Jun 1

NCAA Baseball Tournament Preview 2010

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Can the ACC break its drought?
In basketball and the olympic sports, the ACC does just fine. National championships are common from soccer to lacrosse to swimming and diving. But in my two favorite sports - football and baseball - the ACC has not won a national championship in over a decade (FSU '99 in football). On the diamond, this drought is even more depressing than on the gridiron. That's right folks, in college baseball, the ACC has not won a national championship since Wake Forest brought it home in 1955, the league's third year of existence. That hurts.
Year after year after year, the ACC is one of the top college baseball leagues, as proven by the number of teams sent to Omaha (14 team appearances since 2000). But for whatever the reason, when ESPN's big cameras get rolling from their perches at Rosenblatt Stadium, the ACC crawls into a hole and disappears. The league is no stranger to reaching the final ballpark to bring home the glory, but it just hasn't happened.
In 2006 and 2007, UNC was one win away from winning it all, but lost both years to Oregon State. In 1999, Florida State (19 trips to Omaha) was in the title game, but lost a classic to Miami (then Big East), 6-5. In 1994, Georgia Tech reached the last game of the season before getting steam-rolled by Oklahoma, 13-4. Clemson has reached Omaha 11 times, last in 2006, but has never even been able to reach the championship game. And a year ago, Virginia entered as the number one team in the land, only to come up short of the title. Then you have Miami, one of the best programs in the game over the last 35 years with several national titles (four to be exact, last in 2001), but none came as a member of the ACC.
So as you can see, the big-time baseball is there, but will the ACC finally get it done in 2010? Entering the start of play on Friday, the ACC has eight teams in the field of 64, with two of those teams hosting regionals (in both first and second rounds should they win) in GT and UVA. The Cavaliers have been positioned near the nation's top spot all season, and should be a favorite to reach Omaha. The ACC teams trying to bring it home in 2010 are Miami, FSU, GT, Clemson, UNC, NC State, UVA and Virginia Tech. Good luck, guys, sooner or later, it's bound to happen!
The state of South Carolina regional situation.
Ok, I know I should do a breakdown of each regional, but there are 16 of them and I honestly don't know enough to get that in depth. What I do know, is that the state of South Carolina has some dadgum good baseball in it to be as small as it is. Coastal Carolina and South Carolina were given the pleasure of hosting a regional in the first round of action, and it is well deserved by both. I have no problem with my two in-state rivals being rewarded for their play. But what almost came about was Clemson getting screwed by just happening to be in the same state as those two schools.
It was clear a couple of weeks ago that USC and CCU would get regionals as both were ranked in the nation's top 10. But a late season surge by the Tigers also had them in consideration when they won their divsion and were ranked as high as 15 in one poll. Clemson had a winning record against South Carolina, but lost its only game to Coastal. It became a topic of conversation that no matter how the Tigers fared in the ACC tourney, the NCAA would not let a third team from this state host a regional, anyway. I call BS on that...
It turns out that Clemson played poor in the ACC tourney and it didn't matter anyway. But had Clemson won the ACC or played well, I would be on fire if we didn't get a regional simply because USC and CCU play in the same state. I would bet my life the state of Texas or California or Florida have had three hosts before...
In the end, this is somewhat of a non-issue, but still needs to be looked into. There is no reason this state shouldn't have been able to host three regionals if the teams deserved it. The quality of baseball here is very, very good, and the third team shouldn't be punished or shipped out because of this.

Texas and Southern California.

It is amazing to me the history at some of these programs. We have already mentioned LSU and their spectacular run over the last 24 years, but let's not forget about two programs that have also kicked a ton of rear end in this event over the years.  I speak of USC and Texas.

The Trojans lead the nation in national championships on the diamond with 12. Since the 1940's the only decade they haven't won a title in was the 80's. They last won it in 2001 when they won their third in four seasons. I watched that USC team come through the Clemson regional, and I'm telling you I have still never seen a home run hit as far as a Trojan player hit one off of us that day! Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for everyone else), USC didn't make the field this year.

And Texas comes in tied with LSU for second all-time in national titles with six. Their last came in 2005, following up their 2002 title. Before that it was Roger Clemens and crew bringing it home back in 1983. Look for the Longhorns to make another run at the crown this year, starting their play at home as a regional host and national number two seed. They have been ranked number one in the three polls a good bit in 2010.
The national favorites.
Nationally, before I even look at this or that or anything else, I am picking LSU. The Tigers won it all last year, and have the meat up of their lineup returning. The Bayou Tigers just know how to get it done when they get to Omaha as they have six championships in 15 trips to Rosenblatt Stadium. My prediction right now today as I type this is that you will see LSU win another national championship in 2010.
Outside of LSU, the top picks are Arizona State (given the overall one seed), Texas, Virginia, Florida, Coastal, Louisville, UCLA and Georgia Tech. Those are the schools given the eight top seeds, and will host a super regional should they win their opening regionals....
I am assuming that ESPN will show nearly all of the games, but I am not certain. There have been times in the past where I sat down to watch my Tigers play a regional game, only to find out ESPN had decided to show a spelling bee or a little league qualifying game from some small town in Ohio. You never quite know what's going to be on, but ESPN does usually cover the event pretty well....

Days are numbered for Rosenblatt Stadium.

It makes me sad to think of there being no more Rosenblatt Stadium, but it is going to happen in 2011. Yep, a new downtown stadium is being built in Omaha, and Rosenblatt will go the way of the dinosaur. I always dreamed of seeing my Tigers dogpile on that mound, but unless they find a miracle this year, I will never see my dream come true.

I love the way the park has expanded over the years, adding new sections of bleachers to reach its current capacity of 25,500. I love the blue outfield wall, and I love seeing the cars driving by on the freeway just past the outfield stands. I love that weird looking sphere structure beyond the right field fence, and I love the entrance-way to the stadium with the banners hanging of the particpating eight teams and the "Road to Omaha" sculpture.

What I don't love, is that I will see these things no more after this season. I'm sure that the new park will be nice and have all of the bells and whistles of these new ergonomically designed places. But there is history at Rosenblatt (named after Omaha Mayor Johny Rosenblatt in the 1960's), and all of the years and games from before will not be twined in with the games of the future. I have always liked the idea of a remodel better than the idea of building something entirely new.

But you know what? They forgot to ask me!

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