We are on the verge of the announcement of the 2017 NCAA baseball tournament field. 64 of the best teams in the nation will duke it out in regionals, super regionals, and finally the College World Series with the top team being crowned national champions.
Hey selection committee, we see you. In a Sunday night announcement, three Forgottens were named as regional hosts. #8 Long Beach State, #14 Southern Miss, and #16 Houston will all be hosting regionals. In total, Baseball America has six Forgottens in the top 25 with #17 Cal State Fullerton, #22 UCF and #24 Florida Gulf Coast making the cut.
Before your program of choice can win a national title, they have to first make the tournament. There are two ways to get invited to the big dance of college baseball: conference winner and at-large. Certain conferences have decided to eliminate the conference tournament as a way to choose a representative. The Pac-12 and Big West send the conference winner as a representative, while the Ivy league has a championship series to determine the representative. Every other conference in the nation has a tournament that will determine which program is the conference’s representative.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the in, almost in, and bubble teams among the Forgotten 5.
Automatic Bids (31 total):
**This list includes the automatic bids from the other conferences we do not cover.**
- UMBC (23-23), America East Champs: Using some great pitching and timely hitting, the Retrievers slipped by #5 Maine in the finals for the Atlantic East title. UMBC is likely to be one of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament and will get a very tough draw. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Retrievers since 2001.
- Houston (40-19), AAC Champs: Despite an up and down season that saw start pitcher Seth Romero kicked off the squad, the Cougars are officially part of the 2017 NCAA tournament after ending the stunning run of preseason favorite East Carolina with a 6-0 win on Sunday. The Cougars went undefeated in the tournament defeating UConn twice, Memphis, and finally East Carolina for the crown. This is the first trip to the tournament for Houston since 2015.
- Florida State (38-20), ACC Champs: They have made every tournament dating back to 1978.
- #24 Florida Gulf Coast (38-17), A-Sun Champs: After a rough season in conference play, the Eagles took out #1 seed Jacksonville twice in the finals for the title. This is a team that beat FAU, Florida (2x), Ohio State (2x), Florida State, USF, Jackson State, and Miami (2x). This is a dangerous team that could do some damage in the right regional. This is the first trip to the tournament for FGCU.
- Davidson (32-24), A-10 Champs: The A-10 had to send someone to the tournament and it might as well be Davidson. The Wildcats are heading to the tournament for the very first time and will likely be a #4 seed in a tough regional.
- Oklahoma State (29-25), Big 12 Champs: Historically a great team, the Cowboys stole an at-large bid.
- Xavier (31-25), Big East Champs: This is their third trip to the NCAA tournament since 2014.
- Radford (27-30), Big South Champs: A team that no one saw heading to the NCAA tournament, the Highlanders dominated the Big South tournament with four wins in four days. They are heading to the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history with the previous trip in 2015.
- Iowa (35-19), Big 10 Champs: Third trip to the NCAA tournament since 1990.
- #7 Long Beach State (35-16-1), Big West Champs: The Dirtbags are the Big West Conference champions and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. They didn’t need the help as they are #7 nationally in the Baseball America rankings and will host a regional. This is the third trip to the dance for LBSU in the last four years.
- Delaware (34-21), CAA Champs: Heading into the CAA tournament, Delaware was a #4 seed. The Blue Hens rolled through the tournament in defeating Charleston, #1 Northeastern, and #2 UNC Wilmington twice in route to the crown. This is the first trip for Delaware to the NCAA tournament since 2001.
- Rice (31-29), Conference USA Champs: After a season that was well below their standards, the Owls found lightning in a bottle and swept the Conference USA tournament to seal an automatic bid. This is their 23rd straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
- Illinois-Chicago (39-15), Horizon League Champs: The #1 seed from the Horizon League, the Flames took care of business in beating #5 Oakland and #2 Wright State twice to earn the automatic bid. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Flames since 2008.
- Yale (30-16), Ivy League Champs: The Bulldogs are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993. They had to beat Penn in a best of three series to earn the bid and rolled to 5-0 and 11-7 wins. Yale can hit the ball, but also give up lots of runs. Unless they can find some consistency on the mound, it will be a short trip. This is the first trip to the tournament for the Bulldogs since 1993.
- Marist (32-21), MAAC Champs: Taking out #1 see Fairfield early in the tournament and staring in the winner’s bracket, Marist rolled to the MAAC title over #4 seed Iona. The Red Foxes are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
- Ohio (31-26), MAC Champs: The Bobcats won the MAC tournament for the second time in three years after taking out the regular season champs Kent State and #3 seed Eastern Michigan in the final. This is the second trip to the NCAA tournament for the Bobcats in the last three years.
- Bethune-Cookman (33-23), MEAC Champs: The MEAC champs are no stranger to the tournament with 15 overall appearances. Once they get there, it has been tough sledding with a record of 2-30 in 15 overall appearances. This is the second straight trip to the NCAA tournament for the Wildcats.
- Dallas Baptist (40-19), MVC Champs: In the shadow of Missouri State all season long, the Patriots found a way to roll through the winner’s bracket of the MVC tournament and pull out an automatic bid. This is the seventh trip to the NCAA tournament for the Patriots in the last ten seasons.
- San Diego State (41-19), MWC Champs: A day after getting smoked by Fresno State 12-1, the Aztecs came up with a late two-run single to pull out a 5-3 win for the MWC title. They were likely an at-large pick, but rather than give the committee a chance to leave them out, they got the automatic bid. This is the fourth trip to the NCAA tournament for the Aztecs in the last five seasons.
- Central Connecticut (36-20), Northeast Champs: Rolling through the tournament unscathed as the #2 seed, the Blue Devils secured the automatic bid from the Northeast Conference. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Blue Devils since 2010.
- Tennessee Tech (40-19), OVC Champs: The OVC regular season champs were one of the few top seeds to make it through their conference tournament unscathed. The Golden Eagles outscored their opponents 38-19 in the three wins it took to secure the bid. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for Tennessee Tech since 2009.
- Oregon State (48-4), Pac-12 Champs: The #1 ranked team in the nation.
- Holy Cross (23-25), Patriot League Champs: A true Cinderella team in this year’s tournament, the Crusaders are one of the few F5 teams that can claim a national title (1952). They were able to outlast Army and watch #1 seed Navy get bounced by Bucknell before taking the Patriot League automatic bid. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Crusaders since 1978.
- LSU (43-17), SEC Champs: They are good at baseball and stuff.
- UNC Greensboro (35-22), SoCon Champs: Missing out on matchups versus the #1 and #2 teams, the Spartans too care of business in defeating Samford, ETSU, Furman, and Furman once again to earn a trip to the dance. This is their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1997.
- Sam Houston State (40-20), Southland Champs: Needing to win the tournament to secure a bid in the dance, the faced surprise finalist Central Arkansas for the title. The Bearkats easily pulled out the win and are headed to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
- Texas Southern (20-32), SWAC Champs: A team that got hot at the right time, the Tigers took the SWAC tournament, bouncing heavy favorite Jackson State in back to back tournament games before taking out Alabama State in 13 innings for the title. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Tigers since 2015.
- Oral Roberts (42-14), Summit League Champs: The dominant team of the Summit League in 2017, the Golden Eagles easily handled the conference tournament and are headed back to the dance. Oral Roberts is headed to the NCAA tournament for the 17th time in the last 19 seasons.
- South Alabama (39-19), Sun Belt Champs: In what turned into a single elimination tournament, the Jaguars avoided Coastal Carolina and Louisiana in route to the tournament title. This is their 17th overall Sun Belt title and second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
- BYU (37-19), WCC Champs: After coming out of the loser’s bracket in the WCC tournament, the Cougars pummeled Gonzaga 10-3 and 16-3 in the finals. BYU likely needed to win the WCC tournament to make the dance. This is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for BYU since 2002.
- Sacramento State (32-27), WAC Champs: Finding their bats in the postseason, the Hornets averaged nine runs per game in route to a perfect 4-0 record and WAC title. This is the first time Sacramento State has made the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
Still looking good:
- #22 Central Florida (40-20): The Knights were an afterthought heading into the season, but won the AAC regular season title and will be in the NCAA tournament no matter what. The loss to ECU in the first round hurts, but they bounced back and beat Tulane to face the loser of ECU and USF this afternoon. BA currently has UCF hosting a regional with #2 Auburn, #3 Florida State, and #4 Binghamton.
- #14 Southern Miss (45-13): The Golden Eagles dominated a very good CUSA this season and held a double-digit winning streak heading into the tournament. They were able to earn a spot in the CUSA title game before falling to Rice in a hard-fought title game. The Golden Eagles will be hosting a regional in the NCAA tournament.
- Missouri State (40-17): After losing in the first round of the MVC tournament, the Bears bounced back with a win over Southern Illinois. They were unable to pull out the tournament, but look like a lock for the dance. Wait and see, but the news should be good.
- South Florida (41-17): The Bulls have a gaudy record and but struggled in the AAC tournament. They check off all the boxes and should be no lower than a #3 seed, but a #2 seed might no longer be an option.
- #17 Cal State Fullerton (34-21): The biggest benefit from no conference tournament is the inability to lose an ugly game at an inopportune time. The Titans are talented and could make a run, but they cannot form any sort of consistency for longer than 2-3 games. They held their own despite losing two of three versus LBSU and should not have to wait long to hear their name called.
Sweating it out:
- Coastal Carolina (37-19-1): Rain has significantly hurt the postseason chances of the defending champs. They lost early and the tournament was moved to single elimination, taking them out in a tough spot. Stress abounds in for the Chanticleers.
- Louisiana (35-21-1): The Ragin’ Cajuns may be on the outside looking in. They needed a couple of wins the Sun Belt tournament to secure a bid, but were one and out after losing in 11 innings to Georgia Southern. Wait and see.
- Old Dominion (37-21): Conference USA is getting at least two teams in the tournament and the Monarchs should be one of them. It all comes down to the title game. Southern Miss wins and the Monarchs should be in, Rice wins and they are likely headed home.
- McNeese State (37-20): The worst thing the Cowboys could have done is fall short of the title game. This is a team that challenged themselves, but struggled in those games. They are likely team 66-70 on the list of 65 teams.
Not looking good:
- Gonzaga (33-20): The Bulldogs made the finals, but were absolutely destroyed by BYU. The last thing you want the selection committee to see is giving up 16 runs in two straight games to lose the tournament final.
- Mercer (39-17): I just don’t see it happening.
- Southeastern Louisiana (36-20): The door was open for the Lions, but they fell flat on their faces and are likely staying home.
- UConn (33-25): Nope, nope, nope.
- Kent State (37-18): It all comes down to a weak conference and not taking care of business. The Golden Flashes are likely staying home.
- Others: Loyola Marymount, San Diego, Navy, FAU, Charlotte, Louisiana Tech.