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Arizona baseball among first three out in final NCAA Tournament projections


Rachel Huston

The line the Arizona Wildcats are toeing right now is razor thin.

After the 16 Regional hosts were announced by the NCAA on Sunday night, the major college baseball news outlets released their final projections, and they all have Arizona in a very similar spot.

Both Baseball America and Perfect Game have the Wildcats as the third team out of the field, while D1Baseball has UA as the second team missing the field.

The company Arizona keeps on the bubble is very similar among all three outlets as well. Teams like UCF, Northeastern, Illinois, Dallas Baptist, Troy. Kentucky, and Washington will all be sweating out Monday’s selection show along with the Cats from Tucson.

Personally, I think it’ll come down to the committee putting Arizona or Washington in the field as far as determining the Wildcats’ postseason fate.

The main advantage Arizona has over UW is its RPI. The Wildcats finished with a final RPI or 46th, while the Huskies are 63rd.

But that’s pretty much where UA’s advantages end. Washington swept Arizona head-to-head this year, finished six games ahead of the Cats in the Pac-12 standings, and have a better record against the RPI top 50 (UW went 10-8, UA went 6-8).

Arizona’s non-conference RPI is much better than Washington’s (11th vs. 164th), but based on the Regional host sites, conference results are being weighed heavily by the selection committee. So that 14-16 mark in the Pac-12, which is ranked 5th in conference RPI, will probably not get the job done.

In addition to Washington’s advantages over Arizona, Illinois owns a neutral site head-to-head win over the Wildcats, has a better record vs. RPI Top 50 (7-7), and finished 15-9 in the Big Ten.

The other bubble teams other than Washington and Illinois all have better RPIs than Arizona as well, so it’ll be an interesting case study to see if the Wildcats can get in the Field of 64 or not. RPI was not the lone metric in choosing regional hosts with Texas (22), NC State (20), and Coastal Carolina (17) jumping top-16 teams Auburn, Texas A&M, and UConn, so maybe Arizona can jump some teams in front of it.

But that also plays into why I think Washington will get in ahead of Arizona.

We’ll find out soon enough.