June 10, 2016
Before the Super Regionals begin in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, let’s take a look back at the regionals played last weekend. Those were played out to trim the field down from 64 teams to the current 16 teams.
When the field was announced, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference received a just over a quarter of the bids in this year’s tournament. Combined, both conferences placed 17 teams in the regionals.
Know this, it should come as no surprise that these two conferences placed just over half the field in the Super Regionals. Nine teams from the ACC and SEC reached the second round of the tournament.
The ACC placed 10 teams into the field. Four of those reached the Super Regionals and seven of the 10 reached regional finals. At the end of the first weekend the ACC had a 21-12 record.
Every ACC team, but Duke University, in the tournament won at least one game at the regional stage. All four teams, University of Louisville, Florida State University, Boston College and the University of Miami (Fla.), that advanced from the conference went undefeated in regional play.
Duke went 0-2 in regional play, joined by Wake Forest University (1-2) and the University of Virginia (1-2) with losing records in regional play. North Carolina State (3-2), Clemson University (2-2), and Georgia Institute of Technology (2-2) finished at or above .500 in the opening round.
The ACC was considered by many to be the best baseball conference in the nation. Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Boston College all finished with losing records. All were bounced in regional play except for BC who won its regional after the host team (more on this later) flamed out.
NC State and Clemson finished just two games above .500 in conference play. Excluding BC, the other three teams that reached a Super Regional were three of the top four teams in the conference, with Virginia, which went 19-10 in the ACC missing the regional. Louisville (22-8), FSU (16-10) and Miami (21-7) were no brainers for getting into the tournament.
Clemson was the No. 7 national seed and was the only national seed not to advance to a Super Regional. At best, only three ACC teams reach the 2016 College World Series, since BC and Miami must face each other.
Does this mean the ACC was overrated? Perhaps slightly, but Virginia, NC State and Clemson all reached the regional final before bowing out of the tournament. The Wolfpack of NC State even forced a deciding game in their regional.
The SEC placed seven teams into regionals and went 16-6 in the opening round. Five of the seven went on to reach a Super Regional. Both SEC teams that failed to advance in the tournament lost their first two games, getting eliminated.
The University of Mississippi and Vanderbilt University both went 0-2 on their way out. It is kind of understandable that Vanderbilt hit the skids after losing a teammate to drowning just before regional play started.
It is harder to understand how the University of Mississippi went winless. The Oxford Regional had BC which finished the season with a 13-15 ACC record, the University of Utah which finished with a losing overall record at 26-29 but won the Pac-12, and Tulane University, which won the regular season title in the American Athletic Conference.
The Rebels lost their first game to Utah in an extra inning and lost to Tulane in the ninth inning. Both the Commodores and Rebels finished the SEC with 18-12 records in conference play.
Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University and the University of Florida all went undefeated in regional play. Louisiana State University had to win an elimination game in the regional after Rice University took the first game.
The University of South Carolina was the only team to lose its opening game of a regional and come back to reach a Super Regional. The team became just the 20th team since the current format started in 1999 to lose its opening game in a regional but come back to reach the Super Regional.
Vanderbilt and the University of Mississippi had four of the six losses by the SEC in regional play. Only the Big 12 had a better winning percentage to start the tournament.
Speaking of the Big 12, that conference got three teams into the tournament and heading into the second round, all three are still playing. Texas Tech University, Texas Christian University and Oklahoma State University all won their regionals.
Teams from the Big 12 went a stellar 9-1 in regional play. Texas Tech had to come back and defeat Dallas Baptist University in an elimination game in the regional final.
Conference USA and the Pac-12 each put four teams in the tournament. But of those eight teams only the University of Arizona reached a Super Regional.
The AAC, Big Ten and the Big West all put three teams in regionals and only two of the nine teams, East Carolina University and the University of California Santa Barbara, reached the next round.
Coastal Carolina University might be the biggest Super Regional crasher. The Catamounts beat host NC State twice, reaching the Super Regionals.
Here are the matchups in the Super Regionals:
Florida State at Florida
Coastal Carolina at LSU
TCU at Texas A&M
East Carolina at Texas Tech
Boston College at Miami (Fla)
UC Santa Barbara at Louisville
Arizona at Mississippi State
All the regional games will be on the ESPN family of networks, but mainly on ESPNU and ESPN2 for the first game of each regional. The eight winners of the Super Regionals advance to the College World Series.