Waiting Time For Auburn Baseball

Auburn will learn its NCAA fate on Monday, but Coach Sunny Golloway is confident the Tigers will hear their name called.

Auburn, Ala.--On Monday the Auburn baseball Tigers will find out their NCAA fate when the regional announcements are made at 11 a.m. CDT on ESPNU and Coach Sunny Golloway is expecting good news for his program. With the last regional for the Tigers coming in 2010, Auburn’s chances look good to break that streak and continue playing baseball this season because of a strong RPI and strength of schedule, and it’s something Golloway is ready for.

“Our name is going to be called,” Golloway said. “There is no doubt in my mind. When our name is called, it’s not something that has been the norm. I’ve sat there and looked at 2005 and 2010 (NCAA Tournament banners on outfield wall at Plainsman Park). I don’t see anything after that. I’m tired of seeing nothing out there.

“The first thing we’re going to do is have a watch party,” he added about Monday. “You guys are going to ask some questions and I’m going to leave and you’re going to wonder where I am. I’m going to be out there sticking 2015 on the wall because I’m sick and tired and not seeing it, that’s all there is to it.”

Why Auburn Is In

With an RPI of 22 in both Warren Nolan and Boyd’s World, Auburn is ranked as the fifth highest team out of the SEC. Throw in the No. 2 strength of schedule in the country as well as 12 wins over Top 50 RPI opponents and you have an Auburn team that has been tested against the best of the best with nine losses coming to teams ranked in the top six in RPI.

Finishing the season 35-24, Auburn’s win total of 21 games against non-conference opponents with a schedule strength of 75 gives the Tigers a non-conference RPI of 18 after the regular season. That trails only Florida, Texas A&M, LSU and Vanderbilt in the league.

Why Auburn Might Not Be In

The only question mark for the Tigers is that history isn’t totally on Auburn’s side. Only two times has an SEC team with 13 league wins made it in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers were one of those in 2005. Two seasons ago Texas A&M made the field of 64 with a 13-16 league record and an overall record of 32-27. That included wins over Florida and No. 1 Vanderbilt at the SEC Tournament.

Something that could give pause for Auburn’s chances is LSU’s 2011 season that ended without a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Finishing the year with a record of 36-20 overall and 13 SEC wins, LSU had an RPI of 26 and won six of its final seven games that season. Instead the committee put in both Georgia (31-30) and Mississippi State (34-21) in the field after both finished ahead of LSU in the standings, but neither had as high an RPI.

They also included Troy (RPI of 50) because of winning the regular season in the Sun Belt and St. John’s (54 RPI) because of its second-place finish in the Big East. It has happened before so it’s definitely something to keep in mind for Monday.

Final Verdict

Auburn should get in the field of 64 as a No. 3 seed and is one of eight SEC teams that should make the tournament. There is a good chance the Tigers will be sent West this year with Houston or Dallas Baptist possible landing spots, but don’t bet against the old stand-by of Tallahassee (Florida State) as Auburn's destination. An interesting possibility is Oklahoma State. With Josh Holliday coaching the Cowboys, the son of Auburn pitching coach Tom Holliday, there is a natural connection for Tigers in Stillwater. Throw in Golloway’s history at Oklahoma and you have the makings of an explosive regional if that happens.

NCAA Regional Sites

1. Dallas Baptist
2. TCU
3. Cal-State Fullerton
4. Florida
5. Miami
6. Texas A&M
7. Illinois
8. LSU
9. Houston
10. UC Santa Barbara
11. UCLA
12. Louisville
13. Vanderbilt
14. Missouri State
15. Florida State
16. Oklahoma State

Tiger Ticket Extra:

No matter the news for the Tigers on Monday they’re likely to be without the services of ace pitcher Keegan Thompson for the remainder of the year after he didn’t see the mound in any of Auburn’s three SEC Tournament games. Golloway didn’t rule out Thompson being available in a regional, but said it would only be for a very limited role.

“He still wants to try to see if he can pitch,” Golloway said. “We’re just going to kind of keep it as is and go to the regional with him. Even if he says ‘I can get two or three strong ones’ then we’ll get two or three strong ones out of him. After the season is over we’ll make a hard determination.”

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