This is that time of year that keeps wavering, can’t decide if it wants to keep spring around for a while or just barge right into another hot, humid summer.
Every morning seems wishwashy — which way will it go today?
For LSU baseball, with a couple of weeks to go in the regular season, it’s generally that time of year when fans start wondering if the Tigers can earn one of the eight national seeds to the NCAA Tournament, which always means the option of hosting a super regional if things go according to plan in the annual regional festivities.
It’s one of those rites of the spring-summer transition and makes quite a two-week party at Alex Box Stadium.
Uh, not this year.
None of that fun stuff is in play for LSU this season. Off the table.
There will be no NCAA baseball tournament played in Baton Rouge.
This year the Tigers will take whatever they can get and they’ll like it.
And there’s no guarantee that those marching orders to travel to somebody else’s regional will ever come, no sure thing that they will get anything.
As McNeese coach Justin Hill explained it: the Tigers picked the wrong year to be a young team in the Southeastern Conference.
The always-dominant league is a beast like we’ve never seen before.
Of course, LSU likes to think it invented SEC baseball, so it’s kind of strange to see the Tigers all but sitting out the strongest bulk of talent and loaded teams the league has ever assembled.
The D1 Baseball website, for my money the most reputable of the myriad of polls out there, has the nation’s top four ranked teams all from the SEC — Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
Three more are in the top 25, making seven total.
It’s been as many as nine in one poll earlier in the year and 12 of the 14 have been ranked by somebody at some point. But as long as they insist on playing (and beating up on) each other every weekend, common-sense math dictates that somebody has to occasionally lose, sometimes through no fault of their own.
It could have been worse. SEC coaches toyed with the notion of playing four-game conference series instead of three due to COVID-19 fears.
Three has been enough of a minefield.
That’s sort of what LSU, which has already played weekend series against the big four, got caught up in.
Enough about polls.
Right now D1 Baseball’s latest projections — the ones I’d put money on — have LSU as one of the “first five out,” of the NCAA Tournament.
Same boat for Alabama (28-17, 11-12), which LSU hosts this weekend.
But it’s not as dire as LSU’s 9-15 conference record might suggest.
Going into Tuesday afternoon’s game against Louisiana Tech the Tigers were 29-18 overall — not great, certainly, but workable for this exercise.
Louisiana Tech, ranked No. 14, is projected to host a regional in Ruston as a No. 1 seed.
LSU’s best argument is its RPI of No. 22, your friendly rating percentage index which is one of several metrics used by the selection committee.
But it’s not the be-all, end-all.
Tech, for instance, was two spots behind LSU in the RPI at No. 24, yet the Bulldogs are seen as a No. 1 seed while the Tigers are on the outside looking in.
It’s pretty obvious that the mark against LSU is that unsightly conference record.
Supposedly that selection committee considers “body of work” with no regard to conference affiliation or standings. But nobody buys that.
If LSU wants in, the Tigers have to tidy up that conference record over the final two regular-season weekends with Bama (No. 29 RPI) and at Texas A&M (27-23, 7-17).
Somebody has established “13” as the magic number. No idea how they arrived at it, but history does bear out that SEC teams need 13 conference wins to make the NCAA Tournament.
And even that has been iffy, more like a minimum requirement than a guarantee.
You might need the sweetener of a deep run in the SEC Tournament.
That would mean LSU needs to go no worse that 4-2 over the final two weekends. It would be far safer to get to 14.
Maybe the committee sees the SEC as a perennial powerhouse this season and grades on the curve this one time.
You wouldn’t want to count on that, though.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org