The Road To Omaha runs through Baton Rouge once again as LSU will, for the 26th time, host a Regional Round of the NCAA baseball tournament.
The good news from the committee is that LSU was safely in as a regional host. The NCAA now ranks the top 16 seeds instead of just the top 8 and LSU was given the #13 ranking, ahead of North Carolina, West Virginia, and defending champion Oregon St.. LSU is paired with the Athens Regional, which has UGA, CUSA champ FAU, FSU’s Fightin’ Mike Martins, and SoCon AQ Mercer. The SEC is sending 10 teams to the tourney, leading the nation once again, with Vanderbilt, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi St., and Ole Miss also hosting as national seeds. Elsewhere in Louisiana, Southern’s remarkable resurgence to the SWAC Championship was rewarded with getting to actually travel for a regional as they head to Starkville. Southland AQ McNeese is the 3 seed in the Nashville Regional.
So let’s take a (very surface level) look at the field this weekend.
Arizona State (37-17, 16-13 Pac-12, 33 RPI, 87 SOS) is a traditional western power, here as the #2 seed with at at-large bid, but I think their resume may be a bit overinflated at first glance. The Sun Devils started the year on a 21 game winning streak, but finished 5th in the P12 behind 4 other NCAA tournament teams. Against those teams (#1 overall Seed UCLA, Regional hosts Stanford and Oregon St, and at-large Cal), Arizona St went 4-7, losing or splitting all of those weekend series. Their OOC record is a bit hampered by a generally down year in the Big West, and they have losses to an awful Long Beach St team and lost a weekend series at NCAA at-large Nebraska as well.
Southern Miss (38-19, 20-10 CUSA, 45 RPI, SOS 96), Champions of the CUSA Tournament have the 3 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional. They finished 2nd in a tight CUSA regular season, behind FAU who secured an At-Large bid and ahead of La Tech, who did not. The Golden Eagles swept an impressive 5 conference weekends, but only managed to beat a few Sun Belt teams and split a series with Ole Miss in their midweek OOC games against the usual suspects of college baseball in the Gulf Coast area.
And then of course we come to the NCAA committee’s idea of a rib on LSU. #4 Seed America East Champion, the Stony Brook Seawolves (31-21, 15-9 America East, 138 RPI, 255 SOS). Stony Brook won the AE regular season where 6 of the conference’s 7 teams finished within 4 games of each other, and swept the AE tournament to get the auto-bid. There’s not much on their OOC resume beyond an opening weekend series win at FIU. They were swept in an OOC weekend series at Arkansas. As you may remember, Stony Brook is one of the few teams in NCAA history to defeat LSU in a Baton Rouge Regional when they shocked the world en route to the 2012 CWS.
Here’s the schedule for the weekend. As usual in home regionals, LSU has taken the option of playing the night game on Friday night
Friday, May 31
Game 1 – 12 p.m. - #3 seed Southern Miss vs. #2 seed Arizona State (ESPN3)
Game 2 - 6 p.m. - #4 seed Stony Brook vs. #1 seed LSU (ESPNU/ESPN3)
Saturday, June 1
Game 3 - 12 p.m. - Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser (TV TBA)
Game 4 - 6 p.m. - Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (TV TBA)
Sunday, June 2
Game 5 – 2 p.m. - Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser (TV TBA)
Game 6 – 8 p.m. - Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner (TV TBA)
Monday, June 3
Game 7 – Time TBA - Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary) – TV TBA