Can Gators make the NCAA cut?
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 9:21 p.m.
Florida's chances of making the NCAA Tournament field took a severe hit with the Gators' one-and-done performance Tuesday in the SEC Baseball Tournament. But it's not necessarily a knockout blow.
What: NCAA Baseball Championship Selection Show.
When: Monday at noon.
Despite the 6-3 loss to Texas A&M in Hoover, Ala., a setback that continued UF's disappointing late-season slide, the Gators are making a case for why they belong in the NCAA Tournament even with a 29-28 overall record and 14-17 mark in the SEC.
The Gators have two things going for them: strength of schedule (top five in the nation) and an RPI in the top 30 in the nation.
“We're going into it with the mindset that we're in,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.
Perfect Game's Kendall Rogers said the Gators are in a situation similar to Georgia's two years ago. The Bulldogs finished only two games over .500 (32-30), but got the invitation based on strength of schedule and RPI.
“It's a 50-50 situation for Florida right now,” Rogers said. “Florida will have a stronger resume than that Georgia team had, but it's different from year to year.
“You look at UF. The No. 3 strength of schedule in the country, they won over 10 games against top 25-RPI teams, they won 20 games against top-100 teams. When you put it all together, I think Florida will get in. But I don't think it's clear-cut by any stretch of the imagination.”
O'Sullivan concedes that losing nine of their last 11 SEC games has hurt the Gators' chances. But he said he's confident the selection committee will place more importance on the Gators' overall resume, which O'Sullivan said is stronger than the record indicates.
“The thing they look at is strength of schedule. It's arguably the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country,” O'Sullivan said. “Our RPI is very good. We've got quite a bit of wins against top 50 in the country. I think we have 19 wins against top 100 in the country.
“Once you play a tough schedule … when you do that sometimes you leave yourself open not to have the prettiest record at the end of the year. But anybody could come up with a schedule and get 35, 36, 37 wins. We've had our ups and downs.
“The negative is we didn't finish strong. That's obvious. But we had a lot of good weekends in between. It's just that everybody's memory is short-sighted. They remember what you did in the last three weeks. I understand.”
Rogers said the Gators' dismal close to the season will be a factor in the selection committee's decision.
“The committee will talk about those last 10 to 12 games,” Rogers said. “No doubt, Florida did not finish strong. They've given the committee a reason not to put them in by doing that.
“While their resume is impressive, the way they ended the season will be a huge factor. They played a tough schedule after losing a lot of guys. The question from the committee is what's more important, the way they finished the season or the fact they won that many games against an insanely tough schedule.”
The Gators will know the answer Monday when the field is announced on ESPNU at noon.
O'Sullivan said the late-season fade should not diminish some of the Gators' accomplishments from earlier in the season, including winning two of three against Miami, sweeping South Carolina (3-0) and taking two out of three from Ole Miss.
“This team has played well at different points during the season,” O'Sullivan said. “At the end of the day, it's the committee's decision.
“We put a very difficult schedule together and I think that's what they want. We play in the toughest conference in the country and won 14 games and finished eighth. I think it's a pretty good resume.”
Perfect Game projected earlier this week that the Gators would be the No. 3 seed in the Tallahassee regional, but that projection came out before UF went one-and-done in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday night.
Rogers said Wednesday he's giving the Gators a slightly better than 50-percent chance of getting into the field now.
“It's a little iffy,” he said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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