Breaking Down the Gainesville Regional

Florida earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the committee didn't do the Gators many favors. A red-hot Georgia Tech offense, coming off four wins to sweep through the ACC Tournament, will head to Gainesville this weekend for the double elimination Regional. Florida will open its Regional by hosting Bethune-Cookman on Friday at 7 p.m.

It didn't take long for the veteran Florida team to forget about earning the top seed in the tournament. The team got together before practice on Monday to watch the selection show, but head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said the group was excited about the ranking but also understands it doesn't mean much.

That's the benefit he has of a veteran team that made it to the College World Series finals last season.

"It's a number next to the University of Florida on the TV," O'Sullivan said. "It means nothing to me at this point.

"This team has enough experience to know whether you're the No. 1 national seed, No. 8 national seed or just getting into the tournament, it's anybody's game now."

Florida hosts a familiar foe in Bethune-Cookman on Friday to open the NCAA Tournament. The Gators recorded two wins—8-6 and 10-1—over the Wildcats during midweek games this season.

Bethune-Cookman senior right-hander Rayan Gonzalez is expected to get the ball for the Wildcats. Gonzalez is 9-1 with a 1.96 ERA, recording 79 strikeouts and 17 walks in 87.1 innings pitched. Gonzalez has allowed just seven extra base hits this season, and all of them have been doubles.

Florida faced Gonzalez during the 2011 season, and knocked the right-hander out after four innings where he allowed six hits, six runs, two walks and recorded three strikeouts.

The Wildcats offense hit just 20 home runs this season, and ten of those came from Anthony Stokes.

"They're very good and won their tournament," O'Sullivan said. "They're in the postseason every year. It's one of those four seeds where you know you can't play poorly. We're familiar with them, but they are of us as well."

The first game of the Gainesville Regional will be between Georgia Tech and College of Charleston at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The Yellow Jackets caught fire at the right time to win four games and the title at the ACC Tournament. Before the tournament, it wasn't good for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech lost its final three conference series to Miami, Virginia and Clemson before sweeping through the tournament.

The Yellow Jackets bring plenty of offense to Gainesville. Five regular starters are hitting over .300, and sluggers Jake Davies and Daniel Palka have combined for 25 home runs—five fewer than Florida's duo of Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino. The two Georgia Tech hitters do have 17 more RBIs than Tucker and Zunino.

Left fielder Brandon Thomas is the leading hitter with a .352 batting average. Leadoff hitter and center fielder Kyle Wren, son of Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren, leads the team with 55 runs scored.

Third baseman Sam Dove hits second and is an important piece to the offense with a .338 batting average.

"We recruited a lot of those players in the Atlanta area," O'Sullivan said. "They just won their tournament. The ACC got the most bids as far as hosting, so it's a very competitive league. I spent nine years in that league (as pitching coach at Clemson), so I'm fully aware of how competitive it is. Georgia Tech is good. They're playing well right now."

College of Charleston was a bubble team coming into the announcement of the bracket, but the Cougars snuck into the field out of the Southern Conference.

Marty Gantt leads the Cougars offense with a .375 batting average and 44 RBI. There are only two other players on the team—Brandon Murray and Brandon Glazer—that are hitting above .300.

All three of the Cougars starting pitchers—Christian Powell, Matt Pegler and Josh Renfro—have ERAs under 3.70. Powell has the best numbers, allowing just 81 hits in 90.1 innings to go with 73 strikeouts.

"I don't know a whole lot, but I know they've got good players," O'Sullivan said. "The SoCon is probably the most underrated conference in the country. We found that out in a hurry when we played Samford. It's a very, very good league. It's an offensive league."

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