Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

April 25, 2012

Oklahoma State baseball needs push into postseason

STILLWATER, Okla. — It’s not a banner year for Big 12 Conference baseball.

The league usually sends at least six teams into the 64-team bracket. It has done so five of the past six years. In the 2011 season, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State reached the tournament.

The league is primed to send four, maybe five teams to the NCAAs with about a month left in the Big 12 season, including the conference tournament.

Baylor (35-8, 18-0 Big 12), Texas (24-14, 11-4 Big 12) and Texas A&M (24-14, 9-6 Big 12) should be locks for the NCAA tournament barring a complete collapse.

Oklahoma (26-15, 7-8 Big 12) and Oklahoma State (23-17, 8-7 Big 12) must be considered bubble teams. One will make the tournament, the other will be out.

“Five, maybe, at the most because our conference RPI is not very good this year,” Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson said. “Normally, we are a two or three RPI conference. Our RPI hasn’t been as good as it has been.”

The OSU coach is right. You can’t just go by records. The power ratings help reveal the big picture.

The 12-team Southeastern Conference and 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference are rated Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference power rankings released Sunday.

The Big 12 is a distant fourth.

The SEC score is 661.17. The ACC is 650.20. The third-rated Pac 12 score is 634.89, and the Big 12 is 600.05.

Individually, four SEC schools have top 10 RPIs, and the conference places six in the top 20.

Only Baylor and Texas A&M have top 20 RPIs for the Big 12. Baylor is No. 4, while Texas A&M is No 18. Texas checks in at 45 and Oklahoma at 55.

It’s a huge drop to Texas Tech (91), Missouri (96), Oklahoma State (122), Kansas State (126) and Kansas (167).

Florida (31-9) holds the top RPI, while Coppin State (0-38) is ranked 297 — last in Division I.

Oklahoma State’s RPI jumped from 174 to 122 in a week because of four-game winning streak. It could creep into the low 90s after Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Oklahoma if OSU can sweep or take two of three this weekend at Kansas State (19-22, 3-12 Big 12).

“You need to finish in the top four or five in the conference to have a chance or win the tournament,” Anderson said.

OSU’s goal is to win every game, Poke outfielder Trey Whaley said. The Cowboys are 20-3 overall and 6-0 in conference play at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, but 3-14 and 2-7 in the Big 12 in road games. The Pokes have a chance to improve their road record against K-State. The Wildcats are 1-5 at home against Big 12 foes.

“We’ve got to do well in the next three series,” Whaley said.

Chris Day is the sports editor of the Stillwater NewsPress.

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