Arizona State a no-brainer as No. 1 seed
Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 5:59 pm
By: By DENNIS WASZAK JR., AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Arizona State is No. 1 — for now.
The pressure’s on the Sun Devils to finish the season in that same spot after being selected Monday as the top seed for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.
“They really didn’t make very many mistakes throughout the course of the season and down the stretch,” selection committee chairman Tim Weiser said. “I think they, for the most part, from beginning to end have been a team that people have recognized and looked at as kind of separate from a lot of other teams.”
Arizona State (47-8) has had an outstanding season under interim coach Tim Esmay, who replaced Pat Murphy after he abruptly resigned in November after 15 years. The Pac-10 champions will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday. Arizona State opens against Horizon League champion Milwaukee (33-24).
“Although we had a lot of debate on the seven and eight seeds, I cannot recall us having any debate or discussion about Arizona State,” said Weiser, the athletic director at Kansas State.
It’s the first time Arizona State has been the No. 1 overall seed, a spot that hasn’t exactly panned out for teams lately. The only top national seed to win the College World Series since the field was expanded in 1999 to 64 teams was Miami in that same year.
The other national seeds, in order, are: Texas (46-11), Florida (42-15), Coastal Carolina (51-7), Virginia (47-11), UCLA (43-13), Louisville (48-12) and Georgia Tech (45-13).
The Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference each had eight schools selected by the NCAA baseball committee for the 64-team field, all-time highs for both the ACC and Pac-10.
The 16 regional winners move on to the best-of-three super regionals, with those winners advancing to the College World Series, which begins June 19 in Omaha, Neb.
Florida International’s Garrett Wittels will carry a 54-game hitting streak into the Coral Gables, Fla., regional and an opening-round matchup against Texas A&M. Wittels is four games shy of matching Robin Ventura’s Division I record of 58 consecutive games with at least one hit, set in 1987 for Oklahoma State.
Defending national champion LSU will play UC Irvine in the first round of the Los Angeles regional, hosted by UCLA. The Tigers (40-20) were a bubble team until they won the SEC Tournament over the weekend.
“You don’t get to choose where you go,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I do feel like we got what we deserved. If we had done a better job in the last month of the season, we maybe would have been able to play here at home. But we didn’t, so now we’ve got to take it like men and now we’ve just got to go out there and get the job done.”
North Carolina, which has made four straight College World Series appearances, made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection despite not making the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels (36-20) have been ranked in the top 30 for much of the season and finished the regular season strong.
“We have not had that as a criteria, and we have not suggested to the membership that they have to make a conference tournament,” Weiser said. “I think in North Carolina’s case, the argument can be made that they had a very good season.”
Mercer, which won the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament, is the lone team making its first appearance. New Mexico is in for the first time since 1962, while Oregon is playing in the tournament for the first time since 1964. The Ducks are in their second season since restarting their program under former Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton.
Weiser said the committee considered about 12 teams for the tournament’s last two spots. Among schools left out were: Florida Gulf Coast, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas State and Wichita State.