With the Tigers having an no games during Finals week on campus, let’s take a look at what is left for Auburn on the schedule, what the Tigers need to do going forward and what is still left out there in terms of the post season. First, let’s take a look at where Auburn is as far as the Polls and the RPI.
Much more importantly is that as of Thursday morning, the Tigers cruise in with an RPI of 4th in the country. For you shooty hoops fans, you understand what that RPI means. It’s one of the main matrix that the NCAA Committee uses to seed teams; and in college baseball, also to choose Regional sites. If you are one of those 16 teams, that’s great, but if you can get a Top 8 National seed and win your regional, you are guaranteed to host the Super Regional the next weekend. Since the tournament expanded in 1999, Auburn has been a National Seed in one season, 2003 when Auburn didn’t take advantage of the benefits and fell to Ohio State in the Regional Championship. That season, Auburn finished at 8 in the RPI prior to the Tournament but earned the 4 overall seed. Other stats to keep in mind, the worst ever RPI for a team that got a top 8 was 2001 Tulane, who was 19th in the RPI but got an 8 seed. More recently, Texas Tech was 14 in 2016 and got a 5 overall seed. Other than that, you need to have a high RPI number to get that Top 8 seed.
Now, let’s jump to Auburn’s remaining schedule.
Not a whole lot left but there is still plenty of meat on the bone. This weekend is massive because, even though Arkansas doesn’t have a top 10 RPI (#28) they are leading the Western division. A series win by Auburn puts the Tigers in the driver seat to tie for the division or possibly win outright. Auburn would also own the Tiebreakers over LSU and Texas A&M as well so all tiebreakers would be held by the Tigers. I don’t know if they would get a bump up in the RPI just because they are so high and the teams above them (Tennessee and Oregon State mainly) have matrix so far ahead. Auburn could catch Georgia, especially if Dogs falter to Vandy but having a top 5 RPI is exactly what you want so that’s fine where it is.
A series win over Arkansas this weekend in my opinion will all but clinch that national seed for Auburn. Sure, they would still need to handle their business against Alabama and Kentucky along with going through the motions in Hoover but a 6-3 conference finish along with wins over Samford and Troy would put Auburn at 39-17 overall and if the Tigers can get a sweep somewhere, that turns in to 40-16 and that is a slam dunk National seed. Even if they must get that win in Hoover, that could do it as well.
Should the Tigers fall to Arkansas and go, let’s say 5-4 in the conference to finish, that would put the Tigers at 17 conference wins and I believe that would be enough to host for sure and possibly slide into a national seed depending on how other teams at the top finish but I couldn’t see anything higher than an 8 seed if that. Anything less than a 5-4 finish in the conference and you are probably looking at a 2 seed in the tournament, mainly because how closely bunched the SEC is this season. The good news is that the Tigers look to be a hard lock for the NCAA tournament this season. I don’t see any way the Tigers go 0-11 to finish and get locked out, which is good. The main thing for Auburn now is, keep winning ballgames by any means necessary, keep that RPI as high as you can get it, try to win the West and get that #2 seed in Hoover. Make it hard for the committee to not give you a National Seed, because Auburn has built the resume to be strong in the discussion in May, and that’s really all you can ask for.