MSU awaits regional opponents

 

Ben Portnoy

 

 

The Mississippi State baseball team has to play the waiting game. 

 

After being eliminated from the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 12-2 loss to LSU Friday, MSU will await their NCAA Tournament fate as Monday's selection show nears. 

 

The Bulldogs are virtually guaranteed to host a regional and be selected as a top-eight national seed, meaning they would host the Super Regional round, as well, if they qualify. Though the draw hasn't officially been announced, a number of teams have been floated around regarding who could visit Starkville next weekend. 

 

Both Illinois (36-19) and Illinois State (34-24) have been mentioned as potential No. 2 seeds in an MSU regional of late. The Fighting Illini were swept out of the Big Ten tournament with losses to Maryland and Michigan but sit at No. 29 in the RPI. 

 

Illinois State was marginally more successful in the Missouri Valley Tournament, winning its first two games before falling to Dallas Baptist and Indiana State. 

 

Connecticut (36-22) and California (32-18) could also factor in as No. 2 seeds given their No. 28 and 31 RPI rankings, respectively. 

 

MSU would likely see an opponent in the No. 40-48 RPI range as a No. 3 seed in the regional. Teams in that realm include Brigham Young (36-17), Duke (31-25) or UCF (36-22). 

 

Clemson (34-24) could also sneak into the field as a No. 3 seed, given they boast an RPI ranking of 38 and are 8-7 against the RPI top-25. 

 

A mid-major conference tournament champion will likely fill the final spot in the Starkville regional. Baseball America's latest projection slots Fordham (38-22) in this spot, while D1baseball.com's most recent field had Jacksonville State (36-21). 

 

Both teams secured their spots in the NCAA field Saturday. Jacksonville State defeated Moorhead State in the Ohio Valley Conference championship and Fordham took down Dayton for the second time in as many days to win the Atlantic-10 Tournament title. 

 

The 16 regional hosts will be announced Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and the full bracket will be revealed at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPNU.

 

Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch.

 

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