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UConn Baseball: AAC Baseball Conference Outlook

With four teams tied for first place and three conference series remaining, the race for the regular season title is reaching a boiling point.

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AAC baseball is truly #rising. Baseball is the only sport in which UConn's conference substantially improved after realignment. The boost should be seen in recruiting down the line, although head coach Jim Penders has always done a phenomenal job of recruiting in-state. Like in any sport, being in a good conference is good for RPI as well. Seven of the conference's eight teams have a top 60 RPI.

The stellar competition has also led to a logjam in the battle for conference supremacy. Heading into today, there are four teams tied for first (Houston, USF, Memphis, and ECU), Tulane sits just a game back of first, and UConn is two games back.

This is where each of the top teams in the conference stand going into the last three weeks of the season:

Houston 30-15 (9-6) RPI - 23

Conference series remaining:

At Tulane, May 1-3 (Lost Game 1 yesterday)

East Carolina, May 8-10

UConn, May 14-16

How they got here:

After losing their first two conference series to then sixth-ranked UCF (seems like a long time ago doesn't it?) and Memphis, the Cougars have taken their last three weekend series from Tulane (two of three), Cincinnati (sweep) and at USF (two of three). Houston is hot right now and they, along with USF, control their destiny for an at-large bid.

They have their work cut out for them from a conference standpoint with three difficult series remaining, but they have a solid pitching staff, and power in the middle of their lineup with Chris Iriart (13 HR). This will be a scary team come tournament time.

USF 28-16-1 (9-6 AAC) RPI - 26

Conference series remaining:

At UCF, May 1-3 (Lost Game 1)

At Tulane, May 8-10

UCF, May 14-16

How they got here:

The Bulls had been alone at the top of the AAC until this past weekend when they lost two of three to Houston at home. They now find themselves having to win two series on the road before another tough series against their in-state rivals if they want to remain at the top of the conference. These series, as well as their upcoming midweek game at Florida, are made all the more important as they are in prime position for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament right now.

Memphis 31-13 (9-6) RPI - 41

Conference series remaining:

Cincinnati, May 1-3 (Lost Game 1)

At UCF, May 8-10

Tulane, May 14-16

How they got here:

The Tigers have won four of five conference series, including taking the last two from UConn last weekend, and find themselves tied for first going into a home series against last-place Cincinnati. Interestingly, their only conference series loss was at Cincinnati, so the outcome of this weekend's series is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Memphis is led by senior first basemen Tucker Tubbs who is tied for second in the nation with 13 home runs.

East Carolina 29-17 (9-6) RPI - 43

Conference series remaining:

UConn, May 1-3 (Lost Game 1)

At Houston, May 8-10

At Cincinnati, May 14-16

How they got here:

The Pirates vaulted into a tie for the top spot in the conference last weekend with a three game sweep of UCF in Greenville. ECU snuck by, winning all three games by one run, including an extra inning victory in Game One. They have a pivotal series with the Huskies this weekend, and have the luxury of playing last-place Cincinnati on the final weekend of the regular season. If they can keep pace with the rest of the pack until then, they will be the favorites.

Tulane 28-16 (8-7) RPI - 39

Conference series remaining:

Houston, May 1-3 (Won Game 1)

USF, May 8-10

At Memphis, May 14-16

How they got here:

After losing their first three conference series, Tulane has battled back with series wins against the bottom two teams in conference. The Green Wave took two of three against UCF before sweeping Cincinnati to climb to one game back of being tied for the conference lead. Now, things get much tougher for them as their remaining series are all against teams that are tied for the conference lead.

UConn 28-18 (7-8) RPI - 45

Conference series remaining:

At East Carolina, May 1-3 (Won Game 1)

Cincinnati, May 9 (doubleheader) and 10th

At Houston, May 14-16

How they got here:

The good news for the Huskies is that they are going back out on the road this weekend where they have a conference leading 22 wins (including neutral site games). The Huskies have not done themselves any favors at home, with a 6-7 record including three series losses which could have gone the other way. That, coupled with a devastating one run loss to Holy Cross, hurts the team's RPI.

Realistically, UConn needs to go at least 7-3 the rest of the way (including a sweep of Cincinnati, and a midweek win at Rhode Island) to get back into the conversation for an at-large bid heading into the tournament. Game time tonight is 6:30 and Chris Jones will have the call from Greenville, NC on 91.7 FM and WHUS.org.

UCF 26-19 (5-10) RPI - 57

Conference series remaining:

USF, May 1-3 (Lost Game 1)

Memphis, May 8-10

At USF, May 14-16

How they got here:

The Knights started out a red hot 11-1 including wins over SEC programs Akansas, Ole Miss, and Florida. They continued their success against lesser teams before conference play began, rising as high as sixth in the polls. But since then, it has been a mess. UCF has yet to win an AAC series, including losing two of three at Cincinnati. They are coming off a sweep at the hands of East Carolina and their focus has turned to getting ready for the conference tournament.