For the third consecutive seaon, the 23rd-ranked Bearkats are playing the waiting game to see if they’ve done enough to warrant inclusion to the 64-team NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament that gets underway this week.
Unlike the previous two years in which Sam Houston State earned an at-large spot and squeaked into the NCAA tournament, the Kats are standing on much better ground of getting in and earning an at-large berth, which goes out to the 34 teams that did not earn their league’s automatic berth the selection committee deems most worthy.
A number of factors come into play for that scenario to come into fruition, such as how a team did in the regular season in its conference, its RPI and nonconference results.
Here’s a look at how the Bearkats fare in some of these factors and what it means for the Kats chances.
One of the keys that helped Sam Houston earn at-large selections the previous two years was that the Kats had won the Southland Conference regular-season championship outright.
Sam Houston was one of five teams from mid-major leagues that won its conference’s regular-season championship and ended up as an at-large selection.
Knowing that, the Bearkats buckled down in the final stretch of the regular season.
Sam Houston closed the regular season winning 14 of its final 15 games, none more important than sweeping its final four conference series against Houston Baptist, Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeastern Louisiana, which picked up the league’s automatic berth Saturday by winning the conference tournament.
The RPI or Ratings Percentage Index is a metric that is used to judge how strong a team is or if the record is due from having a light schedule. The RPI is calculated from a team’s winning percentage, its opponents’ winning percentage and the winning percentage of the opponents’ opponents as well as the strength of schedule.
Typically, the RPI needs to rank in the top 50 for consideration as an at-large.
In that category, the Bearkats are doing much better this year than last season and 2012.
In 2012, Sam Houston went 2-2 in the conference tournament and had an RPI of 49, according to Warrennolan.com. The Kats were tabbed as an at-large selection for the first time in school history.
Last season, the Bearkats were eliminated in three games from the Southland tournament and saw their RPI increase from 40 to 48. Again, the Kats were picked to play in the NCAA tournament.
This season, the Kats are primed to easily make the field.
Thanks to victories over Rice (RPI No. 8), TCU (No. 12), Texas Tech (No. 17), Texas A&M (No. 41), Houston (No. 11) as well as taking two of three from Dallas Baptist (No. 30), Sam Houston has positioned itself well.
Even after going just 1-2 in the conference tournament, the Kats have an RPI of 38 on Warrennolan.com and 37th on Boydsworld.com.