The college baseball postseason is unlike anything else in sports.
Sixteen separate four-team, double-elimination tournaments is a format that is not only a unique way to begin the Road to Omaha, but it is sure to produce a slew of rivalry games. While every single regional is sure to provide plenty of excitement, though, there are a few in particular that look especially enticing.
Let's take a look.
|Corvallis Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Oregon State vs. No. 4 North Dakota State||Friday, May 30||11 p.m.||ESPNU|
|No. 2 UNLV vs. No. 3 UC Irvine||Friday, May 30||5 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Stillwater Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Binghamton||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Nebraska vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton||Friday, May 30||1 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Houston Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Rice vs. No. 4 George Mason||Friday, May 30||8 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Texas A&M||Friday, May 30||4 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Baton Rouge Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana||Friday, May 30||3 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Houston vs. No. 3 Bryant||Friday, May 30||8 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Tallahassee Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Georgia Southern||Friday, May 30||6 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Kennesaw State||Friday, May 30||Noon||ESPN3|
|Louisville Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Kent State||Friday, May 30||6 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas||Friday, May 30||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Nashville Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Xavier||Friday, May 30||8 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Clemson||Friday, May 30||1 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Bloomington Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Youngstown State||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Indiana State vs. No. 3 Stanford||Friday, May 30||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Gainesville Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Florida vs. No. 4 Charleston||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Long Beach State vs. No. 3 North Carolina||Friday, May 30||1 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Coral Gables Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 4 Bethune-Cookman||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Texas Tech vs. No. 3 Columbia||Friday, May 30||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|San Luis Obispo Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Cal Poly vs. No. 4 Sacramento State||Friday, May 30||9 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 3 Pepperdine||Friday, May 30||4 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Fort Worth Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 TCU vs. No. 4 Siena||Friday, May 30||8 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Dallas Baptist vs. No. 3 Sam Houston State||Friday, May 30||3:30 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Lafayette Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 La.-Lafayette vs. No. 4 Jackson State||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Mississippi State vs. No. 3 San Diego State||Friday, May 30||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Oxford Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Jacksonville State||Friday, May 30||8 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Georgia Tech||Friday, May 30||4 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Columbia Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Campbell||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 3 Old Dominion||Friday, May 30||1 p.m.||ESPN3|
|Charlottesville Regional||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Bucknell||Friday, May 30||2 p.m.||ESPN3|
|No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 3 Liberty||Friday, May 30||7 p.m.||ESPNU|
These are just the first games in each regional. Future contests will be determined based on the winners. You can find the full bracket and schedule for each regional right here, courtesy of NCAA.com.
You aren't going to find many weaknesses when it comes to Rice's baseball team.
Wayne Graham's team hit .339 during the Conference USA tournament and ranks ninth nationally in fielding percentage. Pitching was expected to be the Owls' Achilles' heel when Jordan Stephens was lost to Tommy John surgery and top MLB prospect Zech Lemond went out with elbow inflammation, but that has turned into arguably the team's biggest strength.
Sophomore Blake Fox has assumed the role of ace, going 12-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 14 starts, while Matt Ditman (nine saves, 1.72 ERA) has taken over the closer role. Lemond is now back, and the Owls rank 12th in the nation in ERA.
All that being said, however, numbers have a tendency of quickly being thrown out the window during rivalries, and this regional is full of those.
In a reunion of the old Southwest Conference, Texas and Texas A&M—which, by the way, will reunite for the first time since 2012 before the Aggies left for the SEC—will join Rice in Houston:
There is absolutely no love lost between any of these three teams. Texas and Rice have met 278 times in school history, while Texas and Texas A&M have paired up 368 times, per the Longhorns' official athletics website.
However, while the history is extensive, it's rare that we see these teams in the postseason together. Texas and Rice have split two games in regional play, while the Longhorns and Aggies have yet to meet in NCAA championship play.
They say everything is bigger in Texas. That will be on display at Reckling Park as state bragging rights go up for grabs.
This is arguably the most difficult regional.
Ole Miss went 41-18 overall and 19-11 in the stacked SEC conference, which sent a record 10 teams to the postseason. Washington finished second in the Pac-12 behind Oregon State, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, and had a strong case to host a regional. Georgia Tech was a bit inconsistent during the regular season, but the Yellow Jackets powered through Greensboro, going 4-1 to win the ACC tournament and earn an automatic bid.
The Rebels are a solid No. 1, the Huskies are a No. 2 that could be a No. 1 and the Yellow Jackets are a No. 3 that could be a No. 2. It is the only regional to feature three teams in Baseball America's Top 25.
"Jacksonville State, Georgia Tech, and Washington are all three very good teams," said Ole Miss first baseman Sikes Orvis. "I'm excited to get out there and get playing against them. I'd rather play against some tough teams than have a cakewalk."
The nature of baseball makes it difficult to win a tournament like this, just because games tend to be more unpredictable. But getting to the super regional out of Oxford is going to take a near perfect performance.
If a scout could only choose one college baseball team to watch, most would eagerly pick the Cavaliers.
While the preseason No. 1 hasn't always been consistent with the bats (96th in America with a .277 batting average), it has the power to change games. Mike Papi led the ACC with 10 bombs, while Brandon Downes and Derek Fisher also carry big sticks.
On the mound, Nick Howard is an electrifying closer, while Nathan Kirby, who has a minuscule 1.48 ERA and struck out 18 batters during a no-hitter against Pittsburgh earlier this season, is one to keep your eye on for 2015.
But the Razorbacks aren't lacking in the prospect department, either.
Brian Anderson is hitting .311/.384/.469 and provides terrific athleticism at second base, and Chris Oliver and Jalen Beeks are two lights-out starters. The former has been dealing with an elbow injury, but he hopes to make some kind of impact.
“I’m ready to be back, wherever I can,” he told the Arkansas News Bureau's Robbie Neiswanger. “We don’t know the rotation yet or anything. I just know whoever goes out there is going to do a good job.”
Either way, there is going to be MLB talent all over Davenport Field this weekend.
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