As the spring semester winds down, we get closer to the final events on the NCAA calendar: the division I softball and baseball tournaments. The softball tournament begins in four weeks (field is announced on May 13) and the baseball tournament begins in six weeks (field is announced on May 27). As you should know by now, our softball team is an absolute lock for the postseason and is in the running for the #1 overall national seed. As a matter of fact, the Cal softball team is so good right now that it would be a tragedy if they did not receive a national seed even if they lost every one of their remaining 9 regular season games (which hopefully won't happen). The baseball team is another story, they are 64th in RPI and are not ranked (or receiving votes) in the writers or coaches poll. If RPI was the only thing that counted in selecting the field of 64, then Cal would get the VERY LAST spot in the tournament, but because it is not the only factor, Cal needs a good showing in the final 4 weeks of the regular season to secure a berth in the NCAA baseball tournament.
I am not going to go through and name a possible field of 64 for the softball tournament, because our softball Bears are so utterly dominant, that I am sure they will do well no matter where they land. Baseball, however, needs to be looked at with a magnifying glass, to try and find a path for our Bears to make the tournament. So . . . let's look the 64 teams that I think would be in the tournament if the season ended today:
30 Automatic Bids (Conference Regular Season or Conference Tournament Champions)
As you can see here, about half of these teams are completely undeserving of a spot in the postseason, but as of today, these teams lead their respective conferences and would get an automatic bid over a much more deserving team in a much tougher conference.
34 At-Large Bids
If the bracket were to come out like this, then the Pac-12 would have 6 teams in the tournament (Arizona, UCLA, furd, Oregon, Oregon State, and USC). The only conference with more would be the SEC with 7 teams in. The Pac-12 would likely have 7 teams in this model if Arizona State weren't on probation, but alas they are and there is nothing we can do about that.
Here are the first 10 out:
If I am correct, our Golden Bears need to play well enough to move up SEVEN spaces to try and at least get one of the final spots in the tournament. It is inevitable that a few teams in my field of 64 will go on a skid, and it is up to Cal to take care of business and do what is necessary to make the postseason.
At this point, California still has to face 3 teams that are in the top 25 in terms of RPI and 1 team that is in the top 100. Oregon is 21, Arizona is 19, UCLA is 5, Wazzu is 73, and furd is 13. There are plenty of opportunities to get a few more quality wins to boost our postseason resume and I have to agree with Coach Esquer when he says that if Cal goes .500 (8-8) against those teams (1 game against Wazzu is a non conference game), then we are probably in the tournament. You can thank the quality of Cal's remaining opponents for that. This weekend, we have to hope our Bears take 2 of 3 from the Ducks, which will not be an easy task considering the fact that Oregon is #14 in the nation and the series is in Eugene. HOWEVER, we are getting Oregon at a good time; I have been hearing through the grapevine that they have been decimated by injuries recently and have lost 3 of their last four to Washington State and Oregon State. A series win for the Bears this weekend would be absolutely HUGE . . . let's hope they start it off right with a win tonight (knock on wood). Pullman has not been kind to the Bears in the past, but they need to take care of business against the Cougars and take at least 2 of 3 from them. If not, we are in trouble with three VERY DIFFICULT series against Arizona, UCLA, and the furd to close out the season. The goal for the series against the Wildcats, southern annex, and the trees is just not to get swept, if we can take just one game a piece against both teams, and the try to get a second game from one of the three then we will be in excellent shape. Any other wins during this stretch would just be icing on the cake. Cal also has one more non-conference game left against Washington State in Berkeley, and it would definitely be helpful to take that game as well.
The next five weeks will prove whether or not our Golden Bears are contenders or not with 15 very tough conference games ahead of us. Hopefully they will have done enough come May 27. Fasten your seat belts!
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