The South shall rise again. In college baseball, it already has.
To no one’s surprise, the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference are sending a large percentage of the teams to this year’s NCAA Baseball Tournament. One day after the selection committee announced seven of the eight national seeds are members of those conferences, the remaining eight regional hosts, and the entire tournament field was announced Monday.
Of the 16 schools hosting regionals, 13 belong to the two powerhouse conferences. As announced on Sunday, the Florida Gators are the top national seed while Miami earned the number three seed. There is no regional host located west of the state of Texas, nor north of Louisville.
After a lackluster end to the regular season, Florida State’s runner-up finish in the ACC Tournament helped the Seminoles also secure a place among regional hosts. Three other Florida schools earned spots in the 64-team field; Stetson, Bethune-Cookman, and Florida Atlantic.
The SEC established a record by earning four of the tournament’s top eight seeds. Joining the Gators is No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 6 Mississippi State, and No. 8 LSU.
They also sent seven teams into the tournament with all seven hosting regionals. The ACC led everyone by having nine teams qualify, including three of the top eight seeds (Louisville, Miami and Clemson).
Somehow, North Carolina did not become the 10th ACC team to earn a bid. The Tar Heels were ranked No. 22 and carried a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ranking of 19, but that was somehow not good enough.
For the second straight year, the Tallahassee region is paired with the Gainesville region. The Gators swept FSU out of last year’s tournament on their way to the College World Series.
Also for the second straight year, Florida will open the tournament against the MEAC champion, in this case, Bethune-Cookman. Last year they helped make Florida A&M’s stay in the tournament a brief one. Miami begins tournament play against Stetson.
The tournament begins on Friday.