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Greggulator

NCAA Baseball Tournament

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My favorite annual sporting event is the NCAA Baseball Tournament. It absolutely rules. 

Why? 

1) The format is great. There are 64 teams, like the platonic version of the NCAA Tournament. The Top 16 seeds all host a regional "pod" of four teams. Then, from there, it is a double elimination. The games start Friday. If things break right, there is "If Necessary Monday" that is a winner take all to move on to the Super Regionals.  The Super Regionals pair one regional winner against another (based on how the bracket breaks down) with the highest seed hosting a Best 2 out of 3. Then the Final 8 teams go on to the College World Series. (The CWS is just the Final 8 and not the whole thing.) It's absolutely wild when you consider how random baseball is. It's really not too hard for a top seed to lose its first game and then have to fight to get out.

2) The games are wild. NCAA baseball is very top heavy with offense. There are a lot of awesome hitters. But, even the best teams lack top line pitching.

 UCLA is the #1 seed this year. Their offense is stacked w/ top prospects for the MLB Draft. However, the Bruins' best starting pitcher is maybe a Top 200 prospect. It's really easy for a lower seed team to knock out a starter early... and then all bets are off once you get into the bullpen. And NCAA coaches are crazy in terms of who they will use. In the SEC Tournament Final yesterday, Ole Miss went up to a 10-0 lead over #2 nationally ranked Vanderbilt. The  Vandy Boys then went on a huge run and had it tied in the bottom of the 9th. Who did Ole Miss turn to save the game with bases loaded? Ryan Olenek, its starting Right Fielder who made six bullpen appearances this year. You can see how that turned out. 

It's really wild in the tournament once there are elimination games. If something goes into extra innings, forget about it. You can literally see some freshman bench player come on out to try and get someone out.

3) The atmosphere's are so wild. The stadiums are all bandboxes. The biggest (and arguably best) stadium is Mississippi State's "The Dude." They have a crazy tailgate scene and really wild fan sections. There are marching bands at some games who will play the fight song after a home team home run.  It's exactly what you would think if you ever wondered what a baseball game with a college hoops atmosphere would look like.

On the flip side -- absolutely no one goes to watch any of the games that do not involve the host team. I mean, who the hell in their right mind in Chapel Hill wants to go see Liberty vs. Tennessee this Friday in the 2-3 in the region? That sort of adds to it.

4) There are always some weirdo teams hosting a regional. It's not really the case this year because the SEC has dominated college baseball this season outside of UCLA pretty much. West Virginia is hosting a regional for the first time. East Carolina is hosting a regional, but they have done that a few times. Last year, Stetson hosted a regional and made it to the Supers.

5) It is so geographically imbalanced. The best teams are in the southern conferences, Texas, California (including smaller schools like UC Santa Barbara and perennial power Cal State Fullerton, which missed out this year) and Oregon State. So that makes it fun to root for any team from up north to try and crack through to a Super Regional. Who could forget the 2015 tournament when Columbia forced Miami into an "If Necessary Monday" game? (They went on to lose 21-3, but still.) And who did Miami go on to play? The VCU Rams, who made it to the super regionals. (VCU counts as a cold weather school since it's in the A-10, which sucks.)

There are almost ZERO winter weather schools that make it to Omaha. The last one was Stony Brook of all schools in 2012. (I don't count Oregon State.)

Also: The geographic imbalance makes for some crazy Super Regionals. Cal Sate Fullerton and Long Beach State matched up in a Super Regional a few years ago and the campus' are about three miles or so from each other. There are going to be a bunch of SEC vs SEC match-ups this year if the tournament holds to form. That will make for a fun time. 

On Friday, ESPNU is hosting Bases Loaded, which is their studio show that goes wall-to-wall with coverage (all weekend). If you get ESPNU, I recommend watching that way and then moving over to something that's like 15-13 in the 8th inning. 

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I picked Miami to go very far. They lost their first game tonight. This seems bad.

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14 minutes ago, Dewar said:

I picked Miami to go very far. They lost their first game tonight. This seems bad.

Central Michigan is now America's Team!

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Auburn put up a 13 count in the first inning against North Carolina today. How is that even possible?

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War Eagle!

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The final 8 going to Omaha: Michigan, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Florida Staate, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Auburn.

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Auburn with an all-time meltdown against Miss State to go into the loser’s bracket in Omaha.

 

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