WVU’s Conference Finish In Hands Of Foes
West Virginia can finish third, fourth or fifth in the regular season Big 12 baseball standings, but it’s all out of the Mountaineers’ hands. WVU has completed its Big 12 slate with a 13-11 record, and as of Friday afternoon sits in fourth place, one game behind Oklahoma State (13-9) and one ahead of TCU (11-11).
The Cowboys and Horned Frogs each have two games remaining, against Baylor and Texas Tech, respectively.
To finish third, the Mountaineers need to have OSU lose twice and TCU lose one of its remaining two games. In that event, WVU and OSU would tie with a 13-11 conference mark, but the Mountaineers would take third place due to its series win over the Cowboys.
If Oklahoma State wins either of its final two games, it will lock up third place.
TCU must win its final two games against Texas Tech to tie WVU at 13-11, and in that case the Horned Frogs would win a two-way tiebreaker with WVU, as it holds a 2-1 series advantage over the Mountaineers. That would drop WVU to fourth, or to fifth if OSU wins either of its final two games.
Where it gets really complex is if OSU loses its final two and TCU wins its last pair. That would leave all three teams tied at 13-11. The teams are a combined 3-3 against each other, so the tiebreaker next goes to the winner of the first game of each series. TCU won game one against both WVU and OSU, so that would vault the Frogs to third, with WVU fourth due to its series win over the Cowboys.
All three teams will make the Big 12 Championship, which begins next Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, but getting a good seed is important, just as it is in any championship event. If it finishes third, WVU would avoid the top seed in the tournament until a potential match-up in the championship game.
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As far as hosting a regional goes, the Mountaineers are trying to claw their way back into the conversation. In order to host, they must win the remaining game against George Washington, and at least two games (three would be better) in the Big 12 Championship to remain in the discussion. As of Friday afternoon, WVU’s RPI was at 17, but it won’t be helped in its last game against GW, which is No. 216.
It should be remembered that this isn’t just West Virginia involved in this race – other schools that are in the mix can help or hurt the Mountaineers’ chances depending on what they do over the next week. Some teams to watch in that regard are Baylor, LSU, North Carolina, UC Santa Barbara and Missouri.
If West Virginia doesn’t grab a top 16 seed, it will certainly be a number two seed, and will almost assuredly get assigned to a regional fairly close to home. Only the top 16 teams in the tournament are seeded, so there is no S-curve as is used in the NCAA basketball tournament to place teams. Some care will be given to not place a highly-ranked team that just missed a regional hosting selection in the same regional with a top level No. 1 seed, but placement closer to home to reduce travel time and costs, and allow some fans to make a reasonable trip, is also a big factor.
Given those parameters, WVU might play at North Carolina or East Carolina if either of those teams host. Louisville might also be an option, but the Cardinals are in most every projection’s top eight seeds, and it would seem, based on history, that a team finishing on the bubble of hosting selection would travel to a team that would be in line to host a super regional.