The NCAA baseball selection committee announced the 16 regional seeds for the 2012 Division-I baseball tournament Sunday night. The hosting list reads of a who’s who in college baseball.
The ACC came out looking like winners in the eyes of the NCAA after five teams were named regional hosts-Florida State, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina State.
The Pac-12 had the second most regional hosts (four) with Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon.
Normally a power in the college baseball post season, the Big 12 only placed two schools, Baylor and Texas A&M, among the top 16 teams. The Big Ten added one, Purdue.
The biggest surprise came with the handling of the SEC. After having South Carolina, LSU, Florida, Arkansas, and Kentucky in the top 10 of all major polls for most of the season, only three schools were awarded top seeds.
Of the 16 teams hosting regional matchups this year, 8 of those squads hosted a regional in 2011. Included among the teams hosting is the 2010 and 2011 NCAA National Champions South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks will host a regional for the third year in a row and for the 14th time in school history (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012).
LSU (43-16) has been selected for the 20th time in school history to host a regional; third most among teams hosting in 2012 behind Florida State (29) and Miami (24).
The Tigers won the 2012 SEC regular season title for the 15th time in school history but lost twice to SEC West rival Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament.
The third SEC team to host a regional in this year’s tournament is University of Florida.
The Gators (42-18) are hosting for the fourth year in a row under fifth year head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and 10th time in school history.
The Gators have advanced to the Super Regional round five of the last eight seasons and appear to have the pitching staff along with balanced hitting to make another run to Omaha.
In 2011 Florida advanced to the College World Series after beating Mississippi State in their Super Regional and then lost in the NCAA title game to SEC East rival South Carolina.
Missing from the list of host in 2012 is University of Kentucky.
The Wildcats (41-15) were in contention for the SEC overall regular season title and SEC East divisional title entering the last week of regular season play. The Wildcats were swept in three games by the eventual SEC Tournament Champion Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Despite being in the top 10 and top 5 of most of the season and ranked as high as No. 1 and ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball last week, currently No. 13 after the loss to MSU, UK will more than likely earn a No. 2 seed come Monday morning.
The Wildcats have been on a steady decline over the last four weekends of the regular season. Winners of only one SEC weekend against Alabama in their last four weekend series, the Wildcats lost series to SEC Tournament runner-up Vanderbilt, No. 4 Florida, and No. 21 Mississippi State.
Before judging the Wildcats for losing to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, both teams have been the hottest teams in the nation and the SEC over the past month. No coincidence that the Bulldogs and Commodores are finally healthy, Kentucky just had the misfortune of playing them right when they were getting hot.
Vanderbilt is not on Collegiate Baseball’s rankings or Baseball America’s, but wait another day, the ‘Dores should finally be ranked within the top 20 of both polls.
The lone school not in a power conference to host is Rice University.
Rice (40-17) is a member of Conference USA and won the NCAA Championship in 2003, the school’s only national championship.
Looking a step further at the complexity of the NCAA’s decisions to decide which teams will host a regional and which teams will not, all one has to do is look down the list of the college baseball RPI Rankings.
It appears that the selection committee went right down the line of the RPI Rankings to determine who gets what.
College Baseball RPI Rankings:
No. 1 Florida
No. 2 Florida State
No. 3 UCLA
No. 4 Baylor
No. 5 Oregon
No. 6 North Carolina
No. 7 LSU
No. 8 Texas A&M
No. 9 South Carolina
No. 10 North Carolina State
No. 11 Rice
No. 12 Stanford
No. 13 Miami
No. 14 Virgina
No. 15 Purdue
No. 16 Arkansas
No. 17 Arizona
No. 18 Arizona State
No. 19 Kentucky
No. 20 Cal State Fullerton
*RPI Rankings as of May 21
One can understand skipping Arkansas as a regional host. The Hogs finished the season 39-19, 16-14 in the SEC, and went 0-2 in the SEC Tournament. But skipping Kentucky is a slight that is too hard to swallow. Last week the Wildcats RPI Ranking was No. 10. Is there shame to losing games on the road to the SEC Tournament Champions?
Purdue’s selection as a regional host seems like more of a favor to the Big Ten than something actually deserved on the field.
The Boilermakers (44-12, 17-7) have the win-loss record to be in consideration, they won the Big Ten regular season and post season tournament, but the only quality win for Purdue all season is a Sunday win over UCLA. That’s it, just one road win over UCLA.
Purdue split a four-game series with Wichita State, too bad this is not the mid-1990’s, and lost their last conference series to Iowa (23-27, 10-14).
The Boilermakers cannot control how well the other teams on their schedule play or fair for the rest of the season once they have played them, but they can control who they schedule and the NCAA selection committee should look beyond power conference wins. After all Louisville was not floated out of the Big East after posting a 39-19 overall record and tying for a share of the conference regular season title with St. John’s by posting a mark of 18-9.
The entire 64-team field will be announced at 11:00 a.m. CST Monday on ESPNU.
The announcement of the top-eight teams will be announced June 4 on www.ncaa.com. The top eight team will earn the right to host a Super Regional should said team advance.
The NCAA moved to the Super Regional format in 1999.
2012 Divisional Hosting Sites:
Baton Rouge, La. — LSU (43-16)
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina (44-14)
Charlottesville, Va. — Virginia (38-17)
College Station, Texas — Texas A&M (42-16)
Columbia, S.C. — South Carolina (40-17)
Coral Gables, Fla. — *Miami (Fla.) (36-20)
Eugene, Ore. — *Oregon (42-16)
Gainesville, Fla. – Florida (42-18)
Gary, Ind. — Purdue (44-12)
Houston, Texas — Rice (40-17)
Los Angeles, Calif. — *UCLA (41-14)
Palo Alto, Calif. — *Stanford (37-16)
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State (39-17)
Tallahassee, Fla. — Florida State (43-15)
Tucson, Ariz. — *Arizona (37-17)
Waco, Texas — Baylor (44-14)
*Teams that are playing Sunday
Topics: 2012 College Baseball Regional Hosts, Arizona, Arkansas Razorbacks, College Baseball, College World Series, Florida Gators, Florida State, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Oregon, Purdue, Rice, Road To Omaha, SEC Baseball, Stanford, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia