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NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament Preview: Part One

 Julian Guilarte  |    May 30th, 2024 10:14am EDT

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NCAA Division I Baseball 64-team Tournament Regions Released: What to Watch For 

The conference tournaments were finished by May 26, and the 32 automatic bids were decided. The NCAA Division I Baseball bracket was filled out with the other 32 teams on the selection show aired on ESPN 2 on May 27.

Four teams are in each region, and the format is double elimination from Friday, May 31, to Monday, June 3. The winner of each region will advance to the Super Regionals, a best two-out-of-three series with the higher-ranked team hosting. The winners of the Super Regional will go to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series and be in the final eight.

The regional format began in 1954 and expanded to 64 teams in 1999. The College World Series was founded in 1947 in Omaha.

All game times will be posted in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. 

Region One

Tennessee is the overall one seed and will host the Regional at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville. Tennessee leads a strong SEC, which sent 11 teams to the tournament.

Teams:

No.1 Tennessee Volunteers—Tennessee won the SEC title game against LSU 4-3. This is the fifth time Tennessee has won the SEC tournament and its 14th appearance in the Regionals. The Volunteers have appeared in the College World Series six times but have never won.

No.2 Southern Miss Golden Eagles– Southern Miss won the Sun Belt Conference title game against Georgia Southern 14-11. This is the seventh time they won their conference and their 19th appearance in the Regionals. They made the College World Series in 2009 and did not win it.

No.3 Indiana Hoosiers—Indiana was eliminated by Nebraska in the semi-finals of the Big 10 tournament with a 10-4 loss. Indiana has won the Big 10 tournament four times and lost in its lone College World Series appearance in 2013.

No.4 Northern Kentucky Norse–  Northern Kentucky won the Horizon Tournament for the first time, 23-5 against Youngstown State. They have never appeared in the College World Series.

Player to Watch- Tennessee third baseman Billy Amick is the 15th-ranked draft prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings. In 205 at-bats, he has 19 home runs, 53 RBI, and an OPS of 1.051. He hit a three-run home run against LSU in the SEC Championship.

Schedule: Friday, May 31.

Southern Miss. (41-18) will play Indiana (32-24-1) at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.

Tennessee (50-11) will play Northern Kentucky. (35-22) at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.

 

Region 16

East Carolina will host the Regional in Greenville, N.C., at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The Pirates were the 16th overall seed and the last team awarded a Region.

Teams:

No.1 East Carolina Pirates— ECU lost in the finals of the American Conference 12-2 against Wichita State. ECU has won their conference 13 times but has never made it to the College World Series.

No.2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons— Wake Forest lost in the ACC semi-final 9-6 to Florida State. However, Wake Forest still had the best game of the ACC Tournament, beating North Carolina in a 9-5, 12-inning battle. They have won the ACC Tournament six times and made the College World Series three times, including last year in 2023. Wake Forest won the College World Series once in 1955.

No. 3 VCU Rams— VCU beat Richmond 13-7 in the Atlantic 10 Championship. VCU has won their conference 10 times but has never made the College World Series.

No. 4 Evansville Purple Aces—Evansville won the Missouri Valley Conference Championship 8-6 against Indiana State. Evansville has won its conference four times and has never played in the College World Series.

Players to Watch:

Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz hit the go-ahead home run and game-tying double against North Carolina. Kurtz is the fourth-ranked prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings.

Wake Forest right-handed pitcher Chase Burns struck out 15 batters in six scoreless innings against North Carolina and is the seventh-ranked prospect in MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings.

East Carolina right-handed pitcher Trey Yesavage is the 11th-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings. He’s the third-ranked pitcher; his stats are 86 innings, 139 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.09.

Schedule: Friday, May 31.

East Carolina (43-15) will play Evansville (35-23) at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.

Wake Forest (38-20) will play VCU (37-21) at 6 p.m. on ESPN+.

Super Regionals- The Knoxville and Greenville Regionals winners will play in the Super Regionals starting on June 7 or 8.

 

Region Nine

Oklahoma is the ninth overall seed and will host the Regional in Norman at L. Dale Mitchell Ballpark.

Teams:

No.1 Oklahoma Sooner— Oklahoma lost 9-3 to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma has won its conference tournament four times and has made the College World Series 10 times. The Sooners have won the College World Series twice and lost in the finals once against Ole Miss in 2022.

No.2 Duke Blue Devils— Duke won the ACC Championship in a dominating 16-4 win against Florida State. They also won the ACC Championship against NC State in 2021. They have made the College World Series three times but have never won it. Duke is one of eight teams representing the ACC, the second-most in the Regionals.

No.3 UConn Huskies— UConn was eliminated by Georgetown in the Big East Tournament. UConn has won their conference six times and has made the College World Series five times.

No.4 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles— Oral Roberts beat Northern Colorado 11-4 and won the Summit League Conference Tournament for the third time. It was the 21st time in their history that they won their conference tournament. They have made the College World Series twice, including last season.

Player to Watch- Duke hopes to get a boost with the return of left-handed pitcher Jonathan Santucci. Santucci has thrown 56 innings, 86 strikeouts, and posted an ERA of 3.54. He hasn’t pitched since May 5, when he hurt his rib on his non-throwing side. He threw a bullpen in the ACC Tournament and is practicing with Duke this week.

Schedule: Friday, May 31.

Duke (39-18) will play. UConn (32-23) at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.

Oklahoma (37-19) will play Oral Roberts (27-30-1) at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

 

Region Eight

Florida State is the eighth overall seed and is hosting the Regional in Tallahassee at Dick Howser Stadium.

No.1 Florida State Seminoles—Florida State lost the ACC final to Duke, its lone loss of the ACC Tournament. Florida State has won the ACC Tournament eight times and made the College World Series 23 times. They have never won it and have finished in second place three times.

No.2 Alabama Crimson Tide—Alabama lost 10-5 to South Carolina in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Alabama has won the SEC tournament six times, made the College World Series five times, and finished second twice.

No.3 UCF Knights— UCF lost 10-1 to eventual champion Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament semi-finals. Although UCF has won its conference six times, it has never made the College World Series.

No.4 Stetson Hatters— The Hatters won the ASUN Conference Tournament with a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State. They have won their conference nine times and have never made it to the College World Series.

Players to Watch: 

Florida State third baseman Cam Smith is the 21st-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings. He hit a home run in the ACC Championship vs Duke.

Florida State right fielder James Tibbs III is the 22nd-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 150 Draft Rankings. Tibbs III had one home run and six RBI in the ACC Tournament.

Schedule: Friday, May 31.

Florida St. (42-15) will play Stetson (40-20) at noon on the ACCN.

Alabama (33-22) will play UCF (35-19) at 6 p.m. on ESPN+.

Super Regionals: The winners of the Norman and Tallahassee Regionals will play in the Super Regionals.

All games can be found on WatchESPN.

This article will be extended into four parts with four regions per part. The following article is part II. 

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Julian Guilarte