With this being Boston College's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in seven years, this is likely going to be the first exposure for many fans to the setup of the college baseball championship drive. You've heard, many times, that it's double elimination, but where and when you win or lose impacts where and when you play your next game. It's nothing like what you're probably used to, so it's worth explaining.
-As discussed yesterday, all regionals are four-team quadrants with double elimination play. They're played at a field hosted by a school that was awarded via a bid, even if they weren't a national seed.
-National seeds are given to the top eight ranked teams. National rankings help determine who has "home field advantage throughout the tournament." If a team is a national seed, they automatically host a Super Regional.
-Since everything is double elimination, a team can lose up to four games and still win the national championship. Regional bracket winners play off in best-of-three Super Regionals, with the winners moving onto the College World Series. The College World Series championship is a best-of-three series.
-So to break it down, each region of four teams plays double elimination until there's a winner. Winners face off in Super Regionals, which are best of three. Winners from there advance to Omaha for the College World Series, where they're broken up into two brackets. The two brackets then play double elimination until we have two final teams - who then play a best-of-three series.
Before we even think about Omaha or even a Super Regional, there's the matter of playing upwards of seven game per regional over the coming weekend. On Friday, Boston College will play Tulane at 4 PM in Game 1, with Ole Miss and Utah playing at approximately 8 PM in Game 2.
The losers of Games 1 and 2 will play an elimination game in Game 3 at 2 PM on Saturday. The winners will play at approximately 6 PM in Game 4. That's pretty basic stuff so far.
Sunday is where things get dicey. The winner of Game 4 is the only undefeated team left in the bracket, automatically advancing to Game 6. Before they play that game, they need to determine who is left among teams facing elimination.
On Sunday, that means the winner of the first elimination game and the loser of the first winner's bracket game will play at 2 PM in an elimination game. Whoever wins that game is rewarded with a trip to the Regional Finals - later that day at approximately 6 PM.
If a team loses one game at any point on Friday or Saturday (and isn't eliminated), they'll need to win twice on Sunday in order to have a shot at winning the regional. That's where victories in the first two games are at an absolute premium. Should the loser's bracket winner pick up a victory in that Sunday evening game, they'll play a winner-take-all game on Monday.
So if you're charting the course for the Eagles, hope for a win in the first two games, especially in the first game. A loss in the first game on Friday means a team needs to win three games in two days in order to force the winner-take-all game on Monday.
Last year, no teams that lost their first game of the tournament advanced to a Super Regional. Only one team that lost their first game managed to rally to force a deciding game in their regional - Dallas Baptist. They were the top seed in a regional that they hosted, and they lost to fourth-seeded VCU (who beat them inthe first round), 3-1, in the last game, after winning three in a row in two days.
Six additional teams rallied from an opening game loss to make the regional finals, but none of them forced a deciding game.