2024 NCAA Baseball Tournament Host Sites Announced Ahead Of Selection Monday


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The selection committee on Sunday announced the 16 regional host sites for the NCAA Tournament.

The schools hosting regionals will be Arizona, Arkansas, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara and Virginia. The full bracket for the NCAA Tournament, including the way the 16 hosts are seeded, will be released Monday at noon on ESPN2.

The ACC and SEC each have five host sites, leading all conferences. The Big 12 and Pac-12 have two hosts each, while the American and Big West each have one team hosting.

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The inclusion of Arizona as a host site is a surprise. The Wildcats won both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament title, but their RPI of 31 is well outside the typical range for hosts. They also are just 3-9 in quad 1 games. But Arizona ranked No. 1 in non-conference strength of schedule, staked a strong claim as the best team in the conference and played well down the stretch, going 10-4 in May.

ECU earning a host site is also controversial. Like Arizona, ECU is outside the typical RPI range for hosts at No. 22, though that’s kind of RPI for a host is far from unprecedented. The Pirates won the American Athletic Conference regular season title for the fifth year in a row before getting tripped up in the conference tournament. Their non-conference strength of schedule ranks ninth nationally, though their overall strength of schedule falls to 71 because of the poor quality of the American.

Mississippi State will feel it was snubbed, especially if the selection committee was willing to overlook RPI in the case of Arizona and ECU. The Bulldogs rank 25th in RPI, but they have 16 quad 1 wins, fourth-most nationally, and finished fifth in the SEC. They were largely undone by their five quad 4 losses (not team in the top 40 of RPI has more), but if the committee was willing to look past an RPI outside the top 20, especially in the case of ECU, Mississippi State’s snub is harder to understand.

Even more than Mississippi State, however, Dallas Baptist and Duke should feel snubbed. They presented strong closing cases to host after wins in Sunday’s conference championship games pushed their RPIs to Nos. 17 and 16, respectively. Both have strong quad 1 wins (13-12 for Duke, 9-2 for DBU). Both rate better than Arizona and ECU in KPI, a metric newly added to the selection process this season. Duke’s poor non-conference strength of schedule (214) is a ding on its resume, but DBU’s (61) shouldn’t be. And it’s hard to understand how even a bad non-conference strength of schedule would undo all the rest of the metrics. Duke also won a head-to-head game against ECU and DBU won a head-to-head game against Arizona.

It’s hard to look past the fact that both the ACC and Conference USA finished their tournaments on Sunday afternoon, just a few hours before the host announcement. Were those tournaments not concluded in time for the selection committee to properly evaluate the champions? In 2022, Oklahoma was similarly snubbed as a host after winning the Big 12 Tournament on the Sunday and pushing its RPI into the top 20.

The committee this year tweaked the selection criteria, adjusting the quad system to account for where the game was played and adding KPI. Those changes were always going to make this year’s field a little harder to predict and present a few new wrinkles. But after Sunday’s host site announcement, it’s even harder than anticipated to find the through lines in the committee’s selections.

RPI clearly isn’t everything – otherwise Arizona and ECU wouldn’t be hosting – but it also isn’t nothing. KPI was never going to carry the day in the committee room because it wasn’t added to the process to be the deciding metric, but anyone hoping it would be a significant piece is likely to be disappointed, as four hosts rank outside the top 20 in the metric and Mississippi State was passed over despite ranking 10th.

We’ll know more when we see the full field tomorrow. And maybe it’s a good thing if there is no one, overarching principle in the committee room. That makes it harder to predict – both for bracketoligists and for coaches who are looking to maximize their tournament chances – but it also might indicate a more holistic approach, rather than one that falls back on a single number.

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