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Ranking the Toughest Regionals in the NCAA Tournament

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

The NCAA Tournament Field of 64 was released on Monday, and as always, there were a few surprises. Fairfield snuck in tournament after a 37-3 year in the MAAC, Mississippi State and Texas Tech snagged top eight seeds, and LSU and Paul Mainieri will have shot at an NCAA Tournament run. Of course, some Regionals are tougher than others, and we've got them all ranked for you.

16. Austin

Number two overall seed, Texas, received the most favorable draw of any host. Arizona State at 16-14 in the Pac-12 had just one series win over teams from the field of 64 (Oregon State). On top of that, the Sun Devils have had a host of pitching injuries. Fairfield is an interesting at-large selection (37-3 overall). The Stags make for a great story, but Texas has them completely outmatched.

15. Starkville

Mississippi State (7) not only has to be happy to receive a top eight seed, but Bulldogs fans should be ecstatic about the draw they received. VCU, the automatic bid from the Atlantic Ten, has not won a series against a tournament team and has only five wins against teams in the field. Campbell's best series win is against Liberty. Mississippi State will be heavily favored in this Regional.

14. Nashville

Fourth-seeded Vanderbilt is joined by Georgia Tech, Indiana State, and Presbyterian. Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin started his coaching career at Presbyterian, but the Commodores should have no trouble with that first-round matchup. Georgia Tech recently made the ACC Tournament semifinals, but is only 2-3 in series down the stretch (including a series loss to Kennesaw State). Indiana State did have a nice series split at Tennessee.

13. Greenville

While ECU fans might have been hoping for a higher seed than 13, the Pirates' Regional sets up really nicely for a Super Regional appearance. The Pirates have already swept Charlotte on the year. Maryland is a little bit of a wildcard from the Big Ten. Don't be surprised if the Terps appear in the Regional final.

12. Lubbock

Texas Tech (8) was not projected to be a top eight seed by most national media, but throw that out the window because the committee has spoken. UCLA is an interesting team that has a high ceiling but has struggled with consistency. The Bruins have lost series to San Francisco, Cal Poly, Washington, and Cal. North Carolina escaped the blood bath of the ACC at 27-25. Army did chase Lehigh stater and MLB Draft prospect, Mason Black, after just a few innings in the Patriot League Championship Series, so the Black Knights won't be an easy out.

11. Eugene

Oregon (14) was almost guaranteed to be joined by fellow Pacific Northwest team, Gonzaga. The Zags just announced that Saturday starter, Gabriel Hughes, will be out for the Regional, which makes Oregon's path a good amount easier. LSU is an intriguing three seed. The Tigers will surely be playing with emotion as Paul Mainieri makes his swan song.

10. Fort Worth

TCU (6) is paired up against a solid McNeese team as its four seed. Oregon State is another two seed where it's really difficult to nail down their best series win. The Beavers have taken care of business when they should have and lost all of their series against better teams. Kevin Abel will be one of the best arms in the tournament. Dallas Baptist also has a host of solid arms, and it will be interesting to see if Abel gets the start for the Beavers against DBU.

9. Gainesville

Florida (15) was the preseason number one team for a reason. The Gators are one of the most talented teams in the country and could easily put together a deep tournament run. They'll have to get past Miami, who has already beaten the Gators in Gainesville this season. South Alabama won the Sun Belt, but the league was the weakest it's been in years. This Regional feels like a tossup between Florida and Miami.

8. Fayetteville

The Hogs (1) weren't done any favors by the committee. Nebraska, the Big Ten champions, is one of the toughest two seeds in the bracket. Northeastern (Colonial champion) and NJIT (America East champion) are a little less intimidating.

7. Stanford

Stanford (9) seems to have a fair Regional. The Cardinal will host UC Irvine, the Big West champion. Stanford beat the Anteaters in three out of four games earlier this season. Nevada from the Mountain West is an interesting three seed. With over 11 hits per game, the Wolfpack is fifth in the country in that statistic. We'll see how that plays in a not-so-offensive ballpark in Sunken Diamond.

6. Ruston

Louisiana Tech (16) made a run to the C-USA Tournament final to earn a top 16 seed. Their reward? They get an NC State team that is one of the hottest teams in the country as their two seed. Alabama as a three seed is a little bit of a wildcard. The Tide faced one of the toughest schedules in the country but only won 14 SEC games.

5. South Bend

It's safe to say that most of country was surprised when Notre Dame (10), the runaway ACC Champions, didn't earn a top eight seed. Their RPI didn't do them any favors. Notre Dame will have an intriguing four seed in Central Michigan (MAC Champions). UConn, winner of ten of its last eleven games, is a formidable two seed. The Huskies are battled tested, having traveled to Texas Tech, Virginia, and Southern Miss this year already. The third-seeded Michigan Wolverines are lacking the star power that led to a National Runner-Up finish in 2019 but should still be competitive in this Regional.

4. Columbia

Old Dominion (11) will be a traveling one seed as the Monarchs head to South Carolina for their Regional. South Carolina has the arms to make an Omaha run, and when you add in Virginia, one of the hottest teams in the country, this Regional has three legitimate Omaha contenders.

3. Oxford

Ole Miss (12) received one of the toughest Regionals in the country. Southern Miss is allowing just 3.9 runs per game (good for ninth in the country), and Florida State was under-seeded as a three seed. This Regional is a three-team race.

2. Tucson

In a normal year, Arizona (5) would likely not be playing host to Oklahoma State as a two seed. The Cowboys' run to the Big 12 Championship game pushed their RPI up to 14, and Oklahoma State could very well be hosting. UCSB has shown they can go toe-to-toe with UCLA and Oregon from the Pac-12 (though they were 1-6 in those games). Grand Canyon has already beaten Arizona once this season and went 0-2-1 in a competitive series at Oklahoma State. GCU is one of the toughest four seeds in the tournament.

1. Knoxville

Speaking of tough four seeds, Wright State in Tennessee's (3) Regional might be the most under-seeded team in the entire tournament. The RPI of 27 from a non-major conference normally should get Wright State at least a three seed. Meanwhile, the two seed in the Knoxville Regional is Duke, the ACC Champion and a team that is on an absolute tear right now. Liberty, the three seed, has seven wins against teams in the field of 64. This is a tough Regional.


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