Arizona State top seed in NCAA baseball tourney

NEW YORK (AP) — Arizona State made it easy for the NCAA selection committee.

The Sun Devils (47-8) overcame a sudden coaching change before the season, won the Pac-10 title and were chosen Monday as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament.

"They really didn't make very many mistakes throughout the course of the season and down the stretch," committee chairman Tim Weiser said. "I think they, for the most part, from beginning to end have been a team that people have recognized and looked at as kind of separate from a lot of other teams."

The other national seeds, in order, are: Texas (46-11), Florida (42-15), Coastal Carolina (51-7), Virginia (47-11), UCLA (43-13), Louisville (48-12) and Georgia Tech (45-13).

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference each had eight teams selected by the NCAA baseball committee, all-time highs for both the ACC and Pac-10.

"It was a unique feature for us, especially when it came to trying to determine how we distribute these teams from a regional standpoint," Weiser said.

The 16 regional winners move on to the best-of-three super regionals, with those winners advancing to the College World Series, which begins June 19 in Omaha, Neb. It will be the last one played at Rosenblatt Stadium, the home of college baseball's premier event since 1950. The eight-team championship will move to a new ballpark in downtown Omaha next season.

Arizona State has had an outstanding season under interim coach Tim Esmay, who replaced Pat Murphy after he abruptly resigned in November after 15 years. The Sun Devils will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday. Arizona State opens against Horizon League champion Milwaukee (33-24).

"Although we had a lot of debate on the seven and eight seeds, I cannot recall us having any debate or discussion about Arizona State," said Weiser, the athletic director at Kansas State.

It's the first time Arizona State has been the No. 1 overall seed, a spot that hasn't exactly panned out for teams of late. The only top national seed to win the College World Series since the field was expanded in 1999 to 64 teams was Miami in that same year.

Defending national champion LSU will play UC Irvine in the first round of the Los Angeles regional, hosted by UCLA.

Florida International's Garrett Wittels will carry a 54-game hitting streak into the Coral Gables, Fla., regional and an opening-round matchup against Texas A&M. Wittels is four games shy of matching Robin Ventura's Division I record of 58 consecutive games with at least one hit, set in 1987 for Oklahoma State.

Mercer, which won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament, is the lone team making its first appearance. New Mexico is in for the first time since 1962, while Oregon is playing in the tournament for the first time since 1964. The Ducks are in their second season since restarting their program under former Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton.

Miami extended its NCAA record by making its 38th consecutive appearance, while Florida State is in for the 33rd straight year. The Seminoles are the only No. 1 seed not hosting a regional. They'll travel to Norwich, Conn., where the University of Connecticut is the host team after the selection committee chose to place a regional in a nontraditional geographical area.

"I think we felt like if we could do this without sacrificing the integrity of our seeding process and what we consider to be our top 16 seeds, we at least needed to explore that," Weiser said. "It was the right thing to do given the option of a Northeast location that we don't usually have."

North Carolina, which has made four straight College World Series appearances, made the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection despite not making the ACC tournament. The Tar Heels (36-20) have been ranked in the top 30 for much of the season.

"We have not had that as a criteria, and we have not suggested to the membership that they have to make a conference tournament," Weiser said. "I think in North Carolina's case, the argument can be made that they had a very good season."

Two teams with losing records earned automatic berths by winning their conference titles: Patriot League champion Bucknell (25-33) and Southwestern Conference winner Grambling (22-30).

Weiser said the committee had to consider about 12 teams for the tournament's last two spots. Among schools left out were: Kentucky, Texas State and Pittsburgh.