NCAA Baseball 2016 Tournament Breakdown

The bracket is set and the 64-team chase toward Omaha begins this week. For college baseball fans, this is like Christmas time. Two conferences anchored down a sizeable number of the at-large bids, with nine coming from the ACC and six from the SEC. Of the overall top eight national seeds, seven came from either the ACC or SEC.
The top eight national seeds left little to refute, with Florida taking the overall No. 1 ranking. ACC powerhouse’s Louisville and Miami (FL) followed the Gators at two and three with Texas A&M rounding out the top four. Texas Tech provided the lone exception to the ACC and SEC supremacy, representing the Big 12 at fifth. Mississippi State, Clemson and LSU rounded out the list.
Clemson played its way into a regional host after winning an 18-13 slugfest over Florida State in the ACC Championship game. The Tigers likely took Florida Atlantic’s host position after the Owls fell early in the Conference USA Championship.
Beginning in the Florida quadrant, the No. 1 seeds have a great shot of advancing to a Super Regional next week, but the No. 2 seeds won’t make things easy. Southern Miss broke Rice’s unbelievable 20-year run of either winning the conference outright or winning the tournament at the end of the year. The Golden Eagles spent much of the regular season at the top of CUSA, slipping to a third place finish after being swept during the final weekend.
Coastal Carolina is another No. 2 buzz saw out of the Big South, winning 10 in a row coming into the tournament. The Chants have several wins over teams in the field of 64 including defending champ Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest and Ohio State.
Look for at least one No. 2 seed to advance to the Super Regionals next week, with two moving on not out of the question.
In the Texas A&M quadrant, the No. 1 seeds all look poised to advance to the Supers. Joining the Aggies as region hosts are Texas Tech, Virginia and TCU. The Horned Frogs held off a furious charge by West Virginia in the Big 12 championship, winning 11-10. Expect little resistance to the top seed’s chances of moving forward.
In Louisville’s quadrant, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and fellow ACC foe Clemson round out the top seeds. Louisville looks to bounce back after a shortcoming in the ACC Championship and gets to right the ship at the friendly confines of Jim Patterson Stadium, where the Cardinals have lost only once this season in 34 outings.
Duke makes its first visit to a regional sine 1961, but lands in 42-game winner South Carolina’s bracket. The good news for the Blue Devils, they face No. 2 UNC-Wilmington to open the tournament. The bad news, they will likely have to defeat the Gamecocks twice to advance.
Rounding out the final quadrant with Miami (FL) is Mississippi State, UL-Lafayette and Ole Miss. The Ragin’ Cajuns represent as the Sun Belt champs, Sam Houston State won the Southland Conference and Princeton won the Ivy League. Arizona closed out the season on a six-game winning streak, sweeping Hawaii.
Perhaps one of the biggest sleeper cells of the entire tournament sits in this quadrant in No. 4 Utah. The Utes won the Pac-12 title after defeating Washington 21-7, making their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2009.
Miami couldn’t be pleased with No. 2 FAU falling in its bracket after splitting with the Owls in the regular season. FAU knocked off then No. 1 Miami, 4-3, but fell 5-4 two weeks later to the Hurricanes. The Owls were poised to be regional top seed, but came up short to LA Tech in the CUSA Championship. Regardless of their run in the tournament, the Owls have a great shot of moving on to the field of 16.
A few of the intriguing first round matchups pits No. 1 N.C. State vs. No. 4 Navy. The Midshipmen enter winning 42 games on the season, but lacks a power opponent on its schedule. With a 2.78 team ERA, the Wolfpack will have its work cut out at the plate.
No. 2 Tulane and No. 3 Boston College should be a good matchup in a battle of AAC vs. ACC. The Green Wave finished 39-19 but lost five of its last ten to close the season, three coming at the hands of Houston in the final regular season series and in the AAC Championship. Tulane swings at a .267 clip with only one player hitting over .300 on the season. The pitching staff brings a combination of two sub-three ERAs and two over. However, all four starters boast winning records.
Boston College tries to make the best of its first trip to the NCAA tournament in seven years with an upset to open the event. The Eagles fly where Michael Strem and Logan Hoggarth take them with a nice collection of supporting cast close behind. Mike King likely takes the ball in the first game of the tournament, working a 7-4 record this season with a 3.15 ERA over 91 1/3 innings of work.
No. 2 Cal State Fullerton and No. 3 Louisiana Tech pose a good first round matchup as the Titans open with one of the hottest teams entering the tournament in the Bulldogs. The Titans have a mighty one-two punch in the order with Dalton Blaser and Tanner Pinkston hitting over .330. The Bulldogs make their first stop in the NCAA tournament in 29 years, but earned the right to make CUSA a four-team league. LA Tech brings four players who hit over .300 with Raphael Gladu’s .365 topping the charts.
At the conclusion of the weekend, expect at least 10 of the 16 teams advancing to the Super Regionals being No. 1 seeds. While the twos will fill the remaining positions, don’t be surprised to see at least one No.3 seed work a magical upset.