The College of Charleston baseball team isn’t very popular. Only 506 people showed up Sunday at Patriots Point to see a critical Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title-clinching victory over UNC Wilmington.
The Cougars are 1-3 against mediocre South Carolina and Clemson this season.
They play in a tiny ballpark and belong to the mid-major Colonial Athletic Association.
And yet a Charleston Regional with the Cougars hosting at Patriots Point makes perfect NCAA baseball tournament sense. It will probably happen if a 39-11 team wins the last two games of a series at Northeastern after a 5-4, 10-inning loss Thursday and keeps winning.
The College of Charleston, No. 16 on the latest official NCAA ratings percentage index (RPI) list, will deserve an NCAA regional and accompanying T-shirts if they win the CAA Tournament at home next week.
All it takes is a little inside-out thinking to see why a Charleston Regional idea has gained momentum from campus offices (the College of Charleston will formally submit a Patriots Point bid with flexibility allowing for Riley Park if South Carolina is in the field) to cyber space (reputable d1baseball.com projects the Cougars to host).
That 1-3 record against the Gamecocks and Tigers?
Odd as it sounds in typical years, the Cougars’ combined 5-0 record against Coastal Carolina and UNC-Wilmington — much better teams than South Carolina and Clemson — will weigh more heavily with the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
Cozy capacity (2,000) at Patriots Point?
The College of Charleston will counter with temporary bleachers, thinking that a true home-field advantage and the good problem of tough tickets edges the Charleston RiverDogs’ welcome mat and 3,000 more seats at Riley Park.
Poor home attendance record?
Not a big deal with a good combination of No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. The RPI list offers enough juicy friendly geography to insure a solid Charleston Regional foursome.
Mix and match:
No. 19 Coastal Carolina
No. 20 North Carolina
No. 37 N.C. State
No. 38 East Carolina
No. 56 South Carolina
No. 65 Clemson
The folks at d1baseball.com project a Charleston Regional of No. 1 College of Charleston, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 3 Maryland and No. 4 Central Michigan.
Even better: Coastal Carolina in Charleston as the No. 2 allows for an ACC team (N.C. State, most likely) as a No. 3.
Dream Charleston Regional: 1. Cougars, 2. Coastal Carolina, No. 3 South Carolina, No. 4 The Citadel, Wofford or Furman.
The Citadel (eighth place in the Southern Conference) probably won’t win next week’s SoCon Tournament at Riley Park, but third-place Wofford and fifth-place Furman have a shot at sewing up the automatic bid that will mean an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed.
This is far from a done deal.
Moving parts include South Carolina, which can help the Charleston cause by winning the LSU series this week and getting at least one victory in the SEC Tournament to salvage an NCAA Tournament case.
Clemson needs wins at Florida State this week and in the ACC Tournament, at least.
The Cougars might have some allies on a 10-person NCAA Baseball Committee that includes Eric Hyman, the former South Carolina athletic director now at Texas A&M, and Robert Lawson Goodman, a CAA senior associate commissioner. Goodman will have to bow out of College of Charleston decisions but his presence can’t hurt.
All the committee members will know the Cougars won the Gainesville Regional last year before losing a pair of 1-0 games at the Lubbock Super Regional.
The College of Charleston would be the favorite in a Charleston Regional.
If the Cougars win, hosting a Super Regional is a possibility. All it takes is a few upsets on the other side of the bracket, the kind of inside-out baseball that has defined the College of Charleston’s season.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff