Updated: Dec 2, 2020
With baseball teams returning to campus, it is time to begin preparation for College Baseball Nation's Way-Too-Early Top 25. While it is unclear which schools will allow players to return for fall practice, several schools across the country (including Mississippi State, Duke, and TCU) have already begun on-campus team meetings.
In a normal season, preseason rankings are difficult enough to compile, but the 2021 season provides additional challenges. Many rosters will be overloaded with talent as all players were given an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19-induced cancellation of the 2020 season. However, in the midst of this, a shortened MLB Draft and subsequent free agent signing period saw the top talents in college baseball move on to professional baseball. We attempted to quantify which teams lost and gained the most talent in the offseason.
With that in mind, the list of teams under consideration for College Baseball Nation's Top 25 is larger than ever. From the 302 teams in division I baseball, we have pared the list down to the top quarter. Here are the 76 teams we think will compete at the top of college baseball in 2021.
All 14 SEC squads are on the watch list as well as eight of nine Big XII teams and 11 of 14 ACC teams. The Big West is well-represented with five of its 11 teams present.
Be on the lookout for College Baseball Nation's Way-Too-Early Top 25 where we will further trim down the list by two-thirds. The list will be released later this week.
A wide range of factors could influence the Top 25 between now and the beginning of the college baseball season. Though many conferences, including the Big Ten and Pac-12, have suspended fall athletic competitions, the current expectation is that spring sports will be allowed to practice. If this changes, there will be a clear advantage to teams who are able to practice in the fall.
Additionally, players opting out of the season could have a substantial impact on the rankings. Because of the ever-changing collegiate athletic landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be presumptuous to predict whether or not players will opt out. With college baseball season still several months out, no players have announced an intent to opt out.