LAFAYETTE (KATC) Three Louisiana collegiate baseball teams are dancing in the NCAA tournament this week, and as they seem to do in diamond sports, all roads lead to the SEC.
Southern plays at Mississippi State, McNeese plays at Vanderbilt, and LSU hosts.
“I told someone last week that I didn’t care if we were playing in Baghdad, I’m ready to go,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill.
McNeese plays Indiana State Friday at noon in the Vanderbilt region. While the Cowboys are in Nashvegas, Southern in in Starkvegas (because even nicknames aren’t original in 2019) playing Mississippi State.
The Jags had played in the LSU regional four times before finally getting a real road trip and real NCAA tournament experience.
“I think that had we stayed here, they would have gotten an experience, but it just wouldn’t have been the same as being able to go on the road and be in that environment,” said head coach Kerrick Jackson.
LSU hosts Stony Brook University Friday night. A team it has it’s own history with going back to a 2012 super regional.
LSU, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are three of the six SEC teams hosting regional games. Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas are the others. Four of those teams, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Arkansas would host super regional match-ups if they advance, and there in the supers Arkansas could host Ole Miss, while Georgia could meet LSU.
“One through 16 was supposed to stop that from happening and maybe it did to some degree,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri Monday. “When you have four national seeds out of the SEC, four of the eight, it’s going to be hard to avoid SEC schools playing SEC schools in the super regionals.”
Cross-conference super regional meetings are actually a bit of a theme in this year’s field. Top seeded UCLA could face PAC 12 partner Oregon State in the supers, while Georgia Tech could host North Carolina in an ACC super pairing.
“That committee has a tough job to do. There are going to be a lot of people unhappy, some will be happy. For us I think it worked out about as well as I think it could work out,” Mainieri added.
The SEC placed ten teams in the NCAA tournament tying the record for most from a single conference.