South Carolina, Clemson, the College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina nervously await today's unveiling of the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament bracket (ESPNU, noon) — for four different reasons:
College of Charleston Big question: Are the Cougars in?
Case against: 0-2 in the Southern Conference tournament. Samford winner gets an automatic bid as ?SoCon tourney champion, and ?Appalachian State, which won a ?series at LSU, is an at-large lock. ?The SoCon has received two or fewer NCAA bids every year expect one (2010).
Case for: Monte Lee's deep pitching staff and resourceful offense won at South Carolina, got its first win ever against Clemson, and beat Coastal Carolina — all since April 17. The Cougars (No. 44 Ratings Percentage Index, 37-20) have almost the same RPI and record as Elon did when landing a third bid for the SoCon in 2010.
Verdict: In. South Carolina Big question: Will the two-time defending College World Series champion get one of the precious national seeds given to the top eight teams in the tournament, almost ?ensuring super regional home games?
Case against: Despite a No. 12 RPI, South Carolina did not win a series against a team with a better RPI than No. 19 Arkansas.
Case for: 18-11 in the rugged SEC after a 1-5 start, and those sure 8,242 sellouts at Carolina Stadium.
Verdict: Yes, edging Stanford and Purdue for the last national seed.
Clemson Big question: Can the Tigers get ?a regional draw that allows them ?to advance to a super regional as a No. 2 seed?
Case against: A shaky No. 31 RPI.
Case for: 3-1 against sure national ?seed Florida State over the last two ?weeks and the nation's No. 6 strength of schedule, thanks to the ACC (again rated college baseball's ?toughest conference).
“We're a team people might not want to play if we come their way,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said at the ACC tournament in Greensboro.
Verdict: Not quite, just too ?inconsistent.
Coastal Carolina Big question: Will the Chanticleers ?suffer with the NCAA selection committee because of Josh Conway's Tommy John surgery?
Case against: Conway, rated as the top college pitching prospect in the state entering the season, went out with an elbow injury in late April.
Case for: Coastal Carolina won ?Big South regular season and ?tournament titles without Conway, relying on pitchers such as Bishop England High School graduate ?Ryan Connolly, the star of the Big South championship game win over Liberty.
Verdict: No, Coastal Carolina with a No. 39 RPI is a solid No. 3 seed that will play close to home.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff