SEC Breaks Its Record With 8 Regional Sites For NCAA Baseball Tournament

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BATON ROUGE – LSU coach Jay Johnson did not bat an eye as he watched a record eight SEC baseball teams receive host sites for NCAA Regional play that opens Friday.

“After going through that schedule, absolutely not,” he said at Alex Box Stadium on Monday after the NCAA Selection Show.

The SEC also tied its record for most selections to the 64-team NCAA Tournament with 10. And the league had the largest number of top eight national seeds this year with four – No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 5 LSU and No. 6 Vanderbilt.

The other four national seeds were No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 4 Clemson, No. 7 Virginia and No. 8 Stanford.

LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson’s team was No. 1 entering the season and stayed there until late in the year when its difficult SEC schedule caught up with the Tigers. (Getty Images).

The top eight seeds get to host the best-of-three Super Regional round June 9-12, provided they advance from this weekend. The eight Super Regional winners advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., June 16-26.


LSU entered the season at No. 1 and stayed there until late in the regular season when it lost back-to-back series to teams near the bottom of the SEC at the time – Auburn and Mississippi State. The Tigers finished 4-5 in the SEC over the final three weeks.

“I said this before – you put Ole Miss and Mississippi State in any league in America and they would probably not finish any worse than third,” Johnson said.

Ole Miss finished last in the SEC at 25-29 overall and 6-24 for 14th in the league after winning the national championship a year ago. Mississippi State finished 13th at 27-26 and 9-21 after winning the national title in 2021. The SEC will be gunning for its fourth straight national title in baseball as Vanderbilt won it in 2019 before the COVID cancellation season of 2020. And the league has won four of the last five as Florida won it in 2017 over LSU.

SEC Had Only 4 Teams Not Make NCAA Field

The only other SEC teams not to make the NCAA field of 64 were Georgia (29-27, 11-19) in 11th and Missouri (30-24, 10-20) in 12th. Both schools’ head coaches were fired over the weekend – Scott Stricklin at Georgia and Missouri’s Steve Bieser.

It’s a tough league from top to bottom.

Johnson’s Tigers lost their regular season finale at Georgia, 9-5, after winning the first two. A win in that game would have given the Tigers the outright SEC championship. Instead Florida from the East and Arkansas from the West finished as co-champions at 20-10 with LSU at 19-10.

The fact, or belief, that SEC bottom feeders could eat other conference’s top feasters is what NCAA Baseball Selection Committee chairman John Cohen used to explain why South Carolina and Auburn received host sites.

South Carolina (39-18) lost five of its last six SEC series to finish sixth in the league at 16-13, and went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament last week. Auburn (34-20-1) finished fifth in the SEC at 17-13 and also lost two of three games in the SEC Tournament. Both will be hosting. Campbell (44-13) won the Big South at 22-5 and led the nation in scoring with 9.8 runs a game. But it will not be hosting.

SEC Argument Is All About ‘Body Of Work’

“You have to look at the full body of work and that’s what they did,” said Cohen, a former Mississippi State player, coach and athletic director who is Auburn’s athletic director. “South Carolina started 30-4, eight wins against the one top eight seeds, pretty good work. The end of the season is important something we definitely look at, but full body of work is extremely important as well.”

No. 2 seed Campbell will play in Columbia, S.C., against No. 3 seed North Carolina State (35-19) at 1 p.m. Friday on the ACC Network. No. 1 seed South Carolina will host No. 4 Central Connecticut State (36-12) at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN+.

Campbell, located in Buies Creek, N.C., bid for a host site in Fayetteville, N.C., 34 miles away, but did not get it.

“Campbell’s one of the elite teams in the country, there’s no question about it,” Cohen said. “I’ve seen them play on television a ton of times. What an incredible job they do. They got a ton of consideration, went round the room a whole bunch. When Auburn’s grouped with any of these schools, I have to leave the room. There was great conversation.”

Cohen and No. 1 seed Auburn will host No. 4 Penn (32-14) at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN+.

Mediocre SEC Teams Get Rewarded

Other middle-of-the-road SEC teams who received host sites were Kentucky and Alabama at 16-14 and tied for seventh in the SEC. No. 1 seed Kentucky (36-18) will host No. 4 Ball State (36-21) at noon Friday on the SEC Network. No. 1 seed Alabama (40-19) will host No. 4 Nicholls State (34-22) at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Still more second-division SEC schools received NCAA bids. Those were Tennessee at 16-14 and 10th place Texas A&M at 14-16. The No. 2 seed Vols (38-19) will travel to Clemson, S.C., to play No. 3 seed Charlotte (34-26) at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPNU. Tennessee went one-and-out in the SEC Tournament last week. Clemson (43-17) will play Lipscomb (36-24) at 1 p.m. Friday on ESPN+.

No. 2 seed Texas A&M (36-25) will venture to Stanford, California, to play No. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton (31-22) at 10 p.m. Friday on ESPN2. No. 8 overall seed Stanford (38-16) plays San Jose State (31-25) at 5 p.m. on ESPN+.

As far as the upper division of the SEC, No. 2 overall seed Florida (44-14) will play Florida A&M (29-28) at 5:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+. No. 3 Arkansas (41-16) will play Santa Clara (35-18) at 3 p.m. on ESPN+. No. 5 LSU (43-15) hosts Tulane (19-40) at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. And No. 7 Vanderbilt (41-18) meets Eastern Illinois (38-19) at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Texas A&M Finished Strong

The Aggies were the last SEC team in, but they are hot of late as they won four games in the SEC Tournament last week before losing the championship on Sunday to Vanderbilt, 10-4. A&M, like Auburn, reached the College World Series last year only to struggle in the middle of the pack this year.

“The depth of this conference now, especially with the transfer portal, is amazing,” A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said after eliminating LSU, 5-4, on Friday at the SEC Tournament.

“Kids from the West Coast, i.e. Thatcher Hurd (LSU transfer pitcher from UCLA) or Hunter Haas (Texas A&M transfer shortstop from Arizona State), I don’t care what they say, no matter where you are, what other conference you’re in. When you go back to the hotel at night, you turn on the SEC Network and you watch those games and see those atmospheres.”

The rich are getting richer.

“So, now you have a lot of great players that want to be in this conference,” Schlossnagle said. “And they’re not just at LSU. It’s all across the league. So, it’s literally a Super Regional every single weekend. If you can just survive it, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get to the World Series. But you might be surprised. So I think the SEC deserves 10 teams.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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