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The 2015 NCAA Baseball Regional Primer #RoadToOmaha

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
In case you were not paying attention, the B1G made a lot of waves this year on the basepaths. Five teams will be representing the conference in the NCAA Tournament and starting Friday, the long trip to Omaha will begin. Unfortunately, it's not really a smooth path and there are a lot of teams you probably have never heard of. To really give you a sense of what to expect, DJ, myself, and OTE Regular Doc1028 drew up some information on the favorites, the almost favorites, and what you should know as a B1G fan who didn't watch baseball this year. Consider this a crash course in College Baseball for 2015. Good times, right? We've divided things up by Super pairings below and given some background information for you to take on.

LOS ANGELES REGIONAL (Host: UCLA)

Friday, May 29

Game 1: No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 2 Ole Miss, 6 PM (Central, because of course), ESPN3

Game 2: No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 4 CSU Bakersfield 10 PM ,ESPNU

LAKE ELSINORE REGIONAL (Host: UC Santa Barbara)

Friday, May 29

Game 1: No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 2 Southern California  6 PM, ESPN3

Game 2: No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 4 San Diego State 9 PM, ESPN3

Who should make the CWS?

UCLA.  They are the top seed overall in the tournament and in the second regional anyone from 1-4 could make it which would potentially give them a very enticing matchup in a best of 3 series.  UCLA has only lost a 3 game series once all season and that was to a very good Oregon team.  The 2013 champs have a very good chance of taking it home again.

Who could make the CWS?

Literally take your pick of the four teams in the second regional: UCSB, SDSU, Virginia, and USC are all very good teams.  UCLA has won the rivalry with USC this year but I wouldn't count them out.  Maryland _should_ beat Ole Miss, but I don't know if the pitching depth is there to take down UCLA twice as they did to South Carolina last year in the USCe regional.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

The UCSB regional is probably one of the most brutal regionals of the CWS along with maybe the Dallas Baptist (who?) regional, so obviously that means it will make for some outstanding baseball watching.  Ole Miss shouldn't be in this tournament, so if you like some B1G on SEC bashing, Maryland vs. Ole Miss should be the game it happens in.
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STILLWATER REGIONAL (Host: Oklahoma State)

Friday, May 29

Game 1: No. 3 Oral Roberts vs. No. 2 Arkansas, 12 PM, SEC Network

Game 2: No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 St. John's (NY) 6 PM ESPN3

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL (Host: Missouri State)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 2 Iowa 12 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Missouri State vs. No. 4 Canisius 5 PM, ESPN3

Who should make the CWS?

It really is a tossup between Missouri State and Oklahoma State. It's been an extremely good year for the Bears and they will come into the tournament on a 16 game win streak, longest in the nation currently courtesy of Illinois losing in the B1G tournament. The only question everyone has is how good are they really? They legitimately have two aces, though, in Matt Hall and Jon Harris. That can take you places. The Cowboys had an up and down year, but they did finish second in a generally deep Big XII. Oh, and they beat TCU in a three game set. I'm guessing we see them in the Supers.

Who could make the CWS?

Iowa. Don't sleep on the Hawks. I was personally hopeful that Heller's kids would host a regional, but some late season losses prevented that from happening. Still, Iowa is not a team to be trifled with. While the offense can be suspect, the front line pitching from Calvin Mathews and Blake Hickman could take this team far. Add in a good defense and all you need is some production on offense.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

You all really need to appreciate all that is happening for Iowa. Obviously I am not a huge Iowa fan. It's part of my job as a Nebraska fan, but if you can't tip your hat to Heller and Co., you don't like baseball. Enjoy that run, and don't overlook some great baseball in both regionals. I particularly am curious if former Nebraska skipper Dave Van Horn can take an extremely hot Razorback team far. Also, Andrew Benintendi is probably worth the price of admission.

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CORAL GABLES REGIONAL (Host: Miami)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Columbia vs. No. 2 East Carolina 12 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Miami (FL) vs. No. 4 FIU 6 PM, ESPN

DALLAS REGIONAL (Host: Dallas Baptist)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Oregon State 1:30 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Dallas Baptist vs. No. 4 VCU 7 PM, ESPN3

Who should make the CWS?

Miami. The Hurricanes are arguably the bets team in baseball and boast the top RPI in the land. Sure, that doesn't always mean that they'll waltz in, but they've gone 15 of their last 16 and won't mess around. Oh, and they have the best home record in baseball and don't have to leave Coral Gables until Omaha, so there's that.

Who could make the CWS?

I know a lot of people are sleeping on Dallas Baptist. After all, it's Dallas Baptist. Here's the thing, they boast the #2 RPI in the nation, are 42-13 (!!!), went 8-8 against RPI Top 50, and are better than you think. They don't exactly have an easy out with perennially good Oregon State, a suddenly hot Texas, and A10 Champ VCU (who, if you remember, swept our friends from Maryland). It's not an easy path, but they've just gone out and won a lot of games. That means something.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

I have no love for Texas sports, but I just want to take a moment to talk about the Longhorn baseball team under Augie Garrido. The longtime Fullerton player and coach and now longtime Longhorn coach is a boss. Since 1997 when Augie took over, they've only missed the tournament four times, have gotten to Omaha eight times, and have won it all three times. He surpassed 1900 wins this season for his overall career, and to say he's an elder statesman of baseball just doesn't seem to do him justice. If there is a team that could go on a run despite being less than great all season, it's an Augie led Texas team.

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TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL (Host: Florida State)

Friday, May 29

Game 1: No. 3 Auburn vs. No. 2 College of Charleston, 11 AM, ESPN3

Game 2: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Mercer, 5 PM, ESPN3

GAINESVILLE REGIONAL (Host: Florida)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 South Florida vs. No. 2 Florida Atlantic 12 PM ESPN3

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 Florida A&M 6 PM, SEC Network

Who should make the CWS?

Florida. They are SEC champs after taking down Vandy in the tournament and they boast the third best RPI in the nation. If we're talking about guys probably worth the price of admission, it's gotta be AJ Puk who absolutely crushed Arkansas - a team I mentioned earlier - in the SEC tournament. He has a 12.41 K/9 this season, and will probably keep that going.

Who could make the CWS?

Florida State. Oh, and my personal favorite, College of Charleston. I fully admit I don't know much about every single team in the nation because there's only so much coverage for the sport. Still, I love the numbers on Charleston, including an 8-4 record against RPI Top 50. If you're looking to take a flyer on a team, choose them to take the Tallahassee regional and go give Florida hell. They have the 8th best batting average in the nation, and I think they will raise hell if given the chance.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

The Seminoles went on an end-of-season losing streak that probably cost them a national seed and paired them up against the Gators for the right to come to Omaha. Still, remember what I said about Augie? Mike Martin is basically the same thing for FSU. He has over 1700 wins in his 34 year history with Florida State and he made the CWS 15 times. Oh, and his teams have never won fewer than 40 games, so chew on that. Watch for Florida State to come otu of this thing alive... and then lose in the CWS because LOLACC.

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BATON ROUGE REGIONAL (Host: LSU)

Friday, May 29

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Lehigh 3 PM, SEC Network

No. 3 Tulane vs. No. 2 UNCW 7 PM, ESPN3

HOUSTON REGIONAL (Host: Houston)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Louisiana Lafayette vs. No. 2 Rice 2:30 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 4 Houston Baptist 7 PM, ESPN3

Who should make the CWS?

LSU. They are the 2 seed for a reason. Sure, Florida won the tournament, but outside of a fluky series loss to Kentucky, the Tigers won every other series they had this year and had a filthy 48-10 record. I fully expect Houston to see them in the Supers and for LSU to destroy them I also am selfishly hoping for this because Omaha is a better place with crazy Tiger fans in town.

Who could make the CWS?

Speaking of Houston, let's talk about the Cougars. I think that their regional represents an opportunity, but it sucks that their home field advantage is pretty much nil due to hosting all of the Houston teams in one place - with a not very far Lafayette as well. I don't know much about Houston, but I know that some think they're primed to get rocked by a name like Rice. We will see... I don't know enough to say one way or another.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

LSU fans being their crazy selves? Or how about Paul Mainieri trying to get LSU back to the CWS for the fourth time on his watch and win it all for the second time? I don't know. I want LSU to win this Super so I can go tailgate and eat gumbo. Is that too much to ask?

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COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL (Host: Texas A&M)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 California vs. No. 2 Coastal Carolina 12 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 4 Texas Southern 6 PM, ESPN3

FORT WORTH REGIONAL (Host: TCU)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Stony Brook vs. No. 2 NC State 1:30 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 *TCU vs. No. 4 Sacred Heart 6 PM. ESPN3

Who should make the CWS?

It depends on what side of Texas you're on. TCU is ever so slightly higher on the hierarchy here, but do not sleep on the Aggies. The Horned Frogs got swept out of the Big XII tournament, but that was after a silly 43-9 run through a relatively weak Big XII. Texas A&M just did what they could to keep their heads above water in the ridiculously deep SEC, and finished a filthy 45-11, which, come on. These two teams should be playing each other in what will be a very entertaining Super Regional matchup. My money? Let's go Texas A&M. I think they're better battle-tested.

Who could make the CWS?

How about NC State? Their pitching staff averages 9.4 K/9 and have a collective 2.93 ERA. They're going to need the bats to match the pitching, but this is a team that could make a run behind solid work on the mound.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

Sit back and enjoy the ride? Seriously, though, this is one of the most difficult regionals for me to write about. There just aren't a lot of ties. The best I can come up with is that Texas A&M is coached by former Husker pitching coach Rob Childress and I'm sad about it because he always should've been the guy after Van Horn.

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CHAMPAIGN REGIONAL (Host: Illinois)

Friday, May 29

No. 3 Wright State vs. No. 2 Notre Dame 12 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 4 Ohio 7 PM, ESPN3

Lot of wholesome Midwestern goodness here.  Illinois is trying to keep this magical season alive while the Irish are trying to get back into the swing of things since Paul Mainieri left to be the head coach for LSU.

NASHVILLE REGIONAL (Host: Vanderbilt)

No. 3 Indiana vs. No. 2 Radford 2 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Lipscomb 7 PM, ESPN3

Defending champs Vandy need to use their pitching (staff leads the nation in strike outs per inning) to get past upset minded Radford (15 game win streak) & Indiana.

Who should make the CWS?

Illinois.  As Winston Zeddemore says "They have the tools, they have the talent."  Can the Illini make it two B1G squads visiting Omaha in the past three years?  The committee thought so by giving them the #6 overall seed.  However, they’ll need to get by the defending champs…

Who could make the CWS:

Vanderbilt.  A tried and true method of winning the CWS (or at this point your regional games) is having great pitching and experience in the tourney which the Commodores have in spades.  They are not going to go down without a fight.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

Watch Illinois cap off an amazing historical year and try to make it to the CWS for the first time ever or see if Indiana, who had to replace some great players as well as their head coach, can knock off Vandy in Nashville.

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FULLERTON REGIONAL (Host: Cal State Fullerton)

No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Arizona State 5 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 4 Pepperdine 9 PM, ESPN3

If this were the World Cup this regional would be in serious contention for "Pool of Death" status.  Three title winners and three blue bloods of the sport in the same regional?  Someone call Daniel Day Lewis cause there will be blood in this one.  (yeah, that’s enough of the movie references for me.)

LOUISVILLE REGIONAL (Host: Louisville)

No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 2 Bradley 1 PM, ESPN3

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Morehead State 5 PM, ESPN3

Louisville tries to make it to Omaha for the third straight year while Michigan tries to stay hot after taking home the B1G tourney title.

Who should make the CWS?

Louisville.  Interesting note in that the Cardinals have won 1st place in the past three conferences they were in with back-to-back-to-back titles in the Big East, AAC, and this year in the ACC.  Although the first two may not have been that much of an awesome accomplishment the fact that these red birds strolled into the damn strong ACC and took the regular season should show you they better not be taken lightly.

Who could make the CWS?

Whoever wins that Fullerton death trap.  Seriously, that regional can go so many ways and trying to predict it would be futile.  Best guess would be the Titans since they are hosting the thing but I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

For B1G fans who don't watch college baseball at all, what do you want to watch for?

Outside of seeing what Michigan does in trying to take down the Cardinals I’d check out that Fullerton regional.  Lot of heavyweights trying for one last gasp of the season which should produce some great baseball.

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TL;DR: WHO IS GOING TO OMAHA?

UCLA, Ohlahoma State, Miami, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Illinois, and Louisville

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Overall Tourney Notes (courtesy of Doc1028):

  • ACC can’t win the big one 66 years and counting.
  • B1G outpaces Big XII for bids (waaaaaahh??) [insert stewie or chris pic]
  • Matt Schick backing the B1G on why MSU didn’t get in.  Prejudice?  Oregon with better record against RPI top 50 and finished stronger at the end.  Minny series may have done MSU in.
  • Iowa could clip #8 Missouri St. for an easy path to Omaha (dammit)