Sooner diamond focus: postseason outlook

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners are squarely on the NCAA bubble, and Sooners Illustrated breaks down their likely chances of making the field of 64 with just two weeks left in the regular season.

The essentials:

Overall record: 30-19 (29-19 against Division I)

Conference record: 10-10 Big 12

Inside RPI: 67

If the season ended today: They would barely be out of the tournament based on a couple of factors. First off, their .500 conference mark in the first 20 games places them fifth in a subpar league. Undefeated Baylor has already clinched the conference and is a likely national seed, while Texas A&M is also safely in, ranked No. 10. Texas, just outside of the Top 25, is the third Big 12 team, and OU is 2 1/2 games behind each of those squads in the conference standings. That RPI is also bad news. A series victory over Baylor would go a long way in changing that and securing OU a spot in the field. But right now, it's on the cusp of getting in, could be an at-large, but probably not.

The good: The Sooners have very solid non-conference victories over Oregon and Arkansas. Oregon, ranked ninth in the country, boasts the No. 5 RPI in the country. Arkansas, also ranked in the Top 25 at No. 20, has the 12th best RPI in the nation. Those are two huge wins that could go a long way down the stretch.

The bad: OU missed out on great opportunities for both pivotal conference wins and RPI boosters against Texas and Texas A&M. It got swept in both series but had a chance to win almost every single game. The first Red River Rivalry game comes to mind when OU lost 7-6 in 11 innings, and it actually led in all three losses to the Aggies in College Station.

The ugly: The Sooners threw away two crucial leads in non-conference games against Dallas Baptist and TCU. They led 6-3 heading into the ninth in the first meeting against DBU and coughed it up and had a 3-1 advantage going into the eighth against TCU and found a way to lose. DBU beat the Sooners again, and OU and TCU play one more time in a week. Both of those teams have RPIs inside the Top 33, with DBU at No. 23. On top of that, OU has dropped three out of four to in-state rival Oklahoma State, a team also vying for the NCAA Tournament but likely on the outside looking in. The Cowboys, though, are tied with Texas A&M and Texas at 13-8 in Big 12 play and have that on OU.

OU could secure an at-large berth with: A series victory this upcoming weekend against Baylor, a win over TCU and a three-game sweep of Samford. If OU takes three of its next four games, two out of three against Samford would likely do it. Another scenario that probably gets them in is handing Baylor its first conference loss, although falling in the series two games to one, then sweeping the next four against TCU and Samford and winning at least two in the conference tournament.

At-large hopes are dashed away if: OU goes two-and-out in the Big 12 Tournament, likely losing to Kansas, and/or loses both of its final two series. The Sooners have to make a fairly deep run in Oklahoma City and win at least one of the final two series, preferably both with a win over TCU sandwiched in between.

Prediction: The Sooners will hand Baylor its first loss of the conference season at some point this weekend, beat the Horned Frogs, then sweep Samford. That puts them at 35-21 (34-21 vs. D-I) heading into the conference tournament. They'll likely get the No. 5 seed unless Missouri sweeps Kansas. That'll pit them against Oklahoma State (Texas A&M wins the series against OSU in the last week, Texas beats Baylor once and has the tiebreaker on OSU), and the Sooners will record the upset. They'll fall to Baylor in the winner's bracket before defeating Oklahoma State again. A second loss to Baylor puts them at 37-23 heading into regional selections. The Sooners just barely get in thanks to an increased RPI from games against Baylor, including a victory, and the series sweep over Samford.

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