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The Road to Omaha: The 2021 NCAA Tournament Thread


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After a year off thanks to COVID-19, the Road to Omaha returns as 64 teams look to reach TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

 

The first step is naming the hosts for next weekend's regional round. 20 teams were chosen as potential host sites largely because of COVID-18 protocols. From that list of 20 teams, we have the 16 regional hosts. They are (in alphabetical order)..

 

-Arkansas

-Arizona

-East Carolina

-Florida

-Louisiana Tech

-Mississippi State

-Notre Dame

-Ole Miss

-Oregon

-South Carolina

-Stanford

-TCU

-Tennessee

-Texas

-Texas Tech

-Vanderbilt

 

Of the host schools, Texas is hosting for the 28th time (followed by Stanford at 19, South Carolina with 18 and Mississippi State with 15) while Louisiana Tech is the only first time host.

 

The field will be set tomorrow at Noon (ET). Some things to look at until then..

 

The Fate of Fairfield - As one of the weird anomalies created by COVID-19, a few conferences went ahead and decided not to play any non-conference games. The Metro Atlantic was one of them. Taking advantage of this decision was the Stags from Fairfield. They blitzed their way through the conference schedule with only one loss (to Siena in the first game of a double header). After blazing through the opening round, the Stags would get tripped up by Canisius in the double elimination portion of the conference tournament. The Stags would win the next two games, but lose to Rider in the finals.. Much like Colgate in basketball season, Fairfield (37-3) took advantage of the RPI and is right now number 2 in the RPI behind Arkansas. The Stags should be a shoo-in, but how will the NCAA see their record compared to others?

 

First Timer Party - Four schools will be making their debuts in this season's tournament: NJIT, Presbyterian, Norfolk State and Grand Canyon. NJIT won the America East tournament by default after weather ruined the last day of play (The Highlanders were the only unbeaten team left), Presbyterian sneaked in as the last seed in the Big South tournament and ran roughshod through it (including two wins over a good Campbell squad), Norfolk State won on a walk off single to take the MEAC title and Grand Canyon won their tournament by holding off UTRGV.

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Damn, this Arizona team has me really excited. This is their first outright conference championship in more than 30 years and they won with such a young team too. There are only two seniors on the entire squad.

 

And of course, Arizona softball is back in OKC. It's crazy to think that this is only their second WCWS appearance in the last ten years.

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Time for the brackets.. first off, the 16 seeded teams. These are the host schools for the upcoming regional round.

 

1. Arkansas

2. Texas

3. Tennessee

4. Vanderbilt

5. Arizona

6. Texas Christian

7. Mississippi State

8. Texas Tech

9. Stanford

10. Notre Dame

11. Old Dominion

12. Ole Miss

13. East Carolina

14. Oregon

15. Florida

16. Louisiana Tech

 

Super Regional #1 - Fayetteville vs.  Ruston

Fayetteville: Arkansas, Northeastern, Nebraska, NJIT

Ruston: Louisiana Tech, Alabama, NC State, Rider

 

Super Regional #2 - Lubbock vs. Palo Alto

Lubbock: Texas Tech, North Carolina, UCLA, Army

Palo Alto: Stanford, Nevada, UC Irvine, North Dakota State

 

Super Regional #3 - Tucson vs. Oxford

Tucson: Arizona, UC Santa Barbara, Oklahoma State, Grand Canyon

Oxford: Ole Miss, Florida State, Southern Miss, SE Missouri State

 

Super Regional #4 - Nashville vs. Greenville

Nashville: Vanderbilt, Indiana State, Georgia Tech, Presbyterian

Greenville: East Carolina, Maryland, Charlotte, Norfolk State

 

Super Regional #5 - Austin vs. Gainesville

Austin: Texas, Fairfield, Arizona State, Southern

Gainesville: Florida, South Alabama, Miami (Fla.), South Florida

 

Super Regional #6 - Starkville vs. South Bend

Starkville: Mississippi State, Campbell, Virginia Commonwealth, Samford

South Bend: Notre Dame, Michigan, UConn, Central Michigan

 

Super Regional #7 - Knoxville vs. Eugene

Knoxville: Tennessee, Liberty, Duke, Wright State

Eugene: Oregon, Louisiana State, Gonzaga, Central Connecticut State

 

Super Regional #8 - Fort Worth vs. Columbia

Fort Worth: Texas Christian, Dallas Baptist, Oregon State, McNeese State

Columbia: Old Dominion, Virginia, South Carolina, Jacksonville

 

(Last Four in were Michigan, Alabama, North Carolina and UC Santa Barbara while the First Four Out were Baylor, Pittsburgh, Georgia and Ball State. These schools in the First Four Out list could potentially replace a school if they cannot play due to COVID-19)

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Glad my USF Bulls won the conference tournament, but sucks we get sent to Gainesville AGAIN.  I get its close to home, but can they at least go elsewhere?  

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Day 1 is in the books.. Here are some highlights:

 

Bulls on Parade: South Florida is red hot right now. After running the table to win the American tournament, the Bulls continue to make magic by upsetting Florida to open play in Gainesville. USF looks to keep rolling as they take on Miami of Florida today.

 

Walk It Off: Two games ended in walk off fashion. Arizona State used a single to beat Fairfield while Tennessee had more of a flair for the dramatic  in their walk off win..

 

Newbie Watch: Of the four newcomers in the tournament, none of them won. NJIT and Grand Canyon provided the biggest scares as the Highlanders jumped to an early lead on top overall seed Arkansas before the Razorbacks put their foot down while the Antelopes started fast against in state foe Arizona before the Wildcats took care of business. The others? Norfolk State  didn't do too bad against East Carolina in a 8-5 loss and Presbyterian had to go up against one half of the best pitching duo in the nation in Kumar Rocker and was promptly smacked by Rocker (9 K's) and the Vandy Boys in a 10-0 romp.

 

Football or Baseball?: A couple of games had some football like scores as Oregon and Charlotte won their games 13-10. Also piling on the runs were Louisiana Tech (18-2 rout of Rider) and VCU (19-4 massacre of Campbell).

 

Today's Televised Games

12 Noon (ET) Games:

-Jacksonville vs. Virginia (Columbia Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPNU

-(15) Florida vs. South Alabama (Gainesville Regional - Elimination Game) - SEC Network

-Michigan vs. Central Michigan (South Bend Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPN2

-Duke vs. Wright State (Knoxville Regional - Elimination Game) - ACC Network

 

3 PM/4 PM (ET) Games:

-UCLA vs. Army (Lubbock Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPN2

-Central Connecticut State vs. Louisiana State (Eugene Regional - Elimination Game) - SEC Network

-Miami [Fla.] vs. South Florida (Gainesville Regional - Semifinal) - ESPNU

 

Early Evening Games:

-(12) Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Oxford Regional - Semifinal) - ESPN2 [6 PM ET]

-Arizona State at (2) Texas (Austin Regional - Semifinal) - Longhorn Network [7 PM ET]

-Georgia Tech at (4) Vanderbilt (Nashville Regional - Semifinal) - ESPNU [7 PM ET]

-(11) Old Dominion at South Carolina (Columbia Regional - Semifinal) - SEC Network [7 PM ET]

 

Late Games:

-(8) Texas Tech vs. North Carolina (Lubbock Regional - Semifinal) - ESPN2 [9 PM ET]

-(14) Oregon vs. Gonzaga (Eugene Regional - Semifinal) - ESPNU [10 PM ET]

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Day 2 is in the books..

 

The Stopped Sixteen: Of the teams eliminated yesterday, there were 12 #4 seeds, 3 #3 seeds (Northeastern, Nevada and Michigan) and 1 #1 seed. That 1 seed?

 

Gutless Gators: After getting knocked off by South Florida, the Gators had to play South Alabama and the Gators went limp. The Jaguars exploded with a 10 run inning to give them a comfortable lead in route to a 19-1 blasting of the 15th seed. This loss is considered the worst loss by an SEC school ever.. yeah, that bad.

 

Football or Baseball? - Part Two: South Alabama wasn't the only school dropping double digits yesterday. Southern Miss scored three touchdowns in a 21-0 beating of SE Missouri State; Maryland scored two touchdowns and a safety in their 16-0 rout of Norfolk State;  Campbell kicked a game winning field goal in their 16-13 win over Samford.. but it was Notre Dame who told everyone to hold their beer in their 26-3 massacre of UConn.

 

Today on Television:

-South Carolina vs. Virginia (Columbia Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPNU [12 Noon ET]

-Southern Miss vs. Florida State (Oxford Regional - Elimination Game) - ACC Network [2 PM ET]

-UCLA vs. North Carolina (Lubbock Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPNU [3 PM ET]

-Louisiana Tech vs. Alabama (Ruston Regional - Elimination Game) - SEC Network [3 PM ET]

-Gonzaga vs. Louisiana State (Eugene Regional - Elimination Game) - ESPNU [6 PM ET]

(Remaining games TBD)

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The final day of regional play is upon us..

 

Half of the Super Regional field is set with one series set as East Carolina heads to Nashville to play Vanderbilt while NC State, Texas Tech, Arizona, Texas, Notre Dame and Tennessee all moved on yesterday.

 

The remaining eight slots are up for grabs today beginning with the games in Starkville. Thanks to the weather,  they had only one game - Campbell vs. VCU - and that was an offensive explosion as the Camels won 19-10. They'll take on Mississippi State in the first game at 12 Noon ET. Should the Camels win, there's one more game. If the Bulldogs win, they move on.

 

Weather also played havoc in Gainesville as South Alabama lead South Florida in the 5th when the game was postponed. They'll finish that game up today

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It isn't men's baseball, but shoutout to James Madison's women's softball team. Regardless of the final outcome, they gave number one Oklahoma a series and made history as the first unranked team to make it to the semis.

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Very true. James Madison was very impressive for an unseeded team. Despite their loss, I got to tip my cap to them. BTW, Oklahoma and Florida State will meet in the WCWS Finals beginning tonight.

 

On the men's side, 15 of the 16 spots in the Super Regional round are set. One game remains: Old Dominion vs. Virginia in Columbia, SC. That game will be played today and the winner there gets Dallas Baptist in the next round.

 

The dates for the Super Regional round were also announced today..

 

Series Starting Friday:

-NC State at (1) Arkansas

-(13) East Carolina at (4) Vanderbilt

-(9) Stanford at (8) Texas Tech

-(12)Ole Miss at (5) Arizona

 

Series Starting Saturday:

-South Florida at (2) Texas

-Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia (at Columbia, SC)

-Louisiana State at (3) Tennessee

-(10) Notre Dame at (7) Mississippi State

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