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March 30, 2006

SCS.comSince the Super Regional concept was instituted in 1999, eighty-five percent of the teams that hosted the Super Regional series have advanced to Omaha. The postseason crowds are always one-sided since the host team has the advantage of having an on-campus site. College baseball is unique from football and basketball; those postseason events are held at neutral sites, and the crowds are usually not as one-sided.

If you really want to go to Omaha, then now is the time for a team to prove themselves. The selection committee puts more credence on regular season performance than conference tournament performance. If the NCAA Tournament stared today, the eight teams that I see as the national seeds include the following.

1. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are 21-1 on the year and are ranked #1 in the country. This team has pitching, coaching, defense, and hitting. They have few weakness and many strengths. The Dawgs are fresh off a series win at Baton Rouge, and this week they travel to Alabama. The Dawgs will sweep the Tide and remain atop the rankings. The stretch that will make or break State will be a three-week stretch later this season when they face Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina in consecutive weeks. MSU will win the SEC unless they beat themselves. The Dawgs should garner the #1 national seed.

2. Florida State

The Seminoles are off to a red hot 8-1 start in the ACC, and they travel to Chapel Hill this weekend to face the overrated Tar Heels. Florida State will go into Chapel Hill and win two of three this weekend and distance themselves from North Carolina in the ACC standings. Coach Mike Martin has one of his best teams in years, and they will be a tough out in the postseason.

3. South Carolina

The Gamecocks were supposed to be in the middle of a rebuilding year, but thus far they are hitting on all cylinders. Fresh off a sweep over national runner-up Florida, the 'Cocks are showing the country that they are for real. Carolina will go into Baton Rouge this weekend and beat LSU two out of three and hand the Tigers their second straight home series loss. If USC does indeed win this series, they will be 7-2 in the SEC and sitting well through three weeks.

4. Nebraska

The Huskers will win the Big XII this year and garner a Super Regional at Haymaker Park. Nebraska has been to 3 of the past 5 College World Series, and if they can claim a national seed, they will make it 4 of 6. The Huskers should sweep K-State this weekend and move to 5-1 in the league. Texas is coming on strong, but when the dust settles, Nebraska will be the conference champion.

5. Cal State-Fullerton

The Titans have played a tough schedule and have won 20 of 27. The out-of-conference slate has been murderer's row for Fullerton, just as it is each and every year. They play in the Big West, and it is not the SEC or Big XII so in order to get the good competition, the Titans must play the Texas's and Rice's of the world in non-league play so that they are ready when the postseason rolls around.

6. Rice

The Owls face off with Tulane this weekend and the Green Wave have been fading, so I see the Owls taking two of three and establishing themselves as the team to beat in C-USA. The winner of this series will take the league and maybe solidify themselves as a national seed. If Rice can get a national seed, they would be playing at home for three consecutive tournaments(C-USA, Regionals, Super Regionals) before trekking off to Omaha.

7. Georgia Tech

The Rambling Wreck is off to a mediocre start in the ACC, but they have the talent to turn it around. The schedule plays into Tech's favor as the season rolls on. The Jackets will get healthy this weekend as they travel to lowly Maryland where they will sweep and go to 8-4 in the ACC.

8. Texas

The defending national champs are beginning to roll at the right time. You can never count out the burnt orange nation, just ask Mississippi. Coach Garrido knows how to coach, and the early-season stuggles are over. Look for Texas to close strong, and if the Horns can leapfrog Nebraska, they could move even higher.

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