With three weekends left in the regular season, the Arizona Wildcats are firmly on the regional hosting bubble.
So with a big weekend sweep of Washington in the books, Arizona now finds itself on the right side of that bubble in this week’s NCAA Tournament projections.
Baseball America currently has three Pac-12 teams hosting (Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona), and here’s a look at the Tucson Regional and the one that it’s paired with, the Chapel Hill Regional.
It’s an interesting mix of offensive powers (UA and UNM) with teams defined by pitching (CSF and URI). Rhode Island is a top-20 ERA team nationally right now, while Arizona and New Mexico are both top-10 offenses, so that would be an interesting regional.
Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball was in Tucson this past weekend, and told us UNC is the best team he’s seen this year, so maybe not an ideal pairing for Arizona moving forward.
Speaking of D1Baseball, here’s a look at what they have right now for the Wildcats.
NMSU is a team that UA has already taken down twice this year at Hi Corbett. Oklahoma isn’t elite at anything, but is a pretty well-rounded team. Arizona was crushed by Texas Tech in Lubbock earlier this year, so they would at least have some familiarity with the venue if that Super Regional were indeed a thing that happens.
Then there’s this from our friends at And The Valley Shook, which has a pretty identical look to what we’re looking at with the D1Baseball projection.
Same exact Regional draw and a pairing with Texas Tech for Supers. It should be noted that UCLA and Washington are both in the field in the first two projections, but neither of them are in this full one above.
The biggest advantage for Arizona hosting is not necessarily getting to host that first weekend (that is a big advantage though like we saw in 2012), but it’s the guarantee of not having to travel to Oregon State for Supers. If the Wildcats were a regional two-seed in a place like Long Beach, it’s pretty likely that they would be staring down the Beavers (or potentially Stanford) if they got out of Long Beach.
Either way, if Texas Tech or UNC are on the docket for Supers, those are also tough matchups. But Oregon State has proven to be the best team all year, and their pitching staff is only getting stronger. So avoiding them before Omaha is crucial.
Arizona is on a Super Regional dress rehearsal trip of sorts this weekend. They’ll take on College of Charleston for a three-game set in South Carolina beginning Friday. The Wildcats even left on Wednesday instead of Thursday, which is more like what would happen in the postseason. Winning a non-conference road series this late in the year would only help solidify the hosting case with only a road series at ASU and a home series vs. Cal remaining.