Sunday afternoon was rough for several bubble teams, including South Carolina.
With automatic bids at stake in conference tournaments, several upsets occurred including Texas, St. John’s, Maryland, Southern Miss and Missouri State all losing.
Four of those five teams should earn an at-large bid with Maryland being a bubble team.
With conference tournament winners earning an automatic bid, four or five teams on the bubble will not make the NCAA Tournament.
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USC had a case for getting in after advancing to the SEC Tournament semifinals, but a 13-17 SEC record will make it tough on the Gamecocks now.
If South Carolina is able to sneak into the tournament as a three-seed, Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook believes his team can make a run.
USC has battled injuries throughout the year and had its best week of the season this past week in Hoover, going 3-2 with wins over Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky.
“I feel good about our team if we’re able to keep playing. We could win a regional in a New York minute with the pitchers we have and they’re healthy now,” Holbrook said. “I don’t really think we got to show through the whole course of the season who we really were. Without (Clarke) Schmidt, without Tyler Johnson, we were hamstrung in some games. Having Tyler back this week, I think we showed we can beat anybody any day.”
If the Gamecocks do miss the NCAA Tournament, it will mark the second time in three years and will be because of missed opportunities for key series wins throughout the year.
South Carolina lost seven games when leading entering the eighth inning, including two against Clemson, one against Auburn, one against Vanderbilt and one against Florida.
“I can go back to six or seven pitches, not six or seven games, six or seven pitches when we were in position to win a series on the road,” Holbrook said. “But I know that we’re capable, and there’s no doubt in my mind if we’re put in the tournament, we can win a regional.”
NCAA Tournament: The case for and against South Carolina
The NCAA Baseball Tournament selection show is noon Monday on ESPN2.
3 reasons South Carolina gets in
1. The Gamecocks have an RPI of 31, which is seventh-best in the SEC, and have the No. 7 strength of schedule in the nation. Carolina also has 11 top 50 RPI wins and 22 top 100 RPI wins. Those numbers are tied for 21st best and 14th best in the country.
2. USC finished the season strong with an impressive performance in the SEC Tournament, knocking off RPI No. 26 Vanderbilt, No. 49 Missouri and No. 10 Kentucky, with two losses coming to the Wildcats and No. 6 LSU.
3. South Carolina has been battling injuries all season. Closer Tyler Johnson missed five weekend series and took a while to get going once he was back. Ace Clarke Schmidt made five SEC starts before being lost for the season. And position players TJ Hopkins, Chris Cullen and Madison Stokes also missed significant time.
3 reasons South Carolina is left out
1. USC dropped its final eight regular season series and its only series wins are over Tennessee and Alabama, the two worst teams in the SEC.
2. The Gamecocks finished four games under .500 in the SEC in the regular season and were seeded 11th for the SEC Tournament after winning only 13 conference games.
3. South Carolina’s best series win is over No. 62 in the RPI Tennessee. USC’s only three top 100 series wins are over the Vols, No. 70 Michigan State and No. 99 Wright State.