Omaha, Neb. – Arkansas was rewarded on Monday for its dominant performance in the NCAA Baseball Tournament through the No. 1 nationally seeded Southeast Conference.
The Razorbacks (46-10) won all 10 of their SEC series and finished their first conference tournament championship on Sunday. After losing three consecutive games in March, the Hogs never lost consecutive games.
This is the third consecutive tournament in which Arkansas has been the top eight national seed.
“It’s still really special to sit there and see your name,” coach Dave Van Horn said after the team gathered to watch the selection show. “Such good weather up to this point.”
The 64-team tournament opens on Friday in 16 regionals. The winners advance to the eight best three super regionals. Those winners go to the College World Series in Omaha.
The top eight national seeds are assured of hosting the Super Regional if they win their regionals.
National seeds followed by Arkansas: Texas (42–15), Tennessee (45–16), Vanderbilt (40–15), Arizona (40–15), TCU (40–17), Mississippi State (40–15) and Texas Tech.
2 in 2010, and the event would mark its NCAA-best 60th appearance in the tournament.
Tennessee, at number 3, is hosting a regional for the first time since 2005, the year the volunteers last advanced to the CWS. There was a more relaxed atmosphere around the team on Monday than in 2019, when Walls barely made it to the tournament with a losing SEC record.
Coach Tony Vitello said, “People are playing a hacky sack two minutes before (the selection show) starts.” “In fact, after 30 minutes of the show or when we knew who we were going to play in Game 1, they were ready to move on.”
Vanderbilt is making an SEC-best 15th straight tournament appearance, heading for its third national championship since 2014 after winning the title two years earlier. There was no tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeds nine to 16 are Stanford (33–14), Notre Dame (30–11), Old Dominion (42–14), Mississippi (41–19), East Carolina (41–15), Oregon (37–14). . Florida (38–20) and Louisiana Tech (40–18).
The SEC leads all conferences with nine teams in the field, followed by the ACC (8), Pac-12 (6), Big 12 and Conference USA (4) and Big Ten (3).
The final four teams selected were Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina and UC Santa Barbara. The first four were Baylor, Pittsburgh, Georgia and Ball State.
Baylor will be first in line to replace any team that cannot play their regionals due to a failure to clear COVID-19 testing protocols.
Stetson Athletic Director Jeff Altier, chairman of the Division I Baseball Committee, said the different scheduling strategies due to the pandemic have made the task of selecting the big teams extremely difficult.
Altier said that the opinion of regional advisory committees is heavy in decision making. Typically the RPI, or rating percentage index, helps the committee understand the teams’ comparative strengths, but it was not as useful this year because many conferences did not play outside their league.
“It was an incredibly difficult year,” Altair said. “Nobody experienced COVID before. We view RPi as a tremendous metric to help with evaluation, and in a year where you can’t play normally at all conferences, it becomes difficult to choose.
Other notes about the tournament:
– Old Dominion (42-14) is the top seed in the regional organized by South Carolina. Gamecock is number 2. Old Dominion did not submit a bid for hosting.
– Florida State (30-22) has the longest active streak in the tournament at 43.
– Big Ten regular-season champion Nebraska’s presence at the Arkansas Regional makes it one of the top early stories. Razorbacks coach Van Horn led the Cornhuskers in their first two CWS appearances in 2001–02, and current Nebraska coach Will Bolt was a middle fielder and captain on those teams.
– The Presbyterian will face his former coach at Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin. The school gave Corbyn his first head coaching job (1988–93).
– Fairfield (37-3) became the first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team to earn a major bid. The Stags won 28 straight to open the season and finished the regular season 35–1. His .925 winning percentage is the highest in Division I history.
– Has the longest active winning streak at 21 games at VCU (37-14).
– Jacksonville (16-32) has the worst record in the region. The Dolphins went 3–15 in the ASUN Conference before winning the league tournament.
More AP College World Series coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/college-world-series