ATLANTA | AUSTIN | BATON ROUGE | CLEMSON
THE SCOOP: The Jackets were king of the ACC this season, winning both the regular season and tournament titles. South Carolina started off strong and was once in line for a host position but struggled down the stretch of the season and ended up finishing third in the SEC East. Of all the Big Ten teams, Michigan has by far the most impressive resume. The Wolverines won 41 games this spring and received the conference's only at-large selection. Furman is one of the lowest rated four seeds in this year's field. The Paladins are just three games over .500 overall and finished tied for seventh in the Southern League regular season. Watching UM will be very interesting. Can the Wolves hang with the boys from the south? USC has the talent to be one of the nation's top fifteen teams, but can the Gamecocks get it together? Even if South Carolina does make a move, look for the red hot Yellow Jackets to prevail at home.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Steven Blackwood (GA Tech)
THE PREDICTION: Georgia Tech over South Carolina
THE SCOOP: Many believed the Texas Longhorns deserved a top eight national seed, but the NCAA committee disagreed. UT comes in with 45 wins on the season and a third-place Big XII finish to their credit. Arkansas comes in out of the SEC as this region's second seed. The Hogs went just 13-17 in league play but were able to sneak in the league tournament as the eight seed before being eliminated on the second day. Miami (Ohio) dominated the MAC this season, losing just four league games all year and winning the regular season title by a five-game margin. The Redhawks have won 44 games this season and are coming off the league tournament championship. Also coming off a title weekend is Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are just 26-22 overall but won the Northeast Conference title after going 17-6 in league action. You have to like the Horns in this one, but keep an eye on Miami (Ohio). If the Hawks get by UA on day one, they could be a top Cinderella candidate this spring.
THE PREDICTION: Texas over Miami (Ohio)
THE SCOOP: The Tigers are hosting a regional for the 16th consecutive season at Alex Box. Though LSU was the SEC West co-champ, the squad was only in Hoover for a couple games before being eliminated on day two. The Rice Owls are an annual powerhouse and likely were one of the last teams left out of a host spot. Rice has won 41 games this spring, 21 of those coming during their WAC title run. Northwestern State, the regular season Southland champ, was one of the final at-large teams selected. The Demons stay in-state after posting a 22-5 conference record. Marist will make its way down from Poughkeepsie, NY to Baton Rouge, LA this week as the four seed. The Red Foxes, like Northwestern State, went 22-5 in league play, won the MAAC regular season title, and then won the tournament crown as well. The Tigers are one of the country's toughest teams to beat at home, but Rice will be no pushover. And watch for the other home state team; can they make a run?
THE PREDICTION: LSU over Rice
THE SCOOP: The Tigers swept Miami to end the regular season and wound up finishing 21-9 in ACC play, good enough for second place. Clemson is one of five hosts who has yet to win their 40th game this season. College of Charleston will make the short trip to Clemson after going 27-3 and winning the Southern regular season title. The Cougars have compiled an impressive 47-13 record this spring. Oral Roberts has a history of playing well in the NCAA Regionals, and after seeing their 22-2 Mid-Continent Conference run this season, nothing but the same should be expected this year. The fourth seed is North Carolina A&T, the MEAC champion out of Greensboro, NC. The Aggies are 27-25 on the season. The Cougars are one of the best number two seeds this year's field has to offer, while the Tigers are one of the lower-level top seeds. Oral Roberts could make a run, but I expect the first and second seeds to fight it out for the title.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Kris Harvey (Clemson)
THE PREDICTION: College of Charleston over Clemson
THE SCOOP: Miami limped to the finish of the regular season but still finished in third place in the ACC. After a two-and-out performance at the league tournament, the Canes sit at 38-17-1 overall. Mississippi State, in complete opposite fashion, has finished the season with a flurry. The Bulldogs won four straight games in last week's SEC Tournament, finishing off that title run with a 4-1 victory over national seed and arch-rival Mississippi. Florida Atlantic is the third seed, and the Owls are no stranger to postseason play or the city of Miami. FAU tied for second place in a tough Atlantic Sun Conference this year and was one of the final squads to earn an at-large berth. Virginia Commonwealth finished third in the Colonial this season but put together a quality week and won the conference tournament. VCU is 33-20 overall. Assuming UM survives VCU, the Canes will have an extremely tough test on day two, whether it be MSU or FAU. Can the Canes get it together in front of a home crowd?
THE PREDICTION: Miami over Mississippi State
THE SCOOP: If there was a "huh?" regional in this year's field, Coravllis is it. Sure, the Beavers deserved the host, but Oregon State is not one of the usual suspects in NCAA baseball. OSU is the top seed in what many are calling the easiest region of this year's field. The Beavers won the PAC 10 regular season crown and are 41-9 overall. The rest of the field travels cross-country, starting with second-seeded Virginia. The Cavs finished .500 in ACC play this spring but won 41 games and advanced to the ACC Tournament title game. St. John's was everyone's northeast Cinderella this season. The Red Storm easily captured the Big East title after going 19-4 in conference play. Ohio State, the Big Ten Tournament title winner, comes in as perhaps the best four seed on the bracket. The Buckeyes went 17-12 in Big Ten play and turned it up last week to win the Big Ten Tournament title and move their record to 39-18 overall. Someone will make a statement. The question is who.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Steve Caravati (Ohio State)
THE PREDICTION: Oregon State over Virginia
THE SCOOP: Cal State-Fullerton won last year's national title and will start down the path to a second straight crown as the number one seed of their own regional. The Titans won the Big West regular season and tournament titles and are 41-15 on the year. Arizona, a squad many believe could have hosted a regional had they bid, earned the two seed after coming in second in the PAC 10. The Wildcats are 37-19 and lost just seven league games this year. Missouri finished fourth in the Big XII this season and was within one game of making the Tournament final. The Tigers are 39-21 overall. Harvard comes in as the fourth seed and the Ivy League's champion. The Crimson went 15-5 in conference play and bring in a 29-15 overall mark. CSF has to be the favorite in this one, but the 'Cats showed last year that they know how to win in June. Can they make some noise on the road?
THE PREDICTION: Cal State-Fullerton over Arizona
THE SCOOP: Florida won the overall SEC title with a 20-10 conference mark and earned the top seed in Gainesville. The Gators are 40-20 on the season and came up a game short of the Tournament final last week in Hoover. North Carolina has been one of the nation's top teams most of the year, but the Heels struggled down the stretch and finished fifth in the ACC. Though Notre Dame finished just third in the Big East, the Irish put things together last weekend and won the league tournament in New Jersey. UND has had recent postseason success, so the Irish are definitely one of the top three seeds to watch for. Stetson is another club that has had recent postseason success. The Hatters went on a monster run last week to win the conference tournament title on their home field and earn the A-Sun's automatic berth. All four squads are capable of making a run, but UF and UNC are clearly the most talented. Look for a huge Saturday showdown if the top two seeds win on Friday.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Daniel Bard (North Carolina)
THE PREDICTION: North Carolina over Florida
THE SCOOP: Tennessee is coming off a fabulous season that saw the Vols finish second in the SEC East and win 41 games so far this year. After finishing the SEC season with an 18-11 mark, UT came up a couple games short of the Tournament final. Winthrop had quite a regular season as well, going 19-5 in the Big South and finishing a game behind Coastal Carolina in the league standings. The Eagles have won 43 games this year, including several last week that earned them the league tournament title. Wichita State is a usual suspect come NCAA postseason. The Shockers went 16-8 in Missouri Valley play and finished second in that conference. WSU holds an impressive 49-22 record this year and is also coming off the MVC Tournament title. Austin Peay, 38-22 overall, stays in-state for Regional play after winning the Ohio Valley Tournament championship. The Vols don't have a lot of postseason experience and will have to contend with some other teams that do. Can they make the home fans happy?
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Daniel Carte (Winthrop)
THE PREDICTION: Winthrop over Wichita State
THE SCOOP: The Cornhuskers are again one of the top contenders to head to Omaha after tying for the Big XII regular season title and then winning the league's tournament title last weekend. NU is 51-13 on the season and lost just eight conference games this year. NC State comes in as the two seed and is 40-17 on the season. The Wolfpack finished sixth in the ACC this spring and were eliminated on day three of the ACC Tourney. Creighton is certainly familiar with Lincoln and the Huskers. The Bluejays edged out Wichita State for the MVC regular season crown and are 46-15 in 2005. Illinois-Chicago, 38-19-1, won both the regular season and tournament titles in the Horizon League this spring. If Creighton can upset the Wolfpack on day one, look for a huge showdown on Saturday. The Jays won the regular season series against NU 2-1. The third game of that matchup was played in front of over 20,000 fans, the ninth largest NCAA regular season crowd ever. How many can Hawks Field hold?
THE PREDICTION: Nebraska over Creighton
THE SCOOP: Long Beach State tied for second place in the Big West this year after finishing a couple games behind rival Cal-State Fullerton. The Dirtbags are 36-20 overall and went 14-7 in league play this spring. Southern Cal represents the PAC 10 as the two seed in Long Beach. The Trojans tied for third place in the conference and carry a 37-19 mark to the beach. Pepperdine, 38-21 on the year, heads from one beach to another as the third seed. The Waves won the West Coast's regular season title and tournament title. The fourth seed is Rhode Island, the Atlantic-10's regular season and tournament champion. The Rams are 34-19 this season and lost just a half-dozen league games all year. Looking at records alone, this is probably the most evenly-matched region. The top three seeds are all capable of coming out on top this weekend, but it's hard to not like the boys playing at home. The Trojans/Waves winner on Friday has a real shot, but look for LBSU to squeak it out.
THE PREDICTION: Long Beach State over Southern Cal
THE SCOOP: Tulane comes in as the top seed in the entire NCAA field. The Green Wave is 50-9 on the year, won the CUSA regular season title, and was playing for the league tournament title last weekend before rains brought that effort to a halt. SEC member Alabama is the Regional's second seed. The Tide once had hosting hopes but struggled to a 38-21 finish down the stretch and finished third in the SEC West. Louisiana-Lafayette is another squad that was a serious hosting contender just a few weeks ago, but the Cajuns also failed to get the job done. ULL is 47-17 on the year after winning the Sun Belt regular season crown, but the Cajuns came up short of making the tournament final. Southern University is the third Louisiana school in the Crescent City this weekend. The Jaguars won the SWAC Tournament title last week and are 29-16 on the year. Both Alabama and ULL have showed promise this year and have plenty of talent to make a run, but this one is the Wave's to lose.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Micah Owings (Tulane)
THE PREDICTION: Tulane over Louisiana-Lafayette
THE SCOOP: Mississippi is hosting a Regional for the second straight year, but the Rebels are hoping for more success than their two-and-out showing in 2004. UM is coming off a SEC West co-championship and an appearance in the SEC Tournament title game. Southern Miss, who has already faced UM three times this year, will represent CUSA as the two seed. The Golden Eagles dropped two of three to the Rebels earlier this season but bring in a 41-19 record after finishing tied for second in the CUSA regular season standings. Oklahoma was one of the final major conference schools to receive a bid this spring. The Sooners finished a game over .500 in Big XII play and are just 33-24 on the season. Maine heads down south for the Oxford Regional after earning the America East's automatic bid. The Black Bears were 14-7 in league play and are 34-17 overall. Like those regionals in New Orleans, Long Beach, and Clemson, this one has a great shot to come down to two in-state teams on Sunday and/or Monday.
THE PREDICTION: Mississippi over Southern Miss
THE SCOOP: Florida State is one of only three teams who boasts 50 wins this season. The Seminoles, though, finished fourth in the ACC and came up a couple games short of the Tournament final in Jacksonville last week. Second-seeded Auburn was a bubble team according to most projections. The Tigers failed to make the SEC Tournament with a 13-17 league record, but a 32-24 overall mark was enough to get them in. South Alabama, 32-25 on the year, is the third seed. The Jags finished second in the regular season Sun Belt standings but pulled themselves off the bubble by winning the league tournament last weekend. Army makes the trip down south as the fourth seed. The Golden Knights are 38-12 on the year and were easily the Patriot League's best team this spring, winning the regular season title by a five-game margin. Getting by Army will be no easy task for Florida State, but if the Seminoles do make winner's bracket play on Saturday, they should be in good shape for the weekend.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Ryne Malone (Florida State)
THE PREDICTION: Florida State over Auburn
THE SCOOP: Coastal Carolina will make the cross-country trip as the field's only number one seed who is not hosting. The Chanticleers beat out Winthrop for the Big South regular season title, went 21-3 in league play, and are 48-14 overall. Host Arizona State is 34-22 overall and seeded second. The Sun Devils tied for third in the PAC 10 this spring and were a surprise host selection last Sunday. East Carolina also makes the long haul out to Tempe. The Pirates are the three seed after finishing fourth in CUSA this season. ECU went 18-12 in conference play and is 35-24 overall. UNLV, the Mountain West's regular season and tournament champion, will hold down the fourth slot in Tempe. The Rebels went 23-7 in league play this year and bring in a 34-27 overall mark. UNLV is a fairly strong four seed, but the two and three seeds are nothing too glamarous. Many agree that ASU was given a host spot only as a reward to West baseball in general. This one is CCU's for the taking.
THE PREDICTION: Coastal Carolina over Arizona State
THE SCOOP: Baylor tied for the Big XII's regular season title this year and then came up just short in the tournament title game against Nebraska. The Bears are 39-21 overall heading into this weekend's activity. TCU finished one spot behind Tulane in the CUSA regular season standings and was set to take on the Wave for the tournament championship before rain halted that event. The Frogs, who are 40-18 overall, stay in-state for postseason play. Stanford ventures out from PAC 10 country as the three seed. The Cardinal went just 12-12 in conference play, but a 32-23 overall mark was enough to get them in. Texas-San Antonio also stays close to home this weekend. The Roadrunners, 27-32, are the only squad in this year's field with a losing record. UTSA finished fourth in the Southland but got hot last week and won the league's automatic bid. With the three and four seeds appearning relatively week, this one is a Bear/Frog, Texas-style shootout to the end.
THE ONE ON ONE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER: Shelby Ford (TCU)
THE PREDICTION: Baylor over TCU
If the Regional winners projected by SCS.com do come out on top, this is how the Super Regionals would be paired:
LSU at (1) Tulane
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