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Bo's Baseball Bites For April 5



When It Comes To The Bid-Leading SEC, How Much Will Be Enough To Get Called Selection Day?


DALLAS – That always-interesting Southeastern Conference diamond race is nearing the halfway point (all teams will have plated at least 12 of their 30 conference contests by Sunday), and speculation already has started.


How many SEC schools will get NCAA bids in 2024?


Some believe that as many as 11-12 (possible loop season record) might be among the 64 NCAA selections, and that actually is not a far fetched notion.


There were 11 SEC schools in a recent National Collegiate Baseball Writers Top 25 poll, and all 14 competitors have received votes in at least one national poll since the start of the ’24 campaign.


And a chart obtained by College Baseball Central shows the likelihood of teams with a certain number of victories making the NCAA field, which was expanded to its current, 64-team grouping in 1999 with the current regional and super regional format.


In fact, any SEC contender that reaches 16 victories (even in the 30-contest intra-loop schedule) is almost a certainty to advance to the NCAA postseason.


There have been 128 total SEC squads (most of any conference nationally), and all 128 either earned the automatic berths allotted to SEC tourney winners or the all-important at-large bids.


Just one notch below, with 15 conference victories there have been 26 SEC members with 19 receiving bids over the last 24 previous years (with no postseason competition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). SEC crews with 14 circuit wins (24 schools) have earned 15 bids while teams winning 13 conference games have advanced a total of 11 times (28 schools managed that number).


SEC schools with 12 conference wins have not been particularly successful in gaining at-large NCAA bids as 17 teams closed with 12, and just three advanced to the NCAA Championships.


If a team captures 11 SEC verdicts (it has happened 57 times since 1999), the odds definitely are stacked against postseason competition. No conference member has made it to the NCAA tourney, and, incidentally, no upset-minded school with less than 12 SEC victories ever has won the conference tourney held mainly in Hoover, AL, since 1990.


Making these figures a little more interesting is the fact that the SEC race expanded to 14 members with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M during the 2013 season. With that bump in competitors, the conference decided on a 30-game schedule with a maximum allowance of 26 non-conference clashes during the regular season.


That year saw a then-record nine SEC squads move on to the NCAA meet (including six of the seven in the SEC Western Division). Two 14-SEC-win teams – Alabama and Kentucky – earned at-large bids while 13-16 Texas A&M move to the NCAA tournament mainly because of the overall strength of schedule of the SEC and possibly due to the Aggies years-long contention as a national power in the Southwest and Big 12 Conferences.


With Southeastern Conference teams beating their brains out each weekend and home field advantage proving a very strong incentive again (as with No. 1 ranked nationally Arkansas sweeping then-No. 5 LSU March 28-30 in Fayetteville) and the conference remaining Nos. 1 or 2 in NCAA RPI and ELO rankings throughout the season, maybe this might be the year that an 11-19 SEC entry advances.


Stay tuned as past occurrences such as Ole Miss being the last of the 64 teams chosen and winning the 2022 NCAA Championship to SEC play-in members advancing to the NCAA World Series have made life even more interesting for SEC enthusiasts.


Just get to that 16-win plateau, and all seems to be well – even a 16-14 finish.


Bo Carter is the Executive Director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and is a long time professional in sports media and information. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has plied his trade in the Southeastern Conference, the Southwest Conference, and the Big 12 Conference. In addition to his NCBWA duties, he also serves as a consultant and columnist for the National Football Foundation. Follow the NCBWA, which produces ranking polls for D1, D2, and D3, as well as naming All America teams at both the D1 and D2 levels and the Dick Howser Trophy (presented each year in Omaha at the Men’s College World Series) at @NCBWA. And, if you’re a college baseball fan, you don’t have to be media to be a member, check them out at ncbwa.com and join today!


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