After a weekend of compelling conference tournaments and a historic crowd of 19,965 on hand to witness the Big Ten Championship game, the NCAA Baseball Tournament is set to begin at 16 regional sites.
If you think SEC propaganda is overwhelming in football, the conference bandwagon rolls even deeper in baseball. Ten teams received bids overall, five of them will be hosting regionals this weekend as one seeds. Considering seven of the conference’s programs had RPI’s in the top 22 and all 10 tourney-bound teams were in the top 40, there is little argument against the conference’s dominance.
Meanwhile the identity of west coast baseball in general has taken a beating. Arizona and UCLA won the 2012 and 2013 National Championships, but neither made this year’s field. This weekend will only see one Pac-12 host and only two venues will be west of the Rockies. The old “6-Pac” that once represented the epicenter of college baseball has sadly become a thing of the past.
College baseball continues to receive just a fraction of the exposure of March Madness. But true stitch-heads follow just as passionately as basketball fans follow the big tourney. Three weeks from now 25,000 spectators will pack TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha daily for the College World Series, an event that would just as easily fill up a Major League Baseball-sized venue.
The following slides preview the entire field.