcut favorite going in.
W L GB Remaining Eastern Michigan 16 3 - Toledo, @Western Michigan Central Michigan 17 4 - Western Michigan, @Ball State Miami, Ohio 13 6 3 @Ohio, Akron Kent State 14 7 3 @Akron, Buffalo Northern Illinois 13 8 4 @Ball State, @Toledo Toledo 11 10 6 @Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois
Interesting two-team race, complicated by a couple of cancelled games for EMU. Central has been a bit stronger overall, so that's the way I'm leaning, but both of them should be able to do well down the stretch against easier competition, so it's really a tossup.
W L GB Remaining Bethune-Cookman 16 1 -
I think they clinched in early April or something.
W L GB Remaining Wichita State 17 4 - Illinois State Creighton 14 4 1.5 @Illinois State, Missouri State
Wichita's very much been the class of the conference, but they could be tied at the end of the weekend if things break the right way, and that could affect postseason matters quite a bit, so this situation bears watching.
W L GB Remaining Oral Roberts 11 1 - Centenary, @Western Illinois Western Illinois 11 5 2 Oral Roberts Centenary 6 6 5 @Oral Roberts, Oakland Valparaiso 5 7 6 @Oakland, Southern Utah
Hey, ORU lost a game this year!
W L GB Remaining Texas Christian 18 2 - New Mexico
Five up with one series left; time to get ready for the postseason.
W L GB Remaining Mount St. Mary's 16 4 - Quinnipiac, Fairleigh Dickinson Quinnipiac 14 6 2 @Mount St. Mary's, Sacred Heart Sacred Heart 12 7 3.5 @Monmouth, @Quinnipiac Monmouth 11 8 4.5 Sacred Heart, Wagner Central Connecticut State 11 9 5 @Wagner, @Long Island Wagner 8 12 8 Central Connecticut State, @Monmouth
The winner of this weekend's four-game Mount-Quinnipiac series will be in the driver's seat, obviously. Sacred Heart is still hanging around the fringes of contention, though; a 3-1 Quinnipiac win coupled with a sweep of Monmouth would leave them in contention going into Quinnipiac.
W L GB Remaining Austin Peay State 15 6 - @Murray State, Eastern Kentucky Jacksonville State 14 7 1 Tennessee-Martin, @Murray State Southeast Missouri State 13 7 1.5 Morehead State, @Tennessee Tech Murray State 10 9 4 Austin Peay State, Jacksonville State Eastern Kentucky 9 9 4.5 @Eastern Illinois, @Austin Peay State Tennessee Tech 10 11 5 @Samford, Southeast Missouri State
A good close three-team race with nobody interesting playing each other.
W L GB Remaining UCLA 12 3 - @Arizona State, @Washington State, Oregon State Arizona State 11 4 1 UCLA, @Oregon State, Arizona Arizona 10 5 2 Southern California, Washington, @Arizona State Washington 8 7 4 @Stanford, @Arizona, California Oregon State 7 8 5 Washington State, Arizona State, @UCLA California 8 10 5.5 Southern California, @Washington Southern California 6 9 6 @Arizona, @California, Stanford Washington State 6 12 7.5 @Oregon State, UCLA
You remember how Wile E. Coyote would run off the cliff and hang up there as long as he didn't look down? That's what UCLA is doing, and if they just keep running, they just might make it to the other side before someone hands them an anvil. If not, ASU-Arizona the last weekend of the season could be a ton of fun.
It needs to be noted, and now's as good a time as any. They're going to play the NCAA tournament without Stanford this year. Their 1994-2006 run was astounding and needs to be documented and remembered as such, since it never made it onto the champions list where folks start looking for great teams.
W L GB Remaining Lafayette 17 3 -
The Patriot is at least smart enough to stack the conference tournament in favor of the regular season champ, so this has been a good year for Lafayette.
W L GB Remaining Vanderbilt 17 7 - @Auburn, Louisiana State Arkansas 16 8 1 @Alabama, Mississippi Mississippi State 13 9 3 @Georgia, Alabama Mississippi 13 11 4 Kentucky, @Arkansas South Carolina 13 11 4 @Tennessee, Georgia Florida 12 12 5 @Louisiana State, Tennessee Louisiana State 11 12 5.5 Florida, @Vanderbilt Alabama 11 13 6 Arkansas, @Mississippi State Tennessee 10 12 6 South Carolina, @Florida
One interesting thing is that there are no matchups on this list that eliminate anyone, so it's actually still theoretically possible for Alabama or Tennessee to tie for the title. In practice, it's going to go down to the wire, as Vandy has to deal with a rejuvenated LSU team, Arkansas has to face Ole Miss, and MSU is sitting too far back but with an easy schedule.
W L GB Remaining Prairie View A&M 17 7 - Jackson State 17 7 -
Prairie View's the best team here, but not by enough that the conference tournament next weekend won't be interesting, relatively speaking. By the way, anyone who actually knows the score of the April 29 MVSU-Alabama A&M game, get in touch.
W L GB Remaining College of Charleston 17 4 - North Carolina-Greensboro, Davidson Western Carolina 15 6 2 @Wofford, Georgia Southern Elon 14 10 4.5 Wofford North Carolina-Greensboro 11 10 6 @College of Charleston, Appalachian State Georgia Southern 11 10 6 @The Citadel, @Western Carolina
More proof that ending the schedule with the top half playing the bottom half just isn't as interesting.
W L GB Remaining Texas-San Antonio 20 4 - @Nicholls State, @Texas State Texas State 17 7 3 McNeese State, Texas-San Antonio Lamar 17 7 3 Northwestern State, McNeese State McNeese State 15 8 4.5 @Texas State, @Lamar Sam Houston State 14 10 6 Southeastern Louisiana, @SFAS
UTSA has been surprisingly strong this year, but they'll have to go to San Marcos to close the deal.
W L GB Remaining Louisiana-Lafayette 18 6 - Arkansas-Little Rock, @New Orleans New Orleans 14 10 4 @Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette Middle Tennessee State 13 11 5 @Florida International, Western Kentucky Troy 13 11 5 New Orleans, @South Alabama Western Kentucky 12 12 6 South Alabama, @Middle Tennessee State
It's over, but who finishes second may end up mattering quite a bit, so stick around.
W L GB Remaining Fresno State 14 4 - Louisiana Tech, @Hawaii Louisiana Tech 13 8 2.5 @Fresno State Nevada 11 7 3 Hawaii, @San Jose State Hawaii 9 9 5 @Nevada, Fresno State
It was probably inevitable after the great season last year, but the WAC has just been really blah this year. We'll know after this weekend if Tech can make one last run.
W L GB Remaining San Diego 16 2 - @Santa Clara Gonzaga 13 5 3 @Pepperdine Pepperdine 10 5 4.5 Gonzaga, @Portland
San Diego has actually clinched a tie; anything but a sweep by either side this weekend between the other two seals it for them.
This means absolutely nothing, ignore it.
This is one generic layman's predictions for who gets in the tournament. I'm not going to bother picking a team from the one-bid conferences, since the conference tournament will just be a crapshoot, but if I only list one team from a conference, they'll get an at large bid if they don't get the automatic bid.
America East Florida State Louisville Arizona State Atlantic 10 Virginia Rutgers Arizona CAA Miami, Florida St. John's Oregon State Horizon Clemson Coastal Carolina UCLA Brown North Carolina State Michigan Vanderbilt MAAC Georgia Tech Minnesota South Carolina MAC Wake Forest Long Beach State Mississippi State MEAC Stetson UC Irvine Mississippi Mid-Continent Texas Cal State Fullerton Arkansas NEC Texas A&M UC Riverside Florida OVC Missouri Rice Louisiana State Patriot Nebraska East Carolina College of Charleston SWAC Oklahoma Southern Mississippi Western Carolina Southland Kansas State Wichita State Louisiana-Lafayette WAC Baylor Creighton San Diego North Carolina Oklahoma State Texas Christian Pepperdine
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you. This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
|5/04||UC Davis||Brad McAtee||Cal State Northridge||9.0||7||4||4||3||8||32||37||124|
|5/04||College of Charleston||Nick Chigges||Elon||8.0||7||2||2||3||11||29||34||138|
|5/04||Kennesaw State||Bubba Blalock||Lipscomb||9.0||4||0||0||1||6||30||32||128|
|5/04||George Mason||J. J. Pannell||Old Dominion||8.1||7||4||2||3||9||32||36||127|
|5/04||UC Riverside||James Simmons||Pacific||9.0||9||4||2||0||11||37||38||122|
|5/04||North Dakota State||Jeff Hille||South Dakota State||8.0||6||3||3||3||7||30||36||134|
|5/04||Arkansas-Little Rock||David Klumpp||Troy||9.0||8||0||0||1||11||34||36||131(*)|
|5/04||Valparaiso||Harvey Yergin||Western Illinois||9.0||11||5||2||2||5||39||44||145(*)|
|5/04||Northern Iowa||Aaron Jenkins||Wichita State||9.0||6||3||2||4||8||34||39||141(*)|
|5/05||West Virginia||Josh Whitlock||Villanova||8.0||8||6||6||5||7||28||36||138|
|5/05||Villanova||Mike Loree||West Virginia||9.0||9||4||3||3||4||33||39||127|
|5/05||Boston College||Kevin Boggan||Clemson||8.0||10||4||4||4||8||32||36||133(*)|
|5/05||Eastern Illinois||Chris Vaculik||Austin Peay State||6.2||10||7||5||4||2||28||34||129|
|5/05||Southeastern Louisiana||Wade Miley||Lamar||8.0||5||0||0||4||5||26||30||126|
|5/05||Arkansas||Jess Todd||Louisiana State||8.2||7||0||0||3||10||30||35||131(*)|
|5/05||Marshall||Andrew Blain||Southern Mississippi||3.2||9||8||8||7||1||18||26||123|
|5/05||Florida A&M||Cirilo Manego||Norfolk State||8.0||6||3||3||6||8||29||37||154|
|5/05||Arkansas-Little Rock||Ashur Tolliver||Troy||9.0||9||1||1||2||11||33||35||131(*)|
|5/05||Western Illinois||Rob Johnson||Valparaiso||7.1||6||1||1||5||9||28||34||132(*)|
|5/05||Western Michigan||Billy Morrison||Northern Illinois||8.2||9||6||5||2||5||37||40||133(*)|
|5/05||Nicholls State||Lance Dupuis||Texas-Arlington||9.0||6||2||2||3||8||32||37||130|
|5/06||UC Davis||Bryan Evans||Cal State Northridge||9.0||7||1||0||4||7||31||36||140|
|5/06||Maryland||Brett Cecil||Florida State||7.1||8||3||1||2||6||25||31||128|
|5/06||Nevada-Las Vegas||Kevin Skogley||San Diego State||9.0||7||1||1||2||15||33||35||139(*)|
|5/06||Southern Utah||Alec Reichle||Centenary||8.0||6||1||1||4||3||27||32||123|
|5/06||St. Peter's||Chris Innis||Canisius||10.0||14||7||7||2||9||40||43||150(*)|
|5/08||Utah Valley State||Marcus Moore||Utah||9.0||9||4||4||5||13||35||43||149|
|5/09||Cleveland State||Brian Long||Bowling Green State||9.0||6||1||1||2||9||32||35||134|
(*) Pitch count is estimated. As always, I welcome actual pitch count corrections.If you're interested in reprinting this or any other Boyd's World material for your publication or Web site, please read the reprint policy and contact me
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