The Southern Conference has never sent three baseball teams to the NCAA Regionals.

But depending on how things shake out in the SoCon tournament this week at Riley Park, this could be the year.

"It's difficult," said Elon coach Mike Kennedy. "We beat up on each other some in our league, and it ends up hurting us sometimes in trying to get a regional bid.

"But I would certainly think that The Citadel and College of Charleston are in good shape. And if one of those teams doesn't win it, hopefully we would get three. It's time."

The SoCon has established itself as a solid two-bid league, earning two berths in the 64-team regionals in five of the last six years, including an automatic bid for the SoCon tournament champion.

This season, the SoCon is ranked ninth among the 32 Division I conferences in RPI rankings, and the league boasts six teams in the top 61 in the RPI, according to warrennolan.com. Appalachian State, which finished seventh in the SoCon, has an overall record of 35-16-1 and an RPI of No. 58.

"Deepest tournament I can ever remember," said The Citadel coach Fred Jordan, in his 19th season. "Even the teams that did not make it are very good teams. This league has grown into a very, very powerful league, as far as the Southern Conference goes."

Baseball America writer Aaron Fitt thinks the SoCon will earn three bids, calling College of Charleston and The Citadel "safely in" and Elon on the bubble, but in. He has Georgia Southern on the bubble, but out.

SEBaseball.com also projects three bids for the SoCon, with College of Charleston a No. 2 seed at a South Carolina regional, Elon a No. 3 at Auburn and The Citadel a No. 3 at Coastal Carolina. It has Western Carolina and Georgia Southern among the first 15 out of the field.

Here's a look at the SoCon's NCAA contenders, with RPI stats from warrennolan.com:

--The Citadel (38-20, 24-6 SoCon, No. 35 RPI): Winning a solid league by two games and finishing the regular season with an eight-game win streak should be enough. Weak spot: A 1-8 record against the RPI top 50.

--College of Charleston (41-15, 22-8 SoCon, No. 25 RPI): Not even an 0-2 flameout in the SoCon tournament should keep the Cougars out. A 6-5 record against the top 50 includes two wins over No. 4 Coastal Carolina, a projected regional host.

--Elon (36-20, 19-11 SoCon, No. 51 RPI): Elon's 7-7 record against the top 50 includes a 6-1 record against the ACC and two wins over Clemson.

--Georgia Southern (34-22, 19-11 SoCon, No. 56 RPI): The Eagles played their way into a third seed in the SoCon tournament, but went 0-12 against the top 50 and 0-6 vs. The Citadel and College of Charleston.

--Western Carolina (34-19-1, 16-13-1, No. 61 RPI): Sixth-seeded Catamounts beat up on weaker teams (22-7 vs. 101 and below in the RPI) and probably need to win the tournament.

SoCon tournament history suggests that there is a 23 percent chance (it's happened six times in 26 years) that one of the top two seeds will not win the tournament. In the last five years, an eighth-seeded Furman team and No. 9 Wofford have pulled off tourney stunners to get into the regionals.

If something like that happens this year, The Citadel's Jordan knows not to count on anything.

"The prognosticators and smart guys feel like College of Charleston and The Citadel are in," he said. "I don't believe it, because I've been left at the altar several times after believing what they said. All you can do is go in and play as hard as you can and goes as deep as you can."