Heading into the Big 12 tournament, Texas was riding high as the Big 12 regular season champions and looked to be in very strong position to host a regional. The momentum was halted though after an 0-2 showing in Oklahoma City, leaving Longhorn fans a little nervous heading into Sunday night, when the regional sites are announced.
The Texas bats went quiet in losses to Kansas and Oklahoma, combining to score 3 runs and only mustering 10 hits. Nolan Kingham received the start on the mound on Thursday morning and fought his way through 5 1/3 innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and striking out 1. At the plate, Jake McKenzie led the way with a 2 for 2 performance. The loss will send the Longhorns back to Austin as they await the NCAA Tournament. The number one thing on fans minds is will Texas host a regional? Let’s take a look at some important number that the selection committee will be looking at:
*Numbers are current as of today, but can change with the results of other games.*
Non-Conference SOS- 22
Record vs Group 1 Teams- 12-14
The first number the majority of people look at is RPI, which takes into account wins and losses along with strength of schedule. The Longhorns currently sit at 20, which is 6 spots lower than where they began the week. While a RPI of 20 is pretty good, it is a far cry from where the Longhorns could have been with a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament.
Overall strength of schedule and non-conference strength of schedule is where Texas has the advantage over pretty much any other team who may be under consideration for the last few regional host spots. Earlier in the week, D1Baseball.com projected Texas as the 12th seed nationally, with East Carolina, UConn, NC State and Minnesota the other regional hosts who were ranked behind Texas. If Texas were to be compared with these 4 teams in terms of strength of schedule, it would go:
Overall Strength of Schedule- Texas (18), East Carolina (28), NC State (36), UConn (45), Minnesota (65)
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule- Texas (22), East Carolina (42), Minnesota (60), UConn (105), NC State (160)
Throughout the season, the Longhorns played 26 games against teams who currently have a Top 50 RPI, going 12-14 in those games. The 26 games played ranks 10th among teams who have a top 25 RPI. David Pierce talked briefly last week about the Longhorns ‘intent to schedule’, which means when Texas put the teams on the schedule, they believed they would have a good RPI. An example of this could be LSU, who the Longhorns visited the second week of the season. The Tigers took 2 of 3 from Texas, but have dealt with some rough stretches throughout the season and only have a RPI of 42.
Texas also has key road series wins against Oklahoma and Texas Tech on their resume. The series win against Red Raiders should stick out considering the Longhorns were the only team to take a series in Lubbock this season.
Despite the showing in Oklahoma City the past few days, I find it hard to believe there will not be a regional in Austin next weekend. The full body of work points to a team who should be a regional host. As mentioned above, Texas was the regular season conference champions of the #2 RPI conference in the country. The strong strength of schedule and the willingness for Texas to play a tough non-conference slate should work heavily in the Longhorns favor.