The posteason bubble is a magical place both coveted and despised by teams looking for a tournament berth. It is a race between teams trending up at the right time, like the Bears, a scuffle to finish on the right side of the bubble as the season comes to a close.
For every team that manages to squeak into the tournament, however, there is always a little bit of luck involved. College squads don’t just need to focus on their games; they also hope that the other teams on the bubble trip and stumble enough to let other teams pass them by.
Cal could not be more squarely on the bubble. Sitting with an unorthodox postseason resume of a 14-13 conference record and an 86 RPI, the Bears are by no means a lock for the tournament. As a matter of fact, D1Baseball currently has Cal as one of the last two teams in the tournament.
And while a series win against Oregon would almost definitely put the Bears into the field, other bubble teams would also have to lose this weekend if Cal was to falter.
Below is a list of all the teams that were on the D1 Baseball bubble at the beginning of this week and how they have fared thus far, as of Thursday afternoon.
Thursday, May 27 Update
San Diego (0-0)
North Carolina (0-1)
Long Beach State (0-0)
Baylor (0-2), DNP
Pittsburgh (1-1), DNP
Oklahoma (0-2), DNP
Virginia Tech (0-2), DNP
LSU (0-1), DNP
Kentucky (0-1), DNP
Georgia (1-2), DNP
DNP = Does not play any more games
Strikethrough = Most likely eliminated from contention
Bold = Most likely in
That means 21 teams fighting for about 10 spots. With their 0-2 performances in their respective conference tournaments, however, Baylor, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech have all but taken themselves out of the conversation. Kentucky, which needs a couple wins to stay in the hunt, is also off the bubble now.
On the flip side, Duke (2-0) has most likely secured a spot in the field. Alabama has also put itself in a good position with two wins, but it’s likely that only two of the three SEC teams left (Alabama, Georgia and LSU) will be invited to the tournament. Pittsburgh just fell to NC State tonight, but despite the loss and their recent struggles, the Panthers most likely did enough early in the year to punch their ticket.
That leaves eight spots for 15 teams, which is better odds than in past years for a bubble team.
The rest of the ACC teams will look toward tomorrow’s full schedule for their next chase at a signature win. Like Cal, the Big Ten squads Maryland, Iowa and Indiana, as well as the other West Coast schools on the bubble, will play a normal conference series starting Friday.
Bubble teams will also be watching mid-major tournaments, such as the MAAC, where 36-2 Fairfield will still make the tournament even if it loses the automatic conference bid, which would steal a spot from a bubble team.
Noah Parker covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].