Miami chosen as No. 1 seed; Oregon State left out of field
Miami was selected as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament Monday, while two-time defending champion Oregon State was left out of the field.
The Hurricanes (47-8), who won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for the first time, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday. Miami, making its 36th straight tournament appearance to extend its NCAA record, was ranked No. 1 in various polls for the majority of the season and opens against Bethune-Cookman (36-20).
"There was a lot of discussion about who the No. 1 seed should be, and quite frankly, North Carolina and Arizona State all got a strong look at that position," Division I selection committee chairman Larry Templeton said. "At the end of the night, Miami's play toward the end of the season, particularly winning the tournament -- and we were watching that tournament as the selection process was going through -- probably convinced the committee."
The other national seeds, in order, are: North Carolina (46-12), Arizona State (45-11), Florida State (48-10), Cal State Fullerton (37-19), Rice (42-13), LSU (43-16-1) and Georgia (35-21-1).
The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played June 6-9. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 14 in Omaha, Neb.
Being the top seed hasn't necessarily guaranteed tournament success. The only No. 1 overall seed to win the College World Series since the field was expanded to 64 teams was the 1999 Hurricanes, and no top-eight seed has won it all since Rice in 2003.
Oregon State (28-24) did not receive an at-large bid, despite having five series wins against teams in the 64-team field, including Arizona, Arizona State and Georgia. The Beavers, the first defending champ not to make the tournament since Georgia in 1991, will not have a chance to join Southern California (1970-74) as the only schools to win three straight titles.
"The committee struggled long and hard and, quite frankly, probably wouldn't have struggled as long if Oregon State had not been the two-time defending national champion," said Templeton, also the athletic director at Mississippi State. "The thing that probably was the determining factor was their 24 losses and who some of those losses were against. It was a tough call, but we felt that there were a couple of other teams that were more deserving."
A year after getting only five berths, the Southeastern Conference led the tournament field with nine, tying its the record it set in 2004 and matched in 2005: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Arkansas didn't make it into the eight-team SEC tournament, but the committee was impressed by how competitive the teams were.
"I think the thing about the SEC this year that impressed the committee is their strength of schedule had improved over last year," Templeton said. "It was the work of the whole year in that conference."
LSU enters the tournament as the hottest team in the country, riding a 20-game winning streak into their first-round matchup against Texas Southern (16-32).
"I'm extremely proud of what our team has accomplished so far, but we still have a lot of work to do," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "The NCAA tournament separates the men from the boys, so we know we have a great challenge in front of us."
The ACC (Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia) and Big 12 (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M) each had six teams selected.
UC Davis, Dallas Baptist, Lipscomb and Mount St. Mary's are in the tournament for the first time, while Columbia is in the field for the first time since 1976.
Dallas Baptist is the first independent other than Miami to be selected to tournament since Cal State Northridge in 1992.
"What they've done is what our committee has suggested, and they've gone out and played really good people in other conferences and they've been successful," Templeton said. "We rewarded them for that."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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