Florida selected as top seed in baseball tourney
NEW YORK (AP) - Florida heads into the NCAA tournament as college baseball’s top team.
The Gators appreciate the honor, but they’re interested only in finishing No. 1 at the College World Series.
“I think that we have a good team,” coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “I think that we had a good year. I’d agree with everybody that I don’t think we have played our best yet, which is encouraging.”
Florida (42-18) was selected Monday as the top seed for the 64-team tournament and will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.
“That was a very close vote,” said Kyle Kallander, chairman of the Division I baseball committee. “The committee really discussed at length who deserved to be that No. 1 overall. There were several deserving teams.”
“We had four teams that were in serious consideration for that last top national seed, that No. 8 seed,” Kallander said. “It was very competitive in the evaluation process.”
Kallander said the Gators’ overall body of work _ including a 21-10 record against top 25 teams _ put them in front of the field.
History has not been kind to the No. 1 overall seeds, though. Only once has a top seed gone on to win the College World Series: Miami in 1999, the first year the NCAA went to its current tournament format.
“Obviously, this is a great time of the year for everybody,” said O’Sullivan, whose team opens against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Bethune-Cookman (34-25). “We’re excited to be in it. We’re excited to be home.”
The Gamecocks (40-17) are trying to join the 1970-74 Southern California squads as the only teams to win three or more consecutive national titles. South Carolina opens against Manhattan (33-25), the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champion.
Florida and South Carolina are among a tournament field-leading eight Southeastern Conference teams, including Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is second with seven teams: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia.
The 16 regional winners move on to the best-of-three super regionals. Those eight winners advance to the College World Series, which begins June 15 in Omaha, Neb., at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
Miami (36-21) is in the tournament for the 40th straight year, extending its own record, while Florida State is making its 35th consecutive appearance. Dayton (31-28) and Samford (39-21) are making their tournament debuts, while Valparaiso (35-23) will play in a regional for the first time since 1968.