Sweed4Heisman asked an interesting question in the comments section of yesterday's baseball recap about whether or not Texas is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament altogether. We started a response there, but realized it was going to be too long so we moved it to the front page.
The answer to both of the questions asked yesterday is yes: the worried thoughts do have merit, and it does seem worse because of the four-game skid and losing six of the last seven. Kirk Bohls has a very thoughtful commentary on the state of the team, which is interestingly linked from the Baton Rouge Advocate in noting the parallels between the high standards that Texas and LSU baseball must live up to simply to reach basic expectations.
But that's not the meat of the question. Several years ago, when the baseball tournament consisted of only 48 teams, we would have said that Texas was in real trouble. But as it is, with 64 teams making the Tournament, as long as Texas can right the ship to the tune of at least .500 ball over the final three weeks they should be fine. Texas sits at 5th place (out of 10) in the Big 12 with an 8-10 conference record and a 23-16 overall mark. By comparison, the 6th place team in the SEC (all 12 schools play baseball) is Tennesee with a 10-8 conference record and a 23-16 overall record, and the 5th place team in the Pac-10 is UCLA at 4-5 and 19-16.
So Texas is right on par with middle-of-the-pack teams in the other two power conferences, and as a general rule each of those three leagues gets at least 6-7 teams in the Tournament. Additionally, Texas is #47 in the ISR and roughly #35 RPI--neither of which will knock the Selection Committee's socks off, but both are comfortably in the top 64. Include in any calculations the fact that the Longhorns play the 14th toughest schedule this year and that the front of their jerseys still say "Texas."
None of that is meant to indicate that it's a sure thing. Finishing the season on the same type of run they're on now will almost certainly keep Texas out. But a spot should be secure with a decent regular season finish and a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament. And (what good is being a fan if you can't live off of hope?) a fantastic finish may be enough to get the 'Horns some consideration to host a subregional as a two-seed because of the great fan support in Austin.
[Note by 40AS, 04/22/08 1:31 PM EDT ] Upon further review, the Strength of Schedule link above is based on preseason information. The link to the ISR rankings shows Texas' current SoS at 32.