Eye on the U

Surging UM baseball now projected as NCAA at-large selection

Miami's Joe Gomez celebrates with teammates after driving in the game-winning run against Georgia Tech on Tuesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Louisville.
Miami's Joe Gomez celebrates with teammates after driving in the game-winning run against Georgia Tech on Tuesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Louisville. AP

Could the once forlorn University of Miami be closer than some think to extending that national-record, 44-year NCAA Division I Baseball tournament streak?

On Wednesday afternoon, Baseball America, which has not had the Miami Hurricanes in its projections for the upcoming field-of-64 NCAA tournament, released its penultimate projection for the NCAA field. And guess who it included?

“Miami, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi and Indiana are the last four teams in,’’ the website projected. “Miami has turned its season around after a poor start and finished 16-13 in ACC play, but at No. 47 in the RPI and with no marquee series wins, the Hurricanes will need a good showing in the ACC tournament, where they’re off to a good start.”

Baseball America projects UM (30-26) in the Stanford, California, regional as a No. 3 seed, joined by host Stanford (37-14), which Baseball America projects as the No. 8 national seed; No. 2 projected regional seed Cal State Fullerton (33-19) and No. 4 projected regional seed Bryant (29-24) as the automatic conference-winning qualifier.

Hurricanes fans, some of the most ardent in the nation, have become spoiled by the rich success of this program, which won national titles in 1982, 85, 99 and 01 — the latter two led by current coach Jim Morris and the first two, by the late Ron Fraser. But those same fans are savvy enough to know that Baseball America’s projection is nothing more than that, and that the Hurricanes must keep winning to secure an at-large berth.

If the Canes, who have won five in a row and the past two in extra innings, win their next ACC tournament game at 11 a.m. Friday against league No. 3 seed Wake Forest (38-17, 19-11 before Thursday’s noon game vs. Georgia Tech), it seems that might be enough to push UM into the NCAA as an at-large selection. Inclement weather Wednesday forced ACC officials to alter the original schedule.

“Might’’ is the key word.

A victory over Wake Forest — listed Wednesday afternoon with the No. 12 RPI — would advance the Canes into the ACC tournament semifinal. And if UM should then win the semifinal, it’s likely they’d get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

If Miami should lose to Wake, Forest, and Georgia Tech should defeat Wake on Thursday, then all three teams in UM’s ACC pool bracket would be tied at 1-1. In that case, the highest seed — the Demon Deacons — would advance to the semifinal per the league tiebreaker.

A conference tournament victory would get the Hurricanes an automatic bid into a regional.

Keep in mind, again, that everything listed above, per Baseball America, is nothing more than an educated guess. The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee meets this weekend, closely monitoring the league tournaments, to finalize their selections on Sunday and announce them on Monday.

The 16 regional hosts will be announced Sunday after all the conference tournaments are completed.

The way the Canes have been battling, nothing is out of the question.

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