It's approximately forty-five minutes until the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show on ESPN. As Michigan is hosting a regional, and the only Big Ten representative in the field of sixty-four (yeah, I'm going out on a limb), I'm going to attempt to live blog along with the show.
However, in this time before the show kicks off, I'm going chat a bit about who might be coming to Ann Arbor.
11:48am Much of who comes to Ann Arbor depends on whether or not Michigan gets a #1 or #2 seed. Friend of BTH, CBS College Sports' Eric Sorenson cranked out a selection show preview and suggested that the NCAA implied that Rich Maloney's nine will be a #2 seed.
I guess I'm not surprised. While the southern programs and media are blatantly anti-northern baseball, in fairness, this year just simply has not been as strong a season for snowbelt programs as 2007 was.
You can make a case that Michigan merits a #1 seed, but I wouldn't get my shorts all up in knot if they are a #2 and host.
Noon My fear, though, is that in spite of having more northern voices on the selection committee, Michigan will land a #2 seed and get "punished" by the committee with a brutal bracket. (The old "Oh, you want to host a regional do you?" theory.)
The list of power programs not hosting this week is lengthy. Georgia Tech tops the group and would seem like the most likely #1 seed to travel to Ann Arbor should UM be a #2 seed. However, the list of programs looking at a road trip also includes Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas to name just a few.
12:15pm Fifteen minutes to go. I've flipped stations over to ESPN. No audio on, though. That will have to wait a quarter of an hour.
12:17pm I've had this gut feeling that South Carolina is coming to the Ann Arbor regional. No rationale behind it. Just a feeling. However, that was before I learned that the Yellow Jackets were not hosting and in the top ten in RPI. If Michigan is indeed a second seed, I'd be a tiny bit surprised if Tech wasn't in Ann Arbor this coming weekend. Either would be great, though.
Let me get back to my "punishment" theory. As an example, I could see UM as #2 seed, GA Tech as the #1 and a program like Kentucky, Missouri or San Diego being the #3. I could also see Georgia Southern, Texas-San Antonio or Sam Houston State getting the number four.
When you are in a double elimination format, all brackets are tough. Only 64 programs get in. Yet, I can't see the selection committee watering down an Ann Arbor regional, if they presume UM is a "weak" #2 seed. Which, in light of the Big Ten's performance, would not shock me.
12:25pm Five minutes to go. Better head to the kitchen now.
12:30pm Here we go.
12:35pm Miami is #1 overall. Can't disagree. Carolina #2. ASU is #3. Florida State is #4. #5 CS-Fullerton. #6 Rice. #7 LSU. (All hosts, so far.) #8 is Georgia.
12:38pm It's Arizona, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky visting Ann Arbor.
12:39pm Yes, Michigan is a two-seed. (Yikes, Arkansas gets in. They didn't make their conference tournament field.) Michigan will open with Kentucky. Lots of offensive potential, so expect a pitching duel Friday. The Wildcats of Arizona open with EMU.
I agree with ESPN's Will Kimmey, Miami got a tough regional with Mississippi and Missouri.
12:45pm Here are the official links to Michigan's opposition. Arizona. Kentucky. EMU. It's a tough bracket, but most are.
No Oregon State? The two-time defending champions are left out. Ouch.
12:49pm Still whining about Michigan hosting? Please. I don't care if the Wolverines get bounced out after two, they merit a chance to host. Kimmey defends Ann Arbor hosting. He makes all the obvious points.
12:55pm If I were a Michigan coach, I'd be playing up the fact the nation still does not believe.
12:58pm Graphic points out how many top programs Arizona has beaten this year. That's an impressive resume. Kyle Peterson calls the Wildcats, Arizona-version, "dangerous". Um, yeah.
Well, show's over. My initial thought is that the Ann Arbor regional is tough. Everyone is drooling over Arizona, and rightfully so, but Kentucky is no walk in the park, either. EMU is certainly familiar with the Wolverines, as well.
I've got to move onto other things, but I hope to be back later and share some more thoughts. Carry on while I'm gone.
Update (4:30pm): I haven't gone through all the brackets, but I think it's safe to call the Ann Arbor Regional one of the most difficult. If you use the official RPI from the NCAA, which I admit has not been updated through the conference tournaments, the Ann Arbor regional has three teams in the top 37 -- Arizona (15), Kentucky (30) and Michigan (37).
Boyd's World's pseudo-RPI, which has been updated through today, has the three programs all inside the top 35 -- Arizona (10), Kentucky (33) and Michigan (35).
If you want to use the polls, both Baseball America and the NCBWA think Ann Arbor has three of the top 30 in attendance. BA actually has all three inside the top twenty-five.