History Could Be On Diamond Hogs Side

FAYETTEVILLE — The waiting is the hardest part. But if past history is any indication, the wait could be well worth it.

For the last week, Arkansas has been forced to sit at home and watch in agony as other college baseball teams around the country were busy helping their cause towards possible berths in the NCAA Tournament. All the while, the Razorbacks are stuck hoping their resume is still strong enough to earn a spot in the field of 64.

"This isn't any fun, to be honest with you," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It's a little bit stressful just watching scores and trying to guess. It's a position I don't like being in and the players don't like being in.

"But hopefully we'll get some good news on Monday. If not, we'll start getting ready for next year."

When the NCAA Regional pairings are announced at 11:30 a.m. today, the Diamond Hogs (34-22) are hoping to hear their name called. But since they missed out on the Southeastern Conference Tournament — finishing ninth in the league this season — there's plenty of doubt in and around the Baum Stadium clubhouse.

However, missing the SEC Tournament isn't an automatic nail in the coffin when it comes to making an NCAA regional. Or at least it hasn't been for a few conference teams.

Between 2003 and 2006, four SEC teams who finished ninth in the league made the NCAA regional play without qualifying for the conference tournament. And Arkansas — with comparable or even favorable numbers to those previous four teams — is now hoping a fifth name can be added to that list.

"That's really all you have to go one now is what's gone on with past history," Van Horn said. "I still believe we're going to go down to that final 10 teams (the committee) is going to look at. And it's just going to come down to somebody swaying somebody one way or another, what's fair or what's not and how many teams are representing certain areas.

"But I just don't know, though."

If the Razorbacks do make the NCAA Regionals, more good news could come out of today's announcement than just hearing their name called. Because judging by past trends as well, Arkansas could also be staying fairly close to home.

Currently, baseball websites SEBaseball and Rivals.com project the Diamond Hogs to not only make the tournament, but to also be sent to the Stillwater, Okla., regional.

"I think whenever we've had just an OK season good enough to get in the NCAA's, it seems like they send us to Austin," Van Horn said. "But Texas isn't getting a regional. It does look like Oklahoma State is getting one, but it's really hard to say.

"Obviously, we'd take anything they gave us and we'd go to the end of the United States to play. But in the past (staying close to home) has been the case, and if we stayed in this region that would give our fans a chance to see us play a little bit."

Whether they'll play, though, is still the biggest question. And even though past history favors the Razorbacks, it hasn't made the waiting game any easier.

"We've never really had to sit on pins and needles and wait to see if we're in a regional," junior Logan Forsythe said. "So it's different because we really don't know what we're doing yet. But at the same time, we at least get to still spend some more time out here with the other guys."

Is Ninth Place Enough?

Since 2003, four teams from the Southeastern Conference have made an NCAA Regional despite failing to qualify for the conference tournament. Arkansas is hoping to become the fifth team on this list when the NCAA field is announced today.

2003 Florida, 34-19, 13-16 in SEC, RPI of 32 at time of selection, No. 80 strength of schedule

2004 Mississippi State, 34-22, 13-17 in SEC, RPI of 26, No. 31 strength of schedule

2005 Auburn, 32-24, 13-17 in SEC, RPI of 17, No. 33 strength of schedule

2006 Mississippi State, 35-21, 12-17 in SEC, RPI of 34, No. 53 strength of schedule

2008 Arkansas, 34-22, 14-15 in SEC, RPI of 33, No. 23 strength of schedule

Close To Home

Several projections have Arkansas going to the Stillwater, Okla., regional this year. And that makes sense because history shows the Razorbacks usually haven't had to travel very far for NCAA Regional play.

Of the 15 regionals Arkansas has played on the road in school history — not including Super Regionals — 11 have taken place in Kansas, Oklahoma or Texas.

2007 — Fayetteville, Ark. Regional

2006 — Fayetteville, Ark. Regional

2005 — Austin, Texas Regional

2004 — Fayetteville, Ark. Regional

2003 — Austin, Texas Regional

2002 — Wichita, Kan. Regional

1999 — Fayetteville, Ark. Regional

1998 — Wichita, Kan. Regional

1996 — Lubbock, Texas Regional

1995 — Wichita, Kan. Regional

1990 — Wichita, Kan. Regional

1989 — Waterbury, Conn. Regional

1988 — Stillwater, Okla. Regional

1987 — Huntsville, Ala. Regional

1986 — Stillwater, Okla. Regional

1985 — Tallahassee, Fla. Regional

1983 — Stillwater, Okla. Regional

1980 — Tulsa, Okla. Regional

1979 — Tallahassee, Fla. Regional

2008 Regional Sites

The NCAA committee announced the 16 host sites for NCAA Regional play on Sunday. The entire field will be announced at 11:30 a.m., today on ESPNews. The following are the 16 host sites and host schools for this year's Division I baseball tournament:

Athens, Ga. (Georgia)

Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan)

Baton Rouge, La. (Louisiana State)

Cary, N.C. (North Carolina)

College Station, Texas (Texas A&M)

Conway, S.C. (Coastal Carolina)

Coral Gables, Fla. (Miami)

Fullerton, Cal. (Cal State Fullerton)

Houston, Texas (Rice)

Lincoln, Neb. (Nebraska)

Long Beach, Cal. (Long Beach State)

Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina State)

Palo Alto, Cal. (Stanford)

Stillwater, Okla. (Oklahoma State)

Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State)

Tempe, Ariz. (Arizona State)

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