Mississippi State, Southern Miss, LSU get NCAA Tournament regional assignments

Published 11:56 am Monday, May 27, 2024

There won’t be any postseason memories made at Dudy Noble Field, Pete Taylor Park or Alex Box Stadium this year. The residents of those iconic college baseball venues will have to do it somewhere else.

Mississippi State, Southern Miss and LSU were all passed over as regional host sites for the NCAA Tournament, but all three made the 64-team field that was announced Monday.

Mississippi State will play in the Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia; Southern Miss is in the Knoxville Regional hosted by Tennessee; and LSU is headed to North Carolina for the Chapel Hill Regional.

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Games begin Friday. The regionals are four-team, double-elimination tournaments with the winners advancing to the best-of-three super regional round June 7-10.

Mississippi State will play its first game in the Charlottesville Regional against Big East champion St. John’s (37-16-1) Friday at 6 p.m. No. 12 national seed Virginia (41-15) and Pennsylvania (24-23) will meet in the other first-round game at 11 a.m. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.

Mississippi State (38-21) was considered a candidate to be one of the 16 regional hosts. It had 16 Quad 1 wins, was No. 25 in the NCAA’s final RPI rankings, and had a couple of quality midweek wins against Ole Miss and Southern Miss. It also won a Southeastern Conference series against Georgia — a regional host — and finished ahead of Georgia in the regular-season standings.

The Bulldogs, though, also had several bad midweek losses to Austin Peay, South Alabama and Central Arkansas, and lost three of four SEC series in March and April. They also had 12 one-run losses.

Mississippi State wound up ranked 10th among SEC teams in RPI, which is a major component of the NCAA’s seeding formula.

LSU (40-21) was ranked just ahead of Mississippi State in RPI, at No. 23, after an outstanding run in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers reached the championship game before losing 4-3 to Tennessee on Sunday to snap a seven-game winning streak.

The late surge pushed LSU off the tournament bubble and safely into the tournament as a No. 2 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional. They’ll open against Wofford (41-18) on Friday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU, with North Carolina (42-13) and Long Island (33-23) playing in the other first-round match-up at 5 p.m. on ESPN+.

Southern Miss (41-18), meanwhile, will have a difficult regional assignment — but also a chance for revenge.

The Golden Eagles were placed in the Knoxville Regional with No. 1 overall seed Tennessee (50-11), after the two teams met in a super regional series last year in Hattiesburg. Tennessee won that series in three games to advance to the College World Series.

Southern Miss will take on Indiana (32-24-1) in its opener Friday at noon on ESPN+, while Tennessee plays Northern Kentucky (35-22) at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Southern Miss had hosted both a regional and a super regional each of the past two seasons.

Tennessee was one of five SEC teams that earned top-eight national seeds that are guaranteed to host both a regional and super regional series if they advance to the second weekend of the tournament.

Kentucky earned the No. 2 national seed, Texas A&M is No. 3, Arkansas No. 5 and Georgia No. 7.

A total of 11 SEC teams made the tournament. In addition to the five national seeds, LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida all are in the bracket.

No. 4 North Carolina. No. 6 Clemson and No. 8 Florida State are the other top-eight seeds. Nos. 9-16 are, in order, Oklahoma, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Arizona, UC Santa Barbara, Oregon State and East Carolina.

The top 16 seeds will all host regionals.

Charlottesville Regional
Friday, May 31
Virginia (41-15) vs. Penn (24-23), 11 a.m. (ESPN+)
Mississippi State (38-21) vs. St. John’s (37-16-1), 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

Knoxville Regional
Friday, May 31
Southern Miss (41-18) vs. Indiana (32-24-1), Noon (ESPN+)
Tennessee (50-11) vs. Northern Kentucky (35-22), 6 p.m. (SEC Network)

Chapel Hill Regional
Friday, May 31
LSU (40-21) vs. Wofford (41-18), 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
North Carolina (42-13) vs. Long Island (33-23), 5 p.m. (ESPN+)

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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