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Shortlist Of 20 Potential NCAA Tournament Host Sites Announced



The NCAA’s baseball selection committee on Friday announced the short list of candidates to host regionals and super regionals in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The list of 20 sites will be pared to 16 on May 30, the day before Selection Monday.

The potential host site schools are Arizona, Arkansas, Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida, Gonzaga, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.

The selection process for host sites changed this year to accommodate the need to create a coronavirus testing lab at each host site. The process to set the lab up and ensure it is operating correctly takes longer than the typical five-day notice host sites get, so the selection committee needed to pick host sites a few weeks early.

The list of 20 was largely as expected, with a few surprises. Gonzaga was absent from most of the prior discussion about potential hosts, but with an RPI of 23 and in first place in the West Coast Conference, the Zags made the list. South Carolina is not as big of a surprise inclusion and the Gamecocks have a clear case, as they rank No. 15 in RPI and could finish with as many as 18 SEC wins. But currently sitting at just 12-12 in the SEC, it would have been understandable if the committee had not included them.

The ACC notably only has two potential host sites (Notre Dame and Pittsburgh). For a conference that ranks third in RPI, that is abnormally low, but nothing about this ACC season has been normal. The conference expanded its schedule to 12 weekends and limited its members to 50 overall games, eliminating 12 non-conference games, to accommodate the uncertainty of playing a season during a pandemic. As a result of those moves and some subpar performances and scheduling, the entire conference is dealing with suppressed RPI. First-place Notre Dame is also the conference’s top-rated team in RPI at No. 12. No other team from the conference ranks in the top 20 and only Miami (22) and Pitt (28) rank in the top 30.

Florida State and Louisville both rank in the Top 25 and might have gotten consideration, despite their poor RPI. Instead, the selection committee opted to stick closer to the metric.

The accelerated process for selecting host sites makes it impossible for a team outside the shortlist to play their way into a home regional with a strong stretch run. It’s rare for a team to do so over the final three weeks, but 2017 Florida State is one such example.

When the accelerated process for host site selection was first presented, it appeared the selection committee would have to pick the 16 hosts early. But because it instead is able to produce a shortlist, it is girded against a team playing itself out of hosting contention down the stretch. That should eliminate any need to make a team hosting a regional a No. 2 seed, something that has not happened since 2010.

The full Field of 64 will be announced May 31.

Kevin Kopps Arkansas Wesleyhittgetty

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