The Division I Baseball Committee announced the 16 regional sites for the 2013 NCAA tournament, and there were no surprises. All 16 teams we forecasted to host this morning will do so. Here they are:
SITE: HOST (RECORD)
Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State (52-9)
Blacksburg, Va.: Virginia Tech (38-20)
Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana (43-14)
Chapel Hill, N.C.: North Carolina (52-8)
Charlottesville, Va.: Virginia (47-10)
Columbia, S.C.: South Carolina (39-18)
Corvallis, Ore.: Oregon State (45-10)
Eugene, Ore.: Oregon (45-14)
Fullerton, Calif.: Cal State Fullerton (48-8)
Los Angeles.: UCLA (39-17)
Louisville, Ky.: Louisville (46-10)
Manhattan, Kan.: Kansas State (41-17)
Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt (51-9)
Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State (44-14)
Starkville, Miss.: Mississippi State (43-17)
Tallahassee, Fla.: Florida State (44-15)
We agree with 15 of these selections, but would have gone with Arkansas over South Carolina based on its third-place finish in the SEC, its sweep of the Gamecocks in Columbia, its superior record against the top 50 (17-16 vs. 11-14), and its stronger showing in the SEC tournament (the Hogs beat Ole Miss and LSU before losing to LSU on Saturday, while the Gamecocks went 0-2). But this committee appears to be placing more emphasis on Ratings Percentage Index and nonconference strength of schedule, and the Gamecocks get the edge in both of those areas. In the updated WarrenNolan.com RPI rankings, South Carolina is No. 13 while Arkansas is No. 31. The Gamecocks’ strength of schedule ranking is 17th, while Arkansas’ is 47th.
There is a precedent for a team in the 30s in the RPI hosting over a team in the teens—UCLA hosted with a No. 34 RPI in 2011, at the expense of No. 14 Arkansas. Of course, that UCLA team won the Pac-10 and had a much stronger strength of schedule rating than this Arkansas team does. A couple of bad losses in nonconference action really hurt the Hogs.
South Carolina is a perfectly defensible choice, even if we would have made a different one. And we’re glad the committee chose to reward Virginia Tech for its quality wins (6-2 against Florida State and Virginia, most notably, and a strong 3-0 run in the ACC tournament). So far, no curveballs from the committee.
The national seeds and the rest of the tournament field will be announced Monday at noon Eastern.