Tim Corbin caught himself daydreaming for a moment after his Vanderbilt Commodores were selected as the top-overall seed in the NCAA baseball tournament.
“I just cut it short because I know that it is not over and I don’t want it to turn into a nightmare,” the Commodores coach said Monday. “I want it to keep going and going and going. I don’t want to wake up. I just want the kids to keep enjoying what they are doing at this point.”
The Commodores (51-11), the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament champions, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.
“You have got the bull’s-eye,” Corbin said. “But we have worn that bull’s-eye for so long now that I don’t even know if it is a bull’s-eye anymore. It has kind of worn off. And I think that is a remarkable thing. We just go about business the same way.”
Vanderbilt, led by star left-hander David Price and slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez, was ranked No. 1 in various polls for the majority of the season. The Commodores open against Ohio Valley Conference champion Austin Peay (39-20).
“There is no team that you can take lightly,” catcher Shea Robin said. “Every team in here is one of the top 64 teams in the country, and there is no reason to take them lightly.”
The other national seeds, in order, are: Rice (49-12), North Carolina (48-12), Texas (44-15), Arizona State (43-13), Florida State (47-11), Arkansas (41-19) and San Diego (43-16). As national seeds, those teams won’t have to face each other unless they make it to the College World Series.
“Back in August, our goal was to get to the College World Series and now we have that opportunity,” said Florida State coach Mike Martin, who’s in his 28th season and looking for his first national title. “We’ve got a chance to play all our games right at home and that’s the reward that we get for what we accomplished during the regular season.”
All 16 of the host schools selected Sunday are No. 1 seeds in their regionals. The other top seeds are: Coastal Carolina (48-11), Long Beach State (37-18), Mississippi (37-23), Missouri (40-16), South Carolina (42-18), Texas A&M (44-16), Virginia (43-14) and Wichita State (49-19).
“The committee spent a great deal of time on the seeding process, more so than I’ve ever been involved in from Nos. 9 to 16,” Division I selection committee chairman Larry Templeton said. “It seemed that 1 through 8 came together fairly easy, but who the other eight seeds were, we spent a great deal of time on.”
The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played from June 8 to 11. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 15 in Omaha, Neb.
The Atlantic Coast Conference led the tournament field with seven teams. Joining Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia are Clemson, Miami, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
The Big 12 had six teams, with Baylor, Nebraska and Oklahoma State joining Missouri, Texas and Texas A&M.
After getting eight berths last season and nine in 2005 and 2004, the SEC got just five teams. It’s the fewest for the conference since getting four in 1994, five years before the NCAA expanded the tournament from 48 to 64 teams.
“I’m not happy the Southeastern Conference only got five, but I respect the other nine people on our committee that made that decision,” said Templeton, also the athletic director at Mississippi State. “The majority of the committee felt that we should go a different direction, and I support that move.”
Miami (36-22) is making its 35th straight tournament appearance to extend its NCAA record. Meanwhile, Brown (27-19) is making its first appearance after winning the Ivy League title.
Defending national champion Oregon State (38-17) received an at-large bid, and looks to join Texas (1949-50), Southern California (1970-74), Stanford (1987-88) and LSU (1996-97) as back-to-back winners. The Beavers are the No. 3 seed in the Charlottesville, Va., regional, and will open against Big East tournament champion Rutgers (41-19).
Georgia Tech, with an RPI of 29, joined Georgia as the only schools who played in last year’s College World Series that failed to make the field of 64. The Yellow Jackets (32-25) were one of 10 teams the committee considered for the last three or four spots.
“They were there at the end, and it was just a tough decision,” Templeton said.
Tennessee, Oklahoma, the College of Charleston and Gonzaga were also among the final teams considered.
Wofford (30-31) is the only team in the field with a losing record after winning the Southern Conference championship for the first time in school history. The Terriers open against South Carolina in the Columbia regional.