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How to judge Wichita State's NCAA chances?

We’ve spent a lot time complaining about what the Wichita State baseball team is not this season. Now it’s time to focus on what the Shockers are.

WSU is a young team, often starting freshmen at C, 1B, LF and CF and sophomores at SS and 2B. Two of its weekend pitchers are freshmen, and its top two bullpen arms are sophomores. With that lineup, the Shockers, almost without warning and to the disbelief of many, built a resume that says the NCAA selection committee will take a look. The Shockers (32-22) aren’t anywhere close to a lock, and they need to keep winning. My ballpark guess would be 37 or 38 victories makes their resume hard to overlook.

It would be nice to pick up at least one win over Indiana State or Missouri State in the MVC Tournament, and tonight’s game at Nebraska could add another top-100 win. WSU is out of home games, and that’s a problem. The Shockers are 8-9 on the road, so at that clip they might go roughly 4-4 the rest of the way. They need to sweep Creighton, and even that will be difficult to do on the road.

WSU’s case starts and finishes with its No. 33-ranked strength of schedule. I use warrennolan.com’s figures, because it is an easy-to-use site. How significant is it to rank No. 33? It is better than any Big 12 team other than No. 20 Baylor. Twenty-six of the schools ahead of WSU are from the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12. It ranks ahead of regional locks such as Rice, Kentucky, Texas A&M, TCU and Dallas Baptist.

The past two seasons, WSU ranked No. 109 (2011) and No. 125 (2010) when it needed an at-large berth. Thirty-three of WSU’s 54 games are against top-100 teams,  and it is 16-17 against those teams. Teams that are hosting regionals will often own a higher winning percentage against the top 100 (Florida, for example, is 27-13). Once you get past that group, going .500 against the top 100 is solid (Arizona State is 20-15, Clemson 19-18, Dallas Baptist 12-13, Ole Miss 17-16).

How does WSU compare to some teams it will likely fight for at-large spots? Of this group, WSU ranks behind Wake Forest for number of top-100 games and strength of schedule. Will the committee reward the Shockers for playing that schedule? Can the Shockers win enough games to make that SOS the deciding factor?

Stetson (34-18)

No. 39 RPI

1-5 vs. top 50, 9-8 vs. 51-100

Strength of schedule – No. 61

Wake Forest (28-22)

No. 40 RPI

11-17, 2-4

SOS – No. 18

Indiana State (39-12)

No. 41

4-2 – 8-5

SOS  - No. 165

Wichita State (32-22)

No. 42

6-7, 10-10

SOS – No. 33

Louisville (35-17)

No. 43

6-5, 9-5

SOS – No. 84

College of Charleston (34-17)

No. 44

3-8, 7-6

SOS – No 79

North Carolina-Wilmington (32-19)

No. 45

5-10, 5-4

SOS – No. 50

Missouri State (35-17)

No. 46

3-4, 7-5

SOS – No. 92

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