This time last year, Tennessee baseball had clinched the SEC Regular Season Championship and was headed towards a tournament championship.
Now, the Vols are a lock for the postseason, but where they are headed is up in the air. The 2022 Vols knew that their first two weekends would be in Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The 2023 Vols are likely preparing for a road trip.
Unlike 2022, the field is a lot deeper in 2023. Nine teams are vying to host regionals, and the field below them is still very deep. The Texas A&M team that beat Tennessee in the SEC Tournament opener may end up as a 3-seed in the tournament.
In what will be a deep NCAA Tournament by the number of good teams, the Vols will be right in the middle of it.
Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball projected that Tennessee baseball would need a series win at South Carolina and at least one win in Hoover to be in the conversation to host a regional. The Vols went to Columbia and got a series victory, but the win in the SEC Tournament did not come about.
After the loss, Rogers took to Twitter to give his outlook on Tennessee’s chances.
“With the loss, (Tennessee baseball) drops four spots in the RPI to 20, and would need a ton of help to be a host at this point,” he writes. “I would not expect a Regional in Knoxville.”
The loss dropped Tennessee’s RPI to 20. The committee usually factors in RPI heavily in the postseason seeding. Usually, being in the upper teens or 20 in RPI is not that big of a deal, but this year is unique.
The SEC is vying for almost eight other teams fighting to host regionals. At 16-14 in the conference and a high RPI, the Vols are the odd team looking out.
Ahead of the SEC Tournament, D1Baseball projected that Tennessee could end up as the No. 2 seed in Miami’s regional.
In their projection, Miami would be the 11-seed and the Coral Gables regional would pair up with Clemson.
Baseball America holds Tennessee as the top 2-seed, putting the Vols in the No. 16 seed Indiana State regional. The winner of said Terra Haute regional would travel to the No. 1 seed Wake Forest in this projection.
Aside from the two projections, it is safe to assume that the committee would want to keep Tennessee close to home. Other regional sites that have been discussed for the Vols would be Coastal Carolina, Virginia or West Virginia.
As conference tournaments roll on, a lot can change in seeding projections.