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Boston College Baseball: Eagles Deserve Bid To National Tournament

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In 2016, BC ranked as one of the best in beating the best.

Courtesy BC Athletics

Since college sports expansion really started, the SEC has always been the nation's best college baseball program. After the ACC expanded by a factor of two in time for the 2006 season, the SEC still managed to win more national championships, picking up four titles, including three in a row and two straight for South Carolina. It began catching up to the Pac-10/Pac-12 in terms of trophies, and it seemed like there was a virtual stranglehold on the amount of bids it would receive into the national tournament.

Since 2007, no league has gained more bids to the NCAA Tournament than the SEC. With the exception of a lone year here or there where the ACC or Big 12 equaled the amount of bids that the SEC had to the tournament, that '07 season was the last time a national conference had more bids.

That stands to change this season. Most major publications have the ACC as a 10-bid league this year with some prognosticators hypothesizing if it's possible for an 11th team in North Carolina, even if they didn't make the conference tournament. It stands to reason that the league's performance outside of the conference has made it the preeminent power conference in baseball, something that began with last year's national championship run by Virginia.

If college baseball people are talking about the ACC as a 10-bid league, Boston College is right in the middle of the discussion. The Eagles finished eighth in the league thanks to their season-ending victory over Georgia Tech, and although they lost in a first round elimination game, they still have an incredibly strong case for the national tournament.

When the regular season ended, BC finished tied with Clemson, Florida State, and NC State with six series victories. They finished just behind Virginia and Louisville, who each had seven series victories, and Miami, who had nine series victories and could very likely be the #1 overall seed in the national tournament.

Nobody is going to mistake the Eagles for a regional host in this year's tournament, but that's a compelling case to be made to make BC a lock for the field of 64. Of their six series victories this year, Florida State won one one-game wins over NC State and Boston College. It stands to reason that they'd probably have won more, but there's no way to know that for sure, especially with the way NC State played down the stretch (playing themselves into a hosting a regional) or the fact that BC really wasn't that bad of a team.

There's no way the committee can take a team like Georgia Tech, who defeated the Eagles in the ACC Tournament, and justify the larger body of work explanation. The Yellow Jackets backdoored into the ACC Tournament, beat BC in a single elimination game, and promptly lost two in a row by a combined 10-1 score. This year, GT only won three regular season series, along with one split with Pittsburgh - who didn't make the ACC Tournament field.

Remove BC's struggles early in the year for a second. After the NC State series, they crashed back to earth with losses to Clemson and Pittsburgh, losing five of their next seven games. After the FSU snow series, BC was 3-7 in league play. After losing to Notre Dame, they 5-11. They proceeded to lose four games in conference play the rest of the year, one of the hottest finishers in the best conference in the nation.

Those wins are offset by a weak non-conference schedule, and while that's true, consider the competition the Eagles had to play against. Teams typically schedule midweek games against more local competition to cut down on travel during the school year. They have to be able to travel in one day, play the games, then get home.

For other schools, that opens up a wealth of non-conference possibilities. Georgia Tech, for example, had three games scheduled over the course of the year with Georgia, winning one. Florida State played midweek games with Central Florida and Florida, then scheduled midweek games with Texas Tech after they lost a number of games to the weather. Travel between some of those schools and the area is substantially shorter and easier.

For BC, it's easy to fill a non-conference schedule because of the number of local teams available, but it also waters down the schedule. The Eagles had two decent midweek game opponents this year (Connecticut and Bryant), though they lost them both. The rest of the games scheduled against teams like Maine, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Northeastern - all teams that compete hard but aren't on the same caliber as midmajor baseball schools like Stetson.

They did defeat Rhode Island, who is a tournament-bound team, but the Rams come out of the A-10, which is a one-bid league. And for what it's worth, both Bryant and UConn could've been at-large teams had they not won their leagues, and anyone who follows New England college baseball would love to see weekend staffs at a place like BC match up with those teams. On top of all of that, BC beat Ohio State, who is the Big Ten champion, 6-2.

So if the committee wants to consider strength of schedule, they have to consider what's available. BC can't entertain a team like Texas Tech for two games in the middle of the week, which takes away the chance for premium victories except within the ACC - where they've succeeded. A team like North Carolina can open up the season on fire and earn a top 15 RPI ranking, but when they only win four league series, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

BC had a dip in the middle of the season where they were figuring out who they were going to become as a team. They did it in the nation's best conference. Once they figured out who they were as a team, they dominated opponents, including a number of teams serving as regional hosts.

Call me a homer if you want, but the committee needs to do the right thing. They need to put the Eagles in the tournament.