Is Indiana the next Rutgers?

In 2022, the Scarlet Knights were runners-up in the B1G Baseball regular season and tournament, won 45 games, had a top-45 RPI, and were left home. Is this the 2023 Hoosiers fate?

By Carl James @jovian34 May 15th, 2023

photo of Rutgers vs Indiana (2022 B1G Tourney semi-final) by Carl James – taken May 29th, 2022, at 12:36am CDT at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska

In my initial schedule analysis in the winter, I said, “I figure the win total to qualify for Indiana in 2023 should be at least 37 (allowing for 18 losses).” The Hoosiers have already surpassed 37 wins, and the strength of schedule is holding up as well. Now that was for a target RPI of 45. Last year Rutgers had an RPI rank of 43rd and was denied a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Many looked on the snub as a message to the Big Ten (B1G) to get with the rest of the Power-5 programs in baseball after the 2021 conference-only season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have tried, with little to no success, to reassure folks that Indiana 2023 is not Rutgers 2022. Now I do not know what is in the hearts and minds of the Committee members, but I do know how to evaluate an NCAA resume. In fact I have laid them out side-by-side below for comparison.

TeamRutgers ’22#iubase ’23
Best Series Win90 UNCW 2-030 Iowa 2-1
Worst Series Loss213 Omaha49 Maryland
Best Win13 Maryland13 Indiana State
Worst Loss286 Princeton127 Penn State
NC SOS24177

When I came to write this, even I was surprised at how bad Rutger’s resume was. A loss to Princeton. A series loss to Omaha. My only thought last year was, “How can an upstart 45-win team from a Power-5 conference be denied in favor of a team with a losing record in their own conference?” Reading this resume with more dispassionate perspective, it’s a little easier to swallow now. Oh… and that team that got in instead of Rutgers… that was eventual 2022 College World Series Champion Ole Miss.

Look at the detailed metrics. Only one Quad-1 win to Indiana’s six. The non-conference strength-of-schedule (NC SOS) for Rutgers was 150th, while Indiana is 77th (and it should improve a hair with Evansville after tomorrow). The only key metric Rutgers excelled in was road record, but Indiana is still good in this, including road wins over Auburn, Texas, and Xavier.

Even a poor showing down the stretch (which I would not project) won’t change this resume by much. Indiana is in very good shape for an at-large berth. Now would I like some “insurance runs” to seal the deal? Yes I would. However, I have no real fear that a Rutgers-style slight would happen two weeks from today.