'Noles' Bracket Finalized

Texas was selected Monday as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament, and the Southeastern Conference received a record nine berths. The Longhorns (50-13), making their 47th tournament appearance and sixth in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

The NCAA Tournament baseball field is set. And now the fun begins.

Texas was selected Monday as the top seed for the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament, and the Southeastern Conference received a record nine berths. The Longhorns (50-13), making their 47th tournament appearance and sixth in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

The other national seeds, in order, are: South Carolina (45-15), Miami (44-11), Georgia Tech (41-19), Stanford (44-12), Rice (43-12), Arizona State (40-16) and Arkansas (39-21). Those schools would face each other only if they made the College World Series.

Florida State, meanwhile, looks to build on its Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship.

The Seminoles, one of 16 regional hosts, opens with Bethune-Cookman (27-26) on Friday at Dick Howser Stadium. Oklahoma State (37-22) and Central Florida (44-16) round out the four-team field in Tallahassee.

The Southeastern Conference was the big winner in the tournament field.

The nine SEC schools in the tournament are: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt - with a record five serving as regional hosts. The SEC also had the previous record of eight schools in the regionals, set in 2001 and matched last year.

The Atlantic Coast Conference - with Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia - and the Big 12 - with Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech - were next with six teams.

Miami is making its 32nd straight appearance to extend its NCAA record.

Eight teams will make their first NCAA tournament appearances: Birmingham Southern, College of Charleston, Jacksonville State, St. Bonaventure, Stony Brook, Texas Southern, UC Irvine and Youngstown State.

Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt received at-large bids to reach the regionals for the first time since 1980. George Mason will make its first tournament appearance since 1993.

The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played June 11-13. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 18 in Omaha, Neb.

Texas has been to the College World Series a record 30 times, and won five times (1949-50, '75, '83 and 2002). The Longhorns will take on Youngstown State (22-30) in its first game, and TCU and Oral Roberts will also play in the regional at Austin, Texas.

Rice is trying to join Texas (1949-50), Southern California (1970-74), Stanford (1987-88) and Louisiana State (1996-97) as repeat national champions. The Owls (43-12) play Texas Southern (18-33) in the first round of the Houston regional, which also includes Lamar and Texas A&M.

The 16 regional hosts, which were announced by the NCAA Division I baseball committee Sunday, are: Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, East Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Rice, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas and Virginia.

FSU, of course, is looking for its first World Series title.


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