NCAA baseball tournament field announced

Originally Published: May 11, 2006
Associated Press

Clemson was selected as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament Monday.

The Tigers (47-14), the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament champions, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday. Clemson, led by sluggers Andy D'Alessio and Tyler Colvin, was ranked No. 1 for 19 weeks in at least one of the major polls and opens up against UNC-Asheville.

"The most impressive thing to me was the way they played at the end of the year, winning the regular season in that conference and winning the tournament in that conference," committee chairman Larry Templeton said. "They took on anybody and everybody, and they beat them."

The other national seeds, in order, are: Rice (50-10), Texas (40-19), Alabama (41-19), Cal State Fullerton (43-13), Nebraska (42-15), Georgia (41-19) and Georgia Tech (45-16).

"We spent more time reviewing the top eight seeds than ever before at any point that I've been involved with this committee," said Templeton, also the athletic director at Mississippi State.

The Southeastern Conference had eight teams receive berths, down from the record nine it had in each of the last two years. Joining Alabama and Georgia are Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Getting seven teams each were the ACC -- Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia -- and the Big 12 -- Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.

Miami (36-21) is making its 34th straight tournament appearance to extend its NCAA record.

Lehigh (28-26), UNC Asheville (28-33), Prairie View (33-20), San Francisco (38-21) and Sacred Heart (26-28) are all in the field for the first time.

Manhattan (32-21) won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to earn its first berth since 1957. Saint Louis, the Atlantic 10 champ, is in for the first time since 1966, while Ball State is making its first appearance since 1969.

The committee uses a number of factors, including RPI, strength of schedule, games against top-150 teams and non-conference strength of schedule to determine at-large bids.

"Factoring all of that criteria into making a decision, sometimes it gets down to the point where you have to go head-to-head between teams," said committee member Mike Hamrick, the athletic director at UNLV.

Hamrick said there were 17 teams being considered for the final seven spots, and 12 teams were discussed for the last five berths.

"We felt all 12 teams had a legitimate shot at being considered for the field of 64," Hamrick said. "There's some very good baseball teams that, unfortunately, will not get to participate, but we do feel very good about the field."

LSU wasn't selected for the tournament after finishing eighth in the SEC, the first time since 1988 the Tigers aren't in the field of 64.

"At the end, the teams they were being compared to, in the committee's eyes, they did not match up to the teams that got into the tournament," Hamrick said.

Also not in is national runner-up Florida, which battled numerous injuries and finished second-to-last in the SEC.

One of the last teams to get in was Mississippi State (35-21), which started the season on an 18-game winning streak, but struggled in SEC play with a 12-17 record. Templeton wasn't in the room while the Bulldogs were being discussed, but Hamrick said the committee selected Mississippi State based on its start and the fact it had the 17th-toughest schedule and a winning record against top-150 teams.

Each of the regionals will be played on campus sites from June 2-5.

The 16 regional hosts are: Alabama, Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Rice, Texas and Virginia.

The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played June 9-12.

The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 16 in Omaha, Neb.

Texas is trying to join the 1949-50 Longhorns, Southern California (1970-74), Stanford (1987-88) and Louisiana State (1996-97) as repeat national champions.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press