Hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day celebrations yesterday. If you are a Milwaukee Brewers fan, I apologize for what the Orioles did with two outs in the 9th inning and in extras to steal a Memorial Day victory away from the home crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed it as an O's fan.
Queue "Happy Song" because the NCAA tournament brackets have been unveiled. The SEC makes up a record 10 teams of the 64 team field. Louisiana Lafayette ends the regular season as the number one team in the country with a school record 53 wins (see rankings here). Whether you care or not, the three teams I root for, South Carolina, Maryland, and Southeastern Louisiana, all made the cut which got me uber excited until I saw Maryland placed in the Columbia regional. Queue "Turn Blue" by the Black Keys. I'll be rooting for the Gamecocks. Sorry, Maryland.
If you want to take a look at the official bracket, go here. For now, I’m going to go conference by conference and briefly recap who made it from each conference and how they got in. Tomorrow or Thursday (depending on work schedule), I’ll have another post up which will be more of a tournament preview with my bold predictions as well as a list of the top prospects you’ll want to tune in for in each regional.
Atlantic 10 – Conference Champion: George Mason
The number three seed heading into the A-10 tournament, the Patriots went 4-0 to win the conference title, beating Dayton, St. Joseph’s, and VCU twice.
ACC – Conference Champion: Georgia Tech
Others: No. 3 Virginia, No. 5 Florida State, No. 14 Miami, No. 26 Clemson, North Carolina, Maryland
The 2nd lowest seed in the ACC tournament, the Yellow Jackets took out Wake Forest, Miami, Clemson, and Duke to reach the championship game. They beat my Maryland Terrapins, another surprise team in the final, by a 9-4 score. This is Maryland's first appearance in 43 years. That's both impressive and depressing.
American – Conference Champion: No. 9 Houston
Others: No. 8 Louisville
Houston and their dominant pitching staff took down the AAC crown, beating Louisville 10-4 in the championship. Somewhat surprised to see UCF not make the cut but they were on the bubble with an RPI of 48.
America East – Conference Champion: Binghamton
Upset favorites Stony Brook and Hartford to reach NCAA’s.
Atlantic Sun – Conference Champion: Kennesaw State
I’ve mentioned they were playing hot baseball in some of my recent columns and that continued into the A-Sun tournament. We’ll get to see the top catching prospect in the draft, Max Pentecost, on the big stage now in the FSU regional.
Big Ten – Conference Champion: No. 11 Indiana
Others: No. 21 Nebraska
The Hoosiers are a national seed after rolling through the Big Ten both in the regular season and conference tournament. Don't sleep on Nebraska, who quietly had a great year under 2nd-year head coach Darin Erstad.
Big 12 – Conference Champion: No. 16 TCU
Others: No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 20 Texas, No. 23 Texas Tech, Kansas
The Horned Frogs were one of the hottest teams in the country down the stretch and that continued into the Big 12 tournament. They knocked off Oklahoma State by a 7-1 score in the championship game with freshman LHP Tyler Alexander going the distance.
Big East – Conference Champion: Xavier
The Musketeers upset regular season champion Creighton in the final to steal their tourney bid. The fans in Omaha likely aren't too pleased about that.
Big South – Conference Champion: Campbell
Campbell upset heavily favored Liberty to win the championship. We've discussed Liberty several times as a tourney sleeper and they had no problem getting an at large bid with their strong No. 30 RPI ranking.
Big West – Conference Champion: No. 6 Cal Poly
Others: Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, Long Beach State
The Big West doesn't believe in conference tourney's so Cal Poly is your champion. Cal State Fullerton is finally getting hot at the right time after a mostly disappointing regular season and Justin Garza made national headlines this weekend with a no-hitter!
CAA – Conference Champion: College Of Charleston
The Cougars knocked off William & Mary (who I'm disappointed won't be making the tournament) in the CAA title game by a 6-4 score to win the conference in their inaugural season.
C-USA – Conference Champion: No. 15 Rice
Others: Old Dominion
Another year, another conference title for baseball powerhouse Rice. Conference newcomers Old Dominion somehow earned a bid despite a 4th place conference finish thanks to their strong No. 32 RPI.
Horizon – Conference Champion: Youngstown State
Meet the worst team in the playing field by far with a record of 16-36. Sorry, not sorry. I'm sure they're happy to be here.
Ivy – Conference Champion: Columbia
The Ivy Leaguers beat Dartmouth twice to earn the bid. They somehow boasted a No. 35 RPI so the Lions may have gotten in anyway.
MAAC – Conference Champion: Siena
They took down heavily favored Cansius to steal a bid away from the Golden Griffins.
MAC – Conference Champion: Kent State
Kent State had a somewhat down year but has made a run to Omaha before (in 2012) and is hot at the right time as the Golden Flashes didn't lose a single game in the MAC tournament.
MEAC – Conference Champion: Bethune-Cookman
Missouri Valley – Conference Champion: No. 28 Dallas Baptist
Others: Indiana State
Led by a talented pitching staff with multiple draft prospects, the Patriots (who have pulled off big upsets in recent NCAA tourney's) won the MVC in their inaugural season. Indiana State quietly boasted an outstanding No. 21 RPI rating which comfortably got them in.
Mountain West – Conference Champion: No. 30 San Diego State
The Aztecs had to beat the 1st place Rebels twice in the MW championship to win the conference and they did just that. Shame the Rebels won’t have ace righty Erick Fedde with them in the NCAA's due to TJ surgery. Luckily for him, Keith Law still projects him as a 1st rounder.
NEC – Conference Champion: Bryant
Bryant has now won back to back conference titles with their win over Sacred Hart in the NEC championship.
OVC – Conference Champion: Jacksonville State
They had to beat Tennessee Tech (leads nation in team home runs) twice to win the conference, but that's exactly what JSU did.
Pac-12 – Conference Champion: No. 2 Oregon State
Others: No. 18 Washington, No. 19 Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State
The Pac-12 is weird and doesn't do a conference tournament so the Beavers are the regular season and conference champions. Washington had an outstanding year and Oregon dominated as usual too. Stanford
Patriot – Conference Champion: Bucknell
The Bison beat Lehigh twice to take down the Patriot League championship.
SEC – Conference Champion: LSU
Others: No. 10 Florida, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 13 Vanderbilt, No. 17 Ole Miss, No. 22 Mississippi State, No. 27 Arkansas, No. 29 Alabama, Kentucky, Texas A&M
That's ten schools in total. All pretty deserving in my opinion with Texas A&M the only question mark. LSU is on fire as won every SEC tournament game they played and rocketed up 8 spots in the poll this week.
Southern – Conference Champion: Georgia Southern
The 4th placed Eagles stole a bid from regular season champion Western Carolina with their quarter final win and knocked off Samford in the championship to earn a bid.
Southland – Conference Champion: Southeastern Louisiana
Others: No. 25 Sam Houston State
It's a shame my brother graduated last year. The Lions finally get over the hump after consistently falling on the wrong side of the at large bubble recently and losing in the conference title game the last two seasons my brother played there. Sam Houston won the regular season title again and as a ranked team, was a shoo-in for an at large bid.
Summit – Conference Champion: North Dakota State
What is it with North Dakota State athletics? They utterly dominate FCS football, pulled off a 1st round upset in the basketball tournament, and of course qualified for the baseball tournament too, where I bet they have an upset ready to happen too.
Sun Belt - Conference Champion: UL-Lafayette
The top mid-major in the country all year naturally swept through their conference tournament. They’ll be hosting a regional as the No. 6 National Seed. SS Blake Trahan had an outstanding weekend at the plate.
SWAC – Conference Champion: Jackson State
They upset Alabama State, the one good team in this otherwise dreadful conference, to get their tourney bid. So, that's something.
WAC – Conference Champion: Sacramento State
Led by top WAC draft prospect Rhys Hoskins, the pre-season favorites lived up to the hype with a win over Utah Valley in the championship.
WCC – Conference Champion: No. 24 Pepperdine
1st place Pepperdine beat Loyola Marymount in the championship and earned a 2 seed in the Cal Poly regional, where they could play spoiler alert to the host in my opinion.