The March Madness of baseball has arrived.
The 2012 NCAA regional matchups have been released, and there are multiple lower seeds that have more than enough talent to shock the top seeds and advance to the College World Series in Omaha.
Some teams have more experience, others more depth, while some lucked out with the regional they were placed in.
While the one-and-done nature of the college basketball tournament doesn’t exist in baseball, stealing two of three wins is more than in the realm of possibilities for the following teams.
Los Angeles Regional
No. 3 New Mexico (36-22)
The Lobos have a ton of experience, depth, pitching and a terrific coach in Ray Birmingham who always pulls the right strings.
With terrific hitters like DJ Peterson, Mitchell Garver and Kyle Stiner entering the postseason hot, there are plenty of reasons to believe in the Lobos.
It’s not going to be easy to knock off No. 1 seeded UCLA (42-14), who has won 14 of 16, but if the New Mexico pitching holds up, they have the offense to shock the Bruins.
Baton Rouge Regional
No. 3 Belmont (39-22)
The Bruins are back-to-back champions of the Atlantic Sun and reached the finals of the Vanderbilt Regional a season ago.
This team broke the team regular season record for wins with 35 and has a starter in Chase Brookshire that is one of the most underrated pitching prospects in the whole tournament.
While No. 1 seeded LSU (43-16) is going to be incredibly tough to beat when ace flamethrower Kevin Gausman is toeing the rubber, only the Bruins rival the Tigers in the pitching department in this grouping.
We all know how important pitching is in a tournament like this.
No. 4 Austin Peay (38-22)
They’ve been here before.
The Governors went 1-2 in last year’s NCAA regionals and returned most of their team this year.
The OVC champs won their last two must-win games via shutout, and enter the regionals with one of the most underrated pitching staffs still alive.
They also benefit from being in one of the weaker regionals with the No. 1 seeded Oregon Ducks team (42-17) having plenty of holes holding down the No. 1 seed. The other at-large teams (Cal State Fullerton, Indiana State) don’t have the talent that would warrant them being anything more than a slight favorite on paper against the Govs.
Austin Peay is dangerous.