With all 16 teams set for the NCAA Division 1 Baseball Super Regionals this weekend (Miami defeated Texas A&M to earn the last spot today 6/8 to earn the final spot after numerous rain delays), we take a look at this upcoming weekend's matchups. The double elimination rounds of the Regionals are complete, and the Super Regionals turn to a best-of-three format for this round. This weekend is sure to provide a high level of intensity as these teams fight it out for the remaining 8 spots in the College World Series and a trip to Omaha, Nebraska. Now let's get to the matchups:
1. 1. Arizona State (50-8) vs. Arkansas (43-19) Tempe, AZ
The Sun Devils come in as the number one overall seed in the nation. The Pac-10 regular season champion, they are led by Pac-10 player of the year in Zach MacPhee (.394, 9 home runs, and a team leading 63 RBIs) as well as Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Seth Blair, who was recently picked 46th overall in the first round of the MLB draft. Undefeated in regionals, they defeated UW-Milwaukee and University of Hawaii twice to get here.
Arkansas finished second overall in the Western Division of the SEC in the regular season. They defeated Grambling in their opening match in the Regionals, and then defeated Washington State in what was essentially a best of three series. They are led by third baseman Zach Cox, who led the SEC in batting at .427 and was picked 25th in the draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
2. Clemson (41-22) vs. Alabama (41-23) Clemson, SC
Clemson was the ACC Atlantic Division co-champion during the regular season, and defeated Southern Mississippi and Arkansas twice (losing once) in the Regionals. Outfielder Kyle Parker, who plays football at the university as well, is their man, leading the team in on-base percentage (.484), home runs (20), runs scored (78), and slugging percentage (.694). He was the 26th overall pick in the first round of the MLB draft, too.
The Crimson Tide are a very hot team, winning 12 of their previous 14 games and coming off back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech in the Regionals to advance after a mediocre regular season that saw them go .500 in conference play.
3. 5. Virginia (50-12) vs. Oklahoma (47-15) Charlottesville, VA
Oklahoma finished a distant second to Texas in the Big-12 during the regular season. They made a sweep of their regional to advance to play the Cavaliers in this round. They are led by Garret Buechele, who led the team in batting average home runs, and RBIs.
Virginia entered tournament ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in each of the four major polls and finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference during the regular season. They defeated St. John's in their final Regional game. While their lineup lacks power, Virginia's pitching staff will be their backbone. Ace Danny Hultzen, who anchors their staff with a regular season record of 10 and 1 with a 2.83 ERA, looks to rebound after a disappointing effort against Ole Miss at Regionals.
4. South Carolina (46-15) vs. 4. Coastal Carolina (55-8) Myrtle Beach, SC
In a battle between schools that are located within two miles of each other, Coastal Carolina comes in as the nation's number 4 seed and from a dominating regular season that saw them go undefeated (25-0) in Big South Conference play and have the nation's best record at 51-7. After getting embarrassed against College of Charleston in the Regionals 16-6, they rebounded with two one-run victories over Charleston to advance, the final of which was in extra innings. They look to prove wrong doubters who question their strength of schedule, similar to a team like Butler in the NCAA men's tournament.
South Carolina comes in from the highly touted SEC, where they finished with a 21-9 mark in conference play, good for second in the Eastern Division of the SEC. Their strength is their pitching staff, which had the lowest ERA in the SEC and is led by Blake Cooper, who led the conference with 11 wins. They swept through their Regional to get here, dusting off Citadel, Bucknell, and Virginia Tech. Extra bragging rights are at stake in this game.
5. 2. Texas (49-11) vs. TCU (49-11) Austin, TX
The Longhorns, typically a powerhouse in Division One baseball, are the nation's second overall seed. In the regular season, they led their conference in ERA (2.44) by a wide margin as well as fielding percentage. In fact, no one on their roster had an ERA higher than 3.62. Closer Chance Ruffin recently went 48th overall in the MLB draft's first round. Texas swept through their regional opponents.
TCU makes its second straight appearance in Super Regionals and has attained a school record for wins this season with 49. An offensive juggernaut, TCU has already set school records for home runs (90) and doubles (170) while having no batter currently hitting below .300. This offensive firepower coupled with Texas' pitching prowess makes for an intriguing matchup.
6. Florida State (45-17) vs. Vanderbilt (45-18) Tallahassee, FL
By winning the ACC tournament and sweeping through the Regionals, Florida State is a confident team. Outfielder/reliever Mike McGee is one to watch as he not only led the team with 14 home runs and 67 RBIs, but also in ERA at 0.38 with a 4-0 record and 11 saves to boot.
Fresh off ending Louisville's historic season in extra innings, Vanderbilt further demonstrates the depth of the SEC, getting to this point after going 16-12 during conference play in the regular season. The Commodores rely on the strength and depth of their pitching staff as well as a strong bullpen. They finished with a 3.58 ERA during the regular season and possess ace Sonny Gray, an all-SEC performer.
7. 6. UCLA (46-13)*vs. Cal State Fullerton (45-16) Los Angeles, CA
A series between two schools located within less than forty miles of one another, these two teams are sure to bring attention to west coast baseball fans. UCLA is set to host its first Super Regional in program history this weekend after defeating defending champion LSU in the Regionals 6-3. The Bruins are another team that relies on its pitching depth, possessing a team ERA of 2.94 and having three pitchers with at least 10 wins.
Fullerton is a team who is used to playing deep into June, this being their seventh consecutive NCAA Super Regional Birth. The Titans lost their first game in Regionals before redeeming themselves with two victories over Minnesota to move on. CSU Fullerton possesses two first round picks in the MLB draft in shortstop Christian Colon (4th overall) and infielder Gary Brown (24th overall), who hit .438 this year which was good for 10th in the country. Fullerton swept the Bruins this year by winning both games.
8. 3. Florida (45-15) vs. Miami (43-18) Gainesville, FL
Miami finally defeated Texas A&M today in a series that kept getting rain delayed and now they face the Gators in another series that will help determine state bragging rights. They are led by catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was picked 12th in the draft by the Cincinnati Reds and hit .411 for the season. Infielder Harold Martinez hit 21 home runs for them as well.
Florida is the number 3 seed overall in the tournament and were winners of the SEC Eastern Division during the regular season. They advanced by defeating Florida Atlantic 15-0, completing a sweep in Regionals. Catcher Austin Maddox leads the team with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs. .