16 teams remain in the NCAA's road to the College World Series. After 64 teams started the tournament last weekend, the field will be narrowed to its final eight teams by the time the beginning of next dawns upon us.
Only two of the eight Super Regionals will not have a team from either the SEC or the ACC, and only one Super Regional has two teams from the same conference. That means that while the SEC and the ACC are a cut above the other leagues from the regular season, there's no guarantee the leagues get anyone into the Super Regionals, save for the ACC (who has Boston College and Miami playing each other).
Here's a quick look at the best-of-three series that will be played throughout the United States between Friday and Sunday.
Gainesville Super Regional: (1) Florida vs. Florida State
The committee knew exactly what it was doing when it lined up Florida and Florida State in dueling regionals as top seeds. Florida is the overall #1 seed in the tournament and considered a front-runner for the national championship. Their road, however, now goes through a series against their hated rival in a best-of-three series that will be completely electric.
Florida State's resume took a little bit of a hit this year because they slid at the end of the season. Miami was the clear-cut best team in the ACC over the course of the entire year, and FSU's struggles down the stretch, which included series losses to both Duke and Miami coupled with non-conference losses to Jacksonville and Florida Gulf Coast, cost them a national seed.
Both teams went undefeated through their regionals. For Florida, this is a chance to own the state in their rivalry while putting the stamp on the fact that the Seminoles weren't who we maybe thought they could be. For FSU, it's a chance to show that they could step up to the challenge and weren't a team that fell apart at the end.
Baton Rouge Super Regional: (8) LSU vs. Coastal Carolina
There is nothing like a baseball series at LSU, a school that boasts arguably the greatest home field advantage in college baseball. Putting a postseason regional in the bayou brings a certain feel to it, and it gets even better when a trip to Omaha is on the line.
Opposing the Tigers is a Coastal Carolina team that had a case to host their regional.They won over 40 games in the regular season and dominated the Big South by going 21-3. They trampled the conference championship, but they were placed as the #2 seed in a regional hosted by NC State. There is absolutely no shock that the Chanticleers won in Raleigh, and there's no shock that the Wolfpack forced a deciding game on Monday.
Coastal Carolina won the regional, but Elliot Avant won the tournament.
College Station Super Regional: (4) Texas A&M vs. TCU
Once again, the committee knew what it was doing. TCU was one of only three teams not from the SEC or ACC to host a regional, and the Horned Frogs used a relatively weak regional to advance to the super regional. They destroyed Oral Roberts in the first round, then beat third-seeded Gonzaga in the second round. In the Regional Final, they faced Arizona State, the second seed and an at-large bid from a conference that wasn't itself this year.
They draw the SEC champion, a team that's really exploded onto the national scene as of late. Texas A&M had a regional that included Wake Forest and Minnesota, two teams that people thought were pretty good. Wake Forest snuck into the ACC Tournament but when on a run, and Minnesota was considered a northern team with some solid potential. But the Aggies destroyed Wake Forest by 20 after the Deacs hung a loss on the Gophers, and any hope for a competitive regional kind of went with it. There was no way the Gophers were going to be able to hang two straight losses on the host school.
So now it's an all-Texas regional that should provide some great fireworks.
Lubbock Super Regional: (5) Texas Tech vs. East Carolina
ECU is really the first team that makes you raise your eyebrows at getting into a Super Regional. They lost two straight in the American Athletic Conference Championship, something that dropped them both down into a three seed and into a tough regional with the defending national champions. They were pitted against a Bryant team in the first round that played well enough to earn a #2 seed based on the fact that they beat mediocre teams from very good leagues.
What we found in that regional was that ECU was a lot better than their conference tournament appearance showed, and they caught fire. Beating Virginia in the second round was huge because it set up a rematch in an elimination game between the Wahoos and William & Mary. In a localized game like that, the Tribe won the rematch to eliminate the defending national champs. Bryant, meanwhile, wound up being a good team from a bad conference that couldn't rise to playing better teams.
Unfortunately for ECU, though, they meet a Texas Tech team that feels like an unknown. In the midst of the ACC and SEC teams dominating the field, the Raiders creamed Fairfield and beat New Mexico. After taking some lumps against a Dallas Baptist team that was sneaky good, the Raiders eliminated their in-state competition.
Dallas Baptist winds up as the team that you really wonder what if about. If they hadn't lost to New Mexico in the first round, they would've been good enough to maybe beat Texas Tech, but playing all of those elimination games in a row is just asking way too much.
Coral Gables Super Regional: (3) Miami vs. Boston College
There are some who believe giving Miami the #3 overall seed in the tournament is too low. After all, there was a time during the season where the Hurricanes were the top-ranked team in the nation, and they had a compelling case for a seed better than the one they received.
On top of that, Miami drew a sneaky tough regional in the process. Florida Atlantic had a case to become a regional host, but they weren't going to bid anyways. Long Beach State is a traditional baseball powerhouse from the west coast, and Stetson is a Florida school, which means playing them adds a different level.
It turned into a three-team race really fast with the Canes, Dirtbags, and Owls, and even though Miami swept their way through the regional, it was incredibly competitive. Coral Gables, it seemed, could've made the case for the most competitive regional in the field, especially since Miami had to beat Long Beach State in 11 innings in the second round, then withstood blowing 8-1 lead to win on a walkoff, 9-8.
But if Miami has one thing to worry about, it's their opponent. Boston College won a regional where the top seed, Ole Miss, was eliminated in the first round by losing two straight. Tulane, the second seed, lost their first game, then had to win a game against a sneaky good Utah team in the second round elimination game. The Eagles, meanwhile, rode pitching to three straight wins and a trip to Miami.
Of all the Super Regionals, this one ranks alongside FSU-Florida and LSU-Coastal as having the potential for a couple of really competitive, well-played, hard-fought games.
Starkville Super Regional: (6) Mississippi State vs. Arizona
I had a feeling the Wildcats would win that regional because the other three teams in Lafayette just didn't seem right to me. Louisiana-Lafayette seemed like a good choice for a regional host, but Arizona still came out of a power conference that received little to no respect. While the Pac-12 wasn't the Pac-12 this year, one team from the west is always a lot better than people give them credit for. We saw that with Utah; Arizona managed to get the better draw.
As for Princeton and Sam Houston State, it just wasn't their time.
Then there's Mississippi State. I felt like the Bulldogs received a national seed because they were a good SEC team, but the committee gave them Cal State Fullerton as a trial by fire. When they beat the Titans, 4-1, in the second round, they proved their worth. They never had that rematch, which paved their way straight through to the Supers.
Louisville Super Regional: (2) Louisville vs. UC Santa Barbara
This regional would have been substantially better if the absolutely worst nightmare didn't happen to Vanderbilt. Losing a teammate in tragic fashion is the absolute worst, and it makes playing a game seem just a little bit less important. When the Commodores took a 15-1 loss on the chin from Xavier, I knew they weren't going to win the regional, but at the same time, they won just simply by showing up. I can't pray for that team enough after what they went through last weekend.
That opened the door for UC Santa Barbara to win the regional thanks to some help from the Musketeers. The opportunity opened for Xavier, though the Gauchos were simply too good when they met in the regional finals. They weren't going to beat that team twice.
And then there's Louisville. Louisville has the seed that some think Miami should've had. Their regional wasn't competitive enough for a team that was that good. Ohio State was good but not on their level. Wright State was good but not on their level, even though they did have a really sweet deer.
Columbia Super Regional: Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina
Hey, way to blow it, Clemson. The Tigers are the only national seed that didn't make the Super Regionals after they won the ACC by destroying Florida State. The Tigers got lucky enough in their run to the Regional Finals because they played Western Carolina twice, outscoring the Catamounts 39-13. The first time they met, Clemson won 24-10. After WCU beat Nebraska in an elimination game, they met again, with the Tigers winning 15-3. But Oklahoma State decided to eliminate the Tigers by beating them twice.
South Carolina, meanwhile, pulled off a regional win thanks despite losing their first game. After Rhode Island beat the Gamecocks, 5-4, in the opening game, South Carolina rattled off four straight wins, earning a Regional Final berth by beating Duke, 4-2, then demolishing URI in a statement game rematch, 23-2. At that point, it became elementary that UNC-Wilmington just couldn't keep up. With the offense rolling, South Carolina dropped two 10-run games to move on.
This is the only Super Regional not featuring a national seed, so South Carolina gets to play more games at home.