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UConn baseball closing in on NCAA tournament spot

The Huskies have rolled Big East play and are looking to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Selection Monday is four weeks from Monday and UConn baseball is closing in on securing its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, which would be a program record. The Huskies have a gaudy 37-8 record and are ranked No. 49 in the RPI, which is the primary metric used by the selection committee to select the 33 at-large teams and seed the field.

While Elliot Ballpark is unlikely to host a regional this June, partially due to the Huskies’ 218th-ranked strength of schedule, according to Warren Nolan, Jim Penders and Co. can breathe easy knowing their name will likely be called whether they win the Big East’s automatic bid or not.

UConn has not played a team ranked in the top 100 of the RPI, as of the start of play on May 2, in almost two months. Pepperdine, which the Huskies played in a three-game set in mid-March, holds the No. 100 spot. This was a precarious 32-game stretch for the Huskies, as too many Quad 3 and Quad 4 defeats would sink their at-large hopes, as demonstrated by 2017.

However, UConn emerged 26-6, never losing a weekend series in the process, while sweeping three of those seven three-game sets and at one point winning 12 consecutive games.

The schedule gets stronger as the calendar flips to May, with two potential Quad 2 series against the other two schools that could compete for the Big East regular-season crown. Creighton, second in the Big East standings, comes to Elliot Ballpark this weekend for three, while Xavier, which sits at third, will arrive the following weekend.

It is imperative that UConn, which has played only five games this year against the top 100, wins both of these series at home. While the Huskies are the heavy favorite to take home the tournament championship in four weeks in Mason, Ohio, these are the types of series, especially at home, that could push the Huskies into the tournament with a strong performance, or keep them out if the result is unfavorable.

The Huskies have done what they needed to do, with a neutral site win over Louisville, a series win on the road at Pepperdine, and zero weekend series losses all season. If UConn keeps it up through this tough two-week stretch, the Huskies will be playing June baseball.

Penders’ club can also clinch a spot in the four-team Big East Tournament as soon as this weekend. The Huskies, along with Creighton, are far and away the class of the league, with three weeks left in the regular season.

Big East Baseball Standings- May 2

Team Record GB RPI
Team Record GB RPI
UConn 11-1 --- 49
Creighton 10-2 1 99
Xavier 6-6 5 84
Georgetown 7-8 5.5 163
Villanova 7-8 5.5 132
Seton Hall 4-8 7 177
St. John's 3-8-1 7.5 221
Butler 2-9-1 8.5 208

Georgetown, which does not play this weekend due to final exams, along with Villanova, played their series a weekend before conference play began for the remaining six schools, but every team will be on equal footing by the end of the weekend.

Five of the eight teams in the Big East are already at eight losses or more, four of which the Huskies have already defeated in a conference series. As a result, if UConn takes at least two of three from Creighton this weekend, no matter what happens elsewhere, the Huskies will have secured their spot in Mason, Ohio.