There was a little bit of doubt after the Boilers dropped the Iowa series, but after winning the Big Ten Tournament with an undefeated record the baseball Boilers added another distinction to this record breaking season. Purdue will play in only its second ever NCAA Tournament, and will host a regional. Because of the construction issues with Alexander Field it will not be on campus, but the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, home of the Southshore Railcats, will serve as the venue for the four team regional next weekend.
Purdue is one of two schools hosting for the first time, joining Oregon (which only recently renewed its program) as a first time host. Had Alexander Field been finished it would have been more than adequate a facility, thus it would have been on campus. Credit should be given to the athletic department for still being able to put this together as a reward for a great season.
Here are the 16 regional hosts, and each team is in the tournament now, so one fourth of the field is revealed. Each team is also very likely a No. 1 seed in their four team regional:
Baton Rouge, La. — LSU (43-16)
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina (44-14)
Charlottesville, Va. — Virginia (38-17)
College Station, Texas — Texas A&M (42-16)
Columbia, S.C. — South Carolina (40-17)
Coral Gables, Fla. — Miami (Fla.) (36-20)
Eugene, Ore. — Oregon (42-16)
Gainesville, Fla. – Florida (42-18)
Gary, Ind. — Purdue (44-12)
Houston, Texas — Rice (40-17)
Los Angeles, Calif. — UCLA (41-14)
Palo Alto, Calif. — Stanford (37-16)
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State (39-17)
Tallahassee, Fla. — Florida State (43-15)
Tucson, Ariz. — Arizona (37-17)
Waco, Texas — Baylor (44-14)
Of note is the fact that Purdue played UCLA three times and beat them once. National seeds will be announced tomorrow at noon, and it is likely Purdue will not be a national seed. they will be paired with a National Seed regional, and regardless of who wins each regional the pairings will play each other. Purdue, as a regional host, would effectively be a No. 2 seed in an 8-team Super Regional, and would likely host again if their paired national seed loses. The favorites for being a National Seed at Florida State, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, UCLA, Baylor, LSU, and 2-tiem defending national champion South Carolina.
The announcement of Miami as a regional host was shocking, as Kentucky was expected to be a lock for weeks and Miami wasn't really even considered. The good news is that it will save my marriage.
As for who Purdue will play, I have a pretty good idea. the No. 4 seed, and likely first round opponent, will probably be Valparaiso. The Crusaders won the Horizon league's auto-bid today, and they might have the rare distinction of being a No. 4 seed playing closer to home than a host. Valpo beat Illinois-Chicago in the final, whom Purdue beat with ease twice. It is possible coach Schreiber could go with Robert Ramer in game one to save Joe Haase and Lance Breedlove for games two and three, especially since winning the first two games is the easiest way out of a regional.
The No. 3 seed will possibly be Indiana State, whom Purdue beat a few weeks ago in the final game at Lambert Field. The Sycamores won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season, but went 0-2 in the tournament. Still, the MVC was a strong conference (stronger than the Big Ten), and they can expect an at large bid.
The No. 2 seed is a toss-up. Mississippi State, Oregon State, Kentucky, Louisville, and Arkansas as the possible teams. Kentucky is a major wild card, however, as they have been a stone cold lock as a regional host virtually all year, so seeing them as a No. 2 seed somewhere, when Louisville was their No.2 in most projections, is a tough draw.
What all those teams have in common is that they are solid clubs that have had up and down years. All the more reason to throw Robert Ramer in game one and save Breedlove and Haase for what could be two potential matchups.
That's all I have for now. ESPNU will have the selection show tomorrow at noon, so we'll know officially then. I also plan to be at the games too.