Tennessee Earns No. 1 National Seed For NCAA Baseball Tournament After Sweeping SEC Titles

OMAHA, Neb.: The top national seed for the NCAA Tournament was given to Tennessee on Monday. Tennessee is the Southeastern Conference regular-season and conference tournament champion, as well as the team that the nation believes is the best for a month.

There are sixteen double-elimination regionals to begin the 64-team competition on Friday. Eight best-of-three super regionals await the winners. Those winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 14.

The Volunteers are the only team in the nation to have won 50 games in three of the previous four years, and they haven’t dropped a straight set of games since mid-March. They’ll attempt to make history by being the first team from the top national seed to win the championship since Miami in 1999—the year the NCAA switched to the current bracket system.

Tennessee enters the regionals ranked in the top 10 nationally in five offensive categories. Tennessee has advanced to the College World Series in two of the last three years. Christian Moore leads five Vols players with at least 17 home runs with 28, giving the Vols the most in the country with 147. In addition to ranking in the top five in four other categories, the pitching staff had an ERA of 3.83.

Coach Tony Vitello of the Vols stated, “If you go back to August when it started, the group has had good vibes up at the field every day.” “That’s a good start because you have guys that are willing to listen and work together, so you can probably improve and it will be fun to come to work every day whether you win or lose.”

The national seeds following Tennessee (50-11) are Kentucky (40-14), Texas A&M (44-13), North Carolina (42-13), Arkansas (43-14), Clemson (41-14), Georgia (39-15) and Florida State (42-15).

Seeds Nos. 9 through 16: Oklahoma (37-19), North Carolina State (33-20), Oklahoma State (40-17), Virginia (41-15), Arizona 36-21), UC Santa Barbara (42-12), Oregon State (42-14) and East Carolina (43-15).

The last four teams to get at-large bids, in alphabetical order, were Coastal Carolina, Indiana, James Madison and UCF.

The first four teams left out were California, Charleston, Cincinnati and TCU.

The SEC set a record with 11 teams in regionals and five among the top eight national seeds. The Atlantic Coast Conference has eight teams in the tournament and the Big 12 has six.

Selection committee decisions sure to be debated were having East Carolina host a regional over other contenders and Coastal Carolina, Kansas State, Indiana and Florida receiving at-large bids. All six of those schools have representatives on the committee, and all but East Carolina were thought to be on the bubble for bids.

Chairman Matt Hogue, the athletic director at Coastal Carolina, said NCAA protocols ensure fairness by requiring committee members to leave the room when their schools are discussed and to not participate if their schools are subject of a vote.

“One thing that you do want to have with a committee are folks who are tuned into the sport,” Hogue said, “so just as an inherent natural result, if you have quality people on the committee, it’s going to be likely in many years you’re going to have teams in that situation. So I think that’s important to note.”

Other notes about the tournament:

— Defending national champion LSU, in danger of missing the tournament six weeks ago after losing 12 of its first 15 SEC games, has won 18 of its past 24 overall and made a run to the conference tournament championship game to earn a No. 2 regional seed at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

— A total of 19 college players projected to be taken in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, according to MLB.com, are in the tournament. The group is led by Georgia’s Charlie Condon, whose 35 homers and .443 batting average lead the nation.

— Vanderbilt has the longest active streak with its 18th straight appearance. Texas is in the tournament for a record 63rd time. Florida State, which had its record-tying streak of regional appearances end at 44 in 2023, is back in the tournament and will be a host for a Division I-record 36th time.

— UC Santa Barbara will be an intimidating regional host. The Gauchos have won all 25 of their home games this season, the only Division I team to do so, and have the nation’s longest overall active win streak at 14.

— Oral Roberts (27-30-1), which made a surprise run to the CWS last year, won the Summit League Tournament title to make it back to the tournament and are the only team in the field with a losing record.

— First-time participants are High Point, Niagara and Northern Kentucky.


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