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UConn baseball postseason preview

What’s at stake for the Huskies in the six days between Tuesday and Selection Monday?

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

No. 10 UConn baseball is in prime position to make the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time (2020 was canceled) and sixth out of the last seven. With a top 25 RPI, top 50 non-conference strength of schedule, and a 22-9 record away from home, the Huskies are likely to play June baseball regardless of what happens in the Big East Tournament.

The Huskies still have plenty at stake over the next six days, as 28 automatic bids are awarded, and the teams that remain jockey for at-large positions and favorable Regional locations.

Can UConn host a Regional?

Losing to Butler dropped the Huskies from No. 16 in the RPI to No. 25 and while they’ve fluctuated in the days since, they will head into the conference tournament in that same spot.

Even a 3-0 run that includes two wins over Xavier, which is solidly Quad 2, is unlikely to get UConn over the hump to be chosen as a Regional host.

Part of that is due to the misfortune of teams that the Huskies have already played. Xavier dropped two of three at home to Georgetown to close the regular season, which was enough to push the Musketeers well out of top-50 range, while Rutgers free-fell to No. 61 in the RPI following a series loss to sub-200 Minnesota. This has left UConn with a 1-2 Quad 1 record and only one team (Kent State) in the top 100 has played fewer RPI top 50 games, which is a big mark against it, despite a strong 13-5 record against Quad 2.

The Huskies have a strong nonconference strength of schedule (No. 46) and 22-9 road and neutral record, which is the second-best winning percentage among top-25 RPI teams, behind only Wake Forest, which could have helped the committee overlook a lack of high-end wins, but the RPI is unlikely to get to within range where that would matter.

Can UConn miss the tournament?

If the Huskies go 0-2 at the Big East Tournament, Selection Monday would likely be pretty tense, but it seems unlikely that UConn’s season ends in Mason, Ohio. According to the RPI Needs report at Boyd’s World, which does only include the tournament opener against Georgetown, Jim Penders’ squad cannot fall below No. 32 in the RPI.

The Creighton loss pushed UConn down two spots, so it’s fair to assume two defeats to Georgetown and either Seton Hall or Xavier would put it around No. 31 or No. 32.

That RPI is unlikely to disqualify the Huskies, as they will have a conference regular season title, 40 wins, and a high non-conference strength of schedule, with a 22-11 road and neutral record.

What will impact UConn’s place in the field?

UConn fans should be paying attention to Boston College and Northeastern. The Eagles are right on the bubble to host and would give UConn a bus ride for its Regional, rather than hopping on a plane for yet another time. Meanwhile, the Huntington Huskies are its primary competition for that spot.

The 6-seed Eagles are in Pool C of the ACC Tournament, along with 3-seed Clemson and 10-seed Virginia Tech. They’ll kick off the event against the Hokies on Tuesday and face the Tigers on Friday. If Boston College goes 2-0 and reaches the semifinals, it will be a surefire host, while it may fall out with an 0-2 performance. The Eagles will likely remain on the bubble if they go 1-1.

As for Northeastern, which has a No. 31 RPI and a 7-0 Quad 1 record, it is the 3-seed in the six-team, double-elimination Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. These Huskies will face better competition this week than UConn will and can possibly pass it in the pecking order. Northeastern begins on Wednesday against William & Mary and would move on to play 2-seed Elon with a win.