We're getting so close to the tournament and the College World Series that I can taste it. And there is a lot of potential for it to taste very sweet. Perfect Game does weekly projection updates every once and awhile and they released their most recent one this morning. In their current projections the Hoosiers are not just a national seed, but comfortably so coming in at #5.
Since we are just recently becoming a baseball school some of us may need a reminder of how this exactly is supposed to work. Like basketball, baseball establishes a field of 64 to start the tournament. They are broken up into 16 regional sites throughout the country. The selection committee will seed each team in a site 1-4 with the #1 team being the host site. Indiana is all but guaranteed to be hosting at least a regional. They did so last year as well. They play a double elimination tournament between the four teams to get a winner.
The big payoff for any team would to land a national seed. Doing so guarantees that if you do win your Regional, you will be hosting the now Super Regional. Super Regionals are established with the 16 remaining teams from the first set of games. They play each other in a best of three series to see who advances to the College World Series in Omaha. As you'll recall, Indiana beat Florida State on their home field last year to advance into the College World Series.
Once into the CWS, things go back to double elimination. The 8 teams are separated into two brackets. And the survivors of the double elimination brackets square off in a best of three championship series. As you can see the Hoosiers and all teams do have some room for error, unlike in the basketball tournament. This set up allows for losses (as baseball is a much less predictable sport), but it doesn't allow for poor play. More than one off night during this stretch and your time is done. Which is why it is important to see our Hoosiers remaining consistent over the past 2 months and going forward.
As of right now, Indiana is slotted into the #5 national seed by Perfect Game. They would be hosting Canisius, Oregon and Indiana State if things ended today. That in and of itself isn't a super tough regional but Oregon and Indiana State aren't pushovers. Both the Sycamores and the Ducks fall in the top 25 RPI to date and the Hoosiers split the season series with Indiana State 1-1. Luckily they'll have to play each other first and the Hoosiers should get by Canisius with little effort. Meaning, the Hoosiers are going to have the advantage of only needing to get two wins in three efforts against the two. Meanwhile, Oregon and Indiana State are going to have to beat up on each other.
If Indiana gets through the regional, they'll still be hosting a Super Regional three game series in Bloomington. They'll likely need that advantage as well. The most likely opponent according to Perfect Game to be coming to Bloomington would be the Washington Huskies. The Huskies will have to fend of a strong Oklahoma State team as well, but either opponent would be formidable. Washington is currently sitting #6 in the Baseball America Top 25 and Oklahoma State is #13. Both also sit 26 and 27th in RPI.
No matter the match up whether Perfect Game nails their projection or not, we know that Indiana's road back to the CWS will not be without obstacles. I don't think it will be as tough as going into Tallahassee and getting two wins, but the road will be difficult. If they can get in though, with the way they've been playing, winning it all shouldn't be a surprise. They were projected to start the year as a National Championship contender and they're finishing that way. Can Indiana baseball net IU the first national championship since Men's soccer last year? We'll find out in the next few weeks.