One Down, Two to Go

Despite arguably being outplayed on the weekend and being lucky to get away without an Aggie sweep, Texas took two of three from A&M and in the process emerged as Big XII Regular Season Champions. We're sure Augie and his boys feel terrible for removing any drama from the final weekend of the conference season, but they'll probably get over it.

You can get a full review of the series from Texas Sports: The 11-9 extra-inning Texas win in College Station on Friday, Aggie's 3-0 response in Austin Saturday, and the Longhorns' 5-4 rubber-game win on Sunday. Texas won Game Three despite being badly outhit, thanks to some first-inning generosity on the part of the Aggie defense. We're going to focus here less on a review of the series, which was essentially running here at BON all weekend, than on a look to the future.

This weekend makes one championship on the season for the Longhorns, who now set their sights on the Big XII Tournament and the subsequent NCAA Tournament. As we noted yesterday, winning the conference's regular season title puts Texas in prime position for a top eight national seed, which is a huge advantage in the hunt for a national championship. In case you have forgotten or never knew, here is a Cliff's Notes version of how the baseball tournament works:

Eight teams receive "National Seeds," appropriately numbered one through eight. Those schools are guaranteed to play at home for the first two weekends of the tournament, assuming they advance past the first. Sixty-four teams make the tournament field, starting in 16 double elimination, four-team "sub-regionals:" eight hosted by the national seeds, eight hosted by other schools. Each sub-regional is paired with another, and the two winners of paired sub-regionals meet the following weekend in "super regionals." Super regionals are glorified three-game series, and whichever team wins two games advances to the College World Series in Omaha.

So getting one of those top 8 national seeds goes a long way toward helping a team make the trip to Omaha. Of course, Texas' recent tournament struggles have all taken place in Austin, so there are obviously no guarantees.

Going forward, then, the Longhorns are off for the middle of the coming week before finishing the season with a Saturday double-header against Alabama A&M. Texas dispatched AAMU's fellow SWAC team Texas Southern last week, and the Bulldogs are even worse at 14-25 on the season. There is nothing to be gained and much to be lost on Saturday, as a loss in either game would hurt Texas' RPI, which is currently the highest it has been all season at third. In fact, simply playing the games at all will probably hurt the RPI a little due to the strength-of-schedule factor.

Should Texas get the two wins, though, merely avoiding a two-and-out performance in the Big XII tourney may well be enough to secure a national seed. This is when the college baseball season gets really fun, and Texas fans would be wise to savor it; it's an eternity between the final out and the opening kickoff.

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