Last weekend, the Tigers continued their hot streak, taking two of three from South Carolina. For the last couple of weeks, we've discussed what the Tigers have to do to make an NCAA Regional. We're past that. Unless the team absolutely collapses, Auburn seems certain to make the NCAA tournament. Now the question is, does Auburn have a chance of hosting an NCAA Regional?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The SEC normally gets four Regional hosting sites. Last year, the conference hosted five regionals but that was an unusual year. If the season ended today, the SEC would probably host four regionals. All season, Texas A&M, LSU, Vandy, and Florida have been viewed as being a cut above the rest of the conference. These teams and only these teams would host regionals if the season ended today.
If the conference was awarded a fifth regional, it would likely be given to Auburn. Auburn is ranked 7th in conference behind Missouri and Arkansas but has a better resume than these teams. Auburn's overall record is better than Missouri's and Arkansas'. Auburn has the best out-of-conference wins with victories over Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and a sweep over a surprisingly good Radford team. Auburn's in-conference strength of schedule is ridiculous. We had to play all four of the SEC's top teams. Auburn's RPI is 15th in the country. Arkansas is ranked 38 and Missouri is ranked 54. Comparing these resumes, Auburn should be the next team in line to host a regional.
Auburn has other factors going for it as well. The Tigers have hit their stride and are really hot right now. Auburn has great facilities. We've hosted successful regionals in the past and the campus is set up nicely for visiting fans. Auburn's baseball fans are starved for success. It's been five years since we last hosted a regional. The NCAA knows Auburn fans would pack Plainsman Park to see Auburn in postseason play.
Even with all of that going for us, Auburn's resume isn't good enough right now to expect a regional. We're going to have to win it on the field. Our remaining schedule sets up perfectly for us to do just that. We start this weekend against a struggling Alabama. Auburn should take 2-3 wins against Alabama. If we do, Auburn will have the opportunity to travel to Gainesville to show the NCAA that we and not the Gators deserve to host an NCAA regional.
If Auburn wins both series, our RPI would be too high for the selection committee to ignore. It's already higher than it was when we last hosted a regional in 2010.
All of these projections are meaningless if the Tigers don't take care of business on the field but for the first time in five years there's a chance. Let's enjoy it.