Power Ranking the Top 10 Conferences in College Baseball

Opening Ceremony - 2011 College World Series  June 17, 2011

 

Entering the second month of play and the second week of conference play for most conferences, it is time to take a good look at college baseball and see how they stack up.

With four major polls ranking the schools, the “Big Six” conferences are all included, but what is more surprising is the four mid-major conferences that are also doing incredibly well.

The main poll that I will be using is from the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), but some teams are separately ranked by Baseball America (BA), Collegiate Baseball (CB) or the USA Today Coaches Poll.

In looking at past College World Series champions, the clear winner is the Pac-12 Conference with 27 championships in the 65-year history, but only four in the past 20 years.

The University of Texas leads the way with 34 appearances but the University of Southern California is hands-down the winningest team in college baseball history with 12 championships, including a five-year streak and seven out of 11 from 1963-1974.

Enough of the past, let’s check out the present and the conferences accordingly.

Southeastern Conference

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Can the Bayou Bengals get back to Omaha?

The SEC has seven teams ranked in the top 30 of the NCBWA poll for a composite conference ranking of 9.0. They have six teams ranked in all four polls, one team in two polls and another team in the top 25 of the Baseball America poll. Surprisingly absent from the list is the Florida Gators, who are suffering through an 11-15 season.

Three teams have represented the SEC the past two years in the College World Series and there was an all-SEC final in 2011 when South Carolina swept Florida in two straight games.

Here is the breakdown of the SEC in the rankings:

Louisiana State Tigers (23-2, 5-1 SEC)

Vanderbilt Commodores (22-4, 5-1 SEC)

Kentucky Wildcats (18-5, 4-2 SEC)

Arkansas Razorbacks (18-7, 4-2 SEC)

Ole Miss Rebels (21-4, 3-3 SEC)

South Carolina Gamecocks (19-6, 2-4 SEC)

Texas A&M Aggies (18-8, 5-1 SEC)

Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-6, 2-4 SEC)

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

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Can the Tar Heels finally win it all?

The ACC has five teams in NCBWA top 30 for a conference composite ranking of 11.4. They have the consensus No. 1 team and four teams ranked in all four polls with one team in two polls and another in one.

North Carolina and Florida State have been constants in Omaha with 30 appearances between the two teams. North Carolina has gone five of the past seven years and Florida State three of the last five. They are both also constants as an also-ran. UNC has lost twice and FSU three times in the championship game and are both still seeking their first title.

Miami is finally back on track and is looking to return to Omaha for the first time in five years. They have 23 appearances and four national championships. The ‘Canes still hold hold the record of six consecutive trips to the CWS from 1994-1999 and nine trips in 11 years, bringing home two championships in that time frame.

Here’s how the teams in the ACC rank:

North Carolina Tar Heels (23-1, 7-1 ACC)

Florida State Seminoles (23-2, 7-2 ACC)

Virginia Cavaliers (23-2, 7-2 ACC)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (19-5, 6-3 ACC)

North Carolina State Wolfpack (17-9, 3-6 ACC)

Miami Hurricanes (19-9, 4-5 ACC)

 

Pacific-12 Conference

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The Beavers are chipping away at the Pac-12 Title

The Pac-12 Conference had seven teams in all four polls prior to starting conference play, but blowout wins have knocked a couple teams out of the polls, including the defending national champion Arizona Wildcats.

There are three teams in the top 10 in all four polls with one team in two polls and another clinging on to one poll. Their NCBWA conference composite rank is 13.2.

In what seemed to be the Pac-12 against everybody else in the early years, teams that are now part of the Pac-12 won 16 times in a 21-year stretch from 1961-1981.

Since then, the Pac has allowed others to join in on the fun. The current national champion hails from the Pac-12, but it is only the sixth time in the past 32 years.

Three of the top four teams in CWS Final games are from the Pac-12 and four of the top six teams in CWS total games.

  • USC: 12-2 Finals, 74 total games
  • Arizona State: 5-5 Finals, 61 total games
  • Arizona 4-3 Finals, 38 total games
  • Stanford 2-3 finals, 40 total games

Here are the standings for the Pacific-12 Conference:

Oregon State Beavers (21-3, 5-1 Pac-12)

UCLA Bruins (17-5, 5-2 Pac-12)

Oregon Ducks (20-6, 6-1 Pac-12)

Stanford Cardinal (12-8, 2-2 Pac-12)

Arizona State Sun Devils (14-7-1, 3-4 Pac-12)

 

Big West Conference

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Are the Titans the best team in the West?

 

The Big West Conference is doing incredible things this year. The perennial champion Cal State Fullerton Titans are paving the way for others in the conference to make a name on the big stage. The Titans have made five CWS appearances in the past 10 years, including a national championship in 2004.

There are two teams form the Big West in all four polls and one in three polls. Their NCBWA conference composite rank is 17.66. The Big West begins conference play this weekend.

Here’s how they rank:

 

Cal State Fullerton Titans (21-4, 9-3 Home)

Cal Poly Mustangs (17-6, 9-3 Home)

UC Irvine Anteaters (16-5, 13-3 Home)

 

Big East Conference

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Can Louisville avenge its 2007 showing?

The Big East Conference isn’t known for its baseball prowess, but this year could be the year that changes public perception on the matter. Connecticut leads the league in CWS appearances with five but hasn’t made the trek to Omaha in over 30 years. Seton Hall went four times, including three times in the ’70s. Notre Dame has made two appearances, with 45 years in between appearances.

Louisville got into the act with their first appearance in 2007 but lost two straight. The Cardinals are the most recent Big East team to make the trip. There are two teams in all four polls and their NCBWA Conference Composite rank is 17.0. They also have a team that squeaked into the Collegiate Baseball poll.

 

Louisville Cardinals (19-5, 1-2 Big East)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (15-6, 2-1 Big East)

Pittsburgh Panthers (16-6, 3-0 Big East)

 

Conference USA

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Rice is no longer the best team in Houston

Conference USA has two teams that show up in all four polls and ranks as the No. 6 conference with a NCBWA conference composite rank of 21.0.

Only nine of the 12 teams in Conference USA field baseball squads and they all look up to one team—the Rice Owls. Baseball rules at Rice and with good reason.

The small school in Houston has made seven College World Series appearances including four times in the past decade with a national championship in 2003.

 

Houston Cougars (21-5, 3-0 C-USA)

Rice Owls (18-9, 2-1 C-USA)

 

The Rest

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With Texas struggling, all eyes are on Oklahoma

There are two remaining teams that show up in all four polls coming out of two separate conferences. The Big XII and Big Ten finally show up and prove that that middle America is no longer dominated by baseball.

The University of Texas, a mainstay of the college baseball landscape with seven appearances in the past 13 years and two championships is struggling. Oklahoma State has 19 total appearances but haven’t seen Omaha since before Y2K.

The Big Ten has all but forgotten about baseball as Michigan was the last team to represent the conference—in 1984. Nebraska had a good stretch of three appearances in five years, but they were in the Big XII at the time.

No. 7—Big XII

Oklahoma Sooners (23-4, 3-0 Big XII)

Oklahoma State Cowboys (19-5, 1-1 Big XII)

 

No. 8—Big Ten

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Can Indiana make the Big Ten proud?

 

Indiana Hoosiers (19-3, 3-0 Big Ten)

 

 

 

No. 9—Sun Belt

South Alabama (22-4, 5-1 Sun Belt)

 

No. 10—Atlantic Sun

Florida Gulf Coast (16-5, 2-1 A-Sun)

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