Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Hogs rank 50th in latest RPI
Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher flies out to end the game during the 10th inning against Texas A&M Sunday, May 11, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas baseball moved up four spots to No. 50 in the latest NCAA ratings performance index (RPI) for baseball.
The Razorbacks won two of three games against Texas A&M last weekend to improve to 32-21 overall and 13-14 in SEC games. The Aggies dropped three spots to No. 35 in the latest RPI rankings.
The No. 50 ranking is the highest this season for the Razorbacks, who were No. 116 in the NCAA's first RPI rankings released April 1.
Hogs in RPI
April 1: 116 NCAA, 14 SEC
Following 3-0 midweek vs. Mississippi Valley State and 1-2 weekend at Mississippi State
April 8: 85 NCAA, 13 SEC
Following 1-1 midweek vs. Nebraska and 2-1 weekend vs. South Carolina
April 15: 71 NCAA, 13 SEC
Following 1-1 midweek vs. UNLV and 1-2 weekend at LSU
April 22: 51 NCAA, 11 SEC
Following 1-0 midweek vs. Stephen F. Austin and 2-1 weekend vs. Vanderbilt
April 29: 59 NCAA, 12 SEC
Following 2-0 midweek vs. Northwestern State and 1-2 weekend vs. Auburn
May 6: 54 NCAA, 12 SEC
Following 1-0 midweek at Missouri State and 1-2 weekend at Ole Miss
May 13: 50 NCAA, 12 SEC
Following 2-1 weekend vs. Texas A&M
Missouri is Arkansas' final regular season opponent with the two teams scheduled to begin a three-game series Thursday in Columbia, Mo. The Tigers (20-30, 6-21 SEC) are the only SEC team mathematically eliminated from next week's conference tournament, while the Razorbacks need one win this week to assure a berth in the SEC tournament.
"We need to take care of what we need to take care of," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "If we play well, we've got a chance to win. If we don't, we won't. Then we'll move over to the tournament, and it's probably going to be a one-game situation. We need to win that game.
"You know, it's that time of the year that if you stay focused and you play hard, it can be a real fun time of the season."
Arkansas' series win over Texas A&M is its fourth against a quality opponent this season. The Razorbacks also have series wins against current RPI Nos. 7 Vanderbilt, 12 South Carolina and 21 Alabama, though none have been on the road.
Series losses to RPI Nos. 137 South Alabama and 68 Auburn at home continue to hurt Arkansas in the RPI, as do five nonconference games played against Grambling and Mississippi Valley State, who rank among the four worst teams in the latest RPI rankings.
Home wins and road losses are devalued in the NCAA's RPI formula, while more emphasis is put on road wins and home losses. The Razorbacks have yet to win a road series this season, going 1-2 in each series at Florida, Mississippi State, LSU and Ole Miss.
"I feel like we've had a rough season on the road, but maybe we need to play like this is going to be our last game, like we're not going to go to the SECs," pitcher Trey Killian said. "We need to compete and I feel we're going to be all right."
Arkansas is ranked 12th among SEC teams in the latest RPI. Some analysts predict the SEC could receive as many as 10 invitations to play in NCAA regionals.