Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Hogs get another RPI boost
Arkansas baserunner Michael Bernal scores a run as Vanderbilt pitcher Adam Ravenelle covers the plate on a wild pitch in the fifth inning of Sunday afternoon's game at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas baseball moved up 20 more spots this week to No. 51 nationally in the NCAA's ratings performance index (RPI).
The bump comes following two wins over Vanderbilt last weekend. The Commodores are ranked No. 16 in this week's RPI, and the Razorbacks also have series wins over current RPI No. 5 South Carolina and No. 17 Alabama.
Arkansas' rank has increased 65 spots since the NCAA released its first RPI poll three weeks ago. Despite their jump, the Razorbacks still rank 11th among Southeastern Conference schools.
What is pulling Arkansas' RPI down? With less emphasis put on home wins and road losses, the answer can be found in the team's seven home losses and only three road wins.
A weaker nonconference schedule that included five combined games against Mississippi Valley State (RPI 295) and Grambling State (RPI 300) hurts Arkansas' RPI.
The Razorbacks' best out of conference wins have been against UNLV (RPI 38) and Nebraska (RPI 54). Arkansas also lost twice at home to RPI No. 125 South Alabama in March.
RPI is weighed heavily in the NCAA's postseason selection process, especially in bids for home regionals. The Razorbacks, ranked No. 24 this week by Baseball America, have a favorable schedule over the final four weeks of the regular season to play their way into a 13th straight NCAA regional, though hosting one is unlikely.
Arkansas' final four SEC series are against Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Missouri, with nonconference games against Northwestern State tonight and at Missouri State next Tuesday. Only Ole Miss (9) is ranked ahead of the Razorbacks in this week's RPI poll.