College Baseball's Sweet 16!
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The field of 64 has now been narrowed to 16, with 8 super regional sites set to get underway this Friday around the country. The road to Omaha is littered with big-time familiar names, with the ACC and SEC leading the way, setting up for some awesome baseball ahead!
This first round of the playoffs, the regional action, has been filled with many storylines, but the biggest among them is the whipping undertaken by Ohio State in the Tallahasee regional. The Buckeyes surrendered 71 runs in 4 games giving up 24 runs to Georgia in their first game, and then an unbelievable 37 runs to host Florida State to become eliminated in their fourth game. This brings up two interesting things to talk about. The first is that the Big-Ten really sucks at baseball. The second is the question of whether or not there should be a mercy rule in playoff college baseball?
The Big-Ten in Baseball. These schools are at an immediate disadvantage simply based on where they play. They do not have the same time-frame to prepare for the season simply based on the weather, and due to this, they often struggle in post-season play. The league has not had a team even appear in the championship game since 1966, when Ohio State defetaed Oklahoma State 8-2. It has been since 1984 (Yes, 1984...) since the Big-Ten has sent a team to Omaha.
This post-season, the league was 4-4 in the NCAA regionals, as only Ohio State and Minnesota made the regionals. And the reason this mini-story has become a hot topic is because of the Ohio State situation which is below. So, you as a fan, take these numbers and due what you may with them in forming your opinions of the Big-Ten and whether or not they should just stick with hockey as their fix until football rolls back around.
Ohio State and the idea of the Mercy Rule. I recall a quote I see on these South Carolina highways from time to time on bumper-stickers: "If you can't run with the big dogs, keep your ass on the porch".....Ohio State went 2-2 in this regional, but got the ever-lasting tar kicked out of them in their elimination game, bringing up quite a few discussions about how bad a team should be allowed to be embarrased when they are supposedly being "rewarded" for making the post-season. The Buckeyes did win two games, including a defeat of second seed Georgia to reach the championship round vs FSU. But this team will be remembered for the 37 point melt-down to the 'Noles.
My opinion is that a mercy rule is ridiculous. If Ohio State is truly a post-season team, then they should be expected to go the full 9 rounds against any team they should happen to draw to play in a regional. Yes, it is bad to see guys get beat like that. But the beauty of sports is that it is a way to measure talent levels of different programs from different areas of the country in an absolute way.
We knock heads in football and basketball, and we determine who is the better conference. So in baseball, I think you let 'em play just the same way. If a team gets smeared - flat out embarassed - in football, that game goes into the TV studio for the whole nation to discuss. Being an ACC fan, I remember VT getting smeared at LSU in an embarassing way in 2007. It looked really bad for our conference as the game pitted one of our best against one of their best. So in baseball, if Ohio State is going to represent the Big-Ten in a playoff type game, they should be prepared for whatever the outcome may be.
The 8 Super Regional Sites. Big-names abound! You have to love this, big time programs are scattered all over these super regionals, and the TV this coming weekend is going to be out of control! Here is who is playing who, and where:
Austin Super Regional: Texas (1) vs. TCU
Fullerton Super Regional: Cal St Fullerton (2) vs. Louisville
Baton Rouge Super Regional: LSU (3) vs. Rice
Chapel Hill Super Regional: North Carolina (4) vs. East Craolina
Tempe Super Regional: Arizona State (5) vs. Clemson
Tallahassee Super Regional: FSU vs. Arkansas
Oxford Super Regional: Ole Miss vs. Virginia
Gainesville Super Regional: Florida (8) vs. Southern Miss
* National seeds 6 and 7, UC Irvine and Oklahoma, respectively, were eliminated by Virginia and Arkansas, respectively.
ACC and SEC dominate field. The two conferences that are anchored in the southeast had huge regionals. The ACC has four teams advancing to Super Regional action as FSU, UNC, Clemson and Virginia will all try to reach Omaha. The SEC is right there with them as Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, and Arkansas will also see if they have what it takes to reach the College World Series. There is little doubt that the nation's best amatuer ball comes from the Southeast.
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