Six NCAA Baseball Tournament Regional Hosts On Upset Alert In 2024


Image credit: Can Wake Forest play the role of regional spoiler in 2024? (Photo by Eddie Kelly/ProLook Photos)

In the last decade, an average of about six hosts have not advanced past regionals (last year there were seven). So, who are the six No. 1 seeds who are most likely to be upset this week?

Related: See the full 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket here

Ranking Every Team 1-64

Baseball America’s Peter Flaherty power ranks the entire 2024 NCAA Tournament field.


The Wildcats were a bit of a surprise regional host because of their RPI (31), but there’s no doubting their other credentials. Arizona doubled up on Pac-12 titles, winning both the regular season and the tournament championship, and are 26-8 since March 28. While the selection committee showed strong conviction in Arizona, seeding it No. 13 in the tournament, it also gave them perhaps the hardest regional draw.

No. 2 seed Dallas Baptist (44-13) won the Conference USA Tournament title and has been a Top 25 team much of the year. No. 3 West Virginia finished fourth in the Big 12 standings and went 17-8 in the regular season after JJ Wetherholt, the potential first overall draft pick, returned from injury at the start of April. No. 4 seed Grand Canyon is no stranger to the postseason and this spring went 2-1 against Arizona, including a 24-8 thrashing in April (though its notable all those games were midweeks). Any of these teams could realistically win in Tucson.

East Carolina

Since the selection committee started seeding all 16 hosts in 2018 (previously, regionals were matched up based on geography and to avoid conference matchups), the No. 16 overall seed has won its regional just once–last year, when Alabama swept through the Tuscaloosa Regional.

The selection committee seems to try to put the best No. 2 seed in that regional and this year ECU must deal with Wake Forest, the preseason No. 1 team and a team that has as much star power as any in the field. We’ll see how both teams manage their starters, but this at least does have the potential to create a matchup of projected first-round picks between Trey Yesavage and Chase Burns. Wake is 13-2 in games Burns starts. Yesavage, if he’s healthy after last week being hospitalized with a partially collapsed lung, is one of the few pitchers who can go head-to-head with him. Further complicating things for ECU is that it went 8-7 in May and will need to recapture the momentum it had early in the year.


There are five SEC hosts, and they probably aren’t all going to win their regional, though they are all top-eight seeds. The Bulldogs seem the one most ripe for an upset. Georgia has less tournament experience on its roster than the other SEC hosts and a first-year head coach in Wes Johnson. How will it respond to the pressure of a regional environment? It’s an unknown. Georgia has lost three straight games and will have had 10 days off since losing in the SEC Tournament first round. What kind of impact will that have on the Bulldogs? The rest might have been beneficial, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if they came out a little rusty Friday.

No. 2 seed UNC Wilmington is perhaps the best program to have never won a regional, a designation it really wants to retire, and No. 3 seed Georgia Tech is an in-state rival with a powerful offense that would love to end Georgia’s season. No. 4 seed Army has more tournament experience than any other team in Athens (the Black Knights have made six straight), have as much mental fortitude as any team in the country and an ace in Justin Lehman (5-3, 2.53) who presents a tricky matchup out of the gate.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels are 32-2 this season at Boshamer Stadium and are a team that I’ve argued is a national championship favorite. So, what are they doing on this list? The answer is twofold: 1) that’s just how much I believe in LSU right now and 2) there is some inexperience for UNC.

LSU, the No. 2 seed in the region, went 11-3 in May to storm into the tournament field, including a seven-game winning streak that was snapped in the SEC Tournament championship game against Tennessee. The Tigers, who were my preseason national championship pick, are playing as well as anyone in the country and have one of the best 1-2 punches on the mound in lefthander Gage Jump and righthander Luke Hollman, as well as a bullpen ace in lefthander Griffin Herring. UNC is plenty talented, but it’s starting freshmen at catcher (Luke Stevenson) and the front of its rotation (Jason DeCaro).


The Sooners are a bit of an anomaly in college baseball this season. They’re actually better on the road (14-5) than they are at home (18-10). They’re also really good at beating teams worse than they are and not so good at beating teams that are on their level–they lost series to Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia, the teams that finished second, third and fourth in the Big 12 standings, as well as getting swept at home by Lamar.

So, while Oklahoma is 37-19 overall and won the Big 12 title, it is by no means unbeatable. Duke, the No. 2 seed in Norman, has been up and down this season. It just swept through the ACC Tournament, but it had lost three of its last four series at the end of the season. Lefthander Jonathan Santucci, a projected first-round pick, is expected to this weekend be back in the rotation after missing his last two starts. UConn, the No. 3 seed, is a solid, well-traveled, well-tested team that’s not going to be overwhelmed by the moment in any way. Oral Roberts, the No. 4 seed, is not as good as last year’s College World Series team, but it’s got that experience and it’s 1-1 this season against the Sooners. I wouldn’t be surprised by any result in Norman this weekend.

Oklahoma State

This has more to do with who the Cowboys drew in the Stillwater Regional than anything related to their own team. Oklahoma State has won nine of its last 10 games, including a run through the Big 12 Tournament. It is also 21-5 this season at O’Brate Stadium.

The trouble, however, is the draw. Coming to Stillwater this week is Nebraska, the Big Ten Tournament champion that is 21-12 away from home, and Florida, the 2023 national runner-up led by All-American Jac Caglianone. No. 4 seed Niagara is basically untested against these kind of opponents, having played just two teams this year against a team that made the NCAA Tournament (it went 1-1 against James Madison). Oklahoma State has lost back-to-back home regionals and while I think this year’s version of the Cowboys is better than 2022 and 2023, they’ll still have their hands full.

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