A Couple of Surprises Coming to the “Tigue” – From the Bird’s Nest
Watching the unveiling of the brackets for the NCAA tournament, the anticipation of what names would be heading to Lafayette was, honestly, kind of fun.
Going in, we knew Southern Miss and Tulane would be #2 seeds and there was a chance they'd be heading to the "Tigue." We didn't know if Southeastern would get into the field, but if they did, Lafayette was certainly a possible destination. So was Sam Houston State, although there were a lot of folks who thought Matt Deggs' club might be headed to College Station.
And with what regional would the Cajuns be paired? LSU seemed logical because of geography. Texas A&M certainly made sense. So did Starkville. And yet, there was always the chance the Cajuns could wind up anywhere else.
So, as the field was unveiled, here were my thoughts:
With Florida as the #1 seed, I figured Florida State would be unveiled next and I was right. And the questions about Southern Miss and South Alabama were answered. Because the Golden Eagles and Cajuns were a couple of the last teams considered for hosting, I really thought the boys from Hattiesburg were headed here. And, there wasn't a question if the Jaguars got in, it would be as one of the final teams selected. The fact they were a regular season co-champion with a regional host probably got them in.
When the North Carolina State regional came up next, I knew, based on the way ESPN reveals the bracket, they'd be paired with LSU. I think this was they wanted a solid P5 team paired with the lowest rated national seed. (By the way, the committee did NC State no favors sending Coastal Carolina to Raleigh)
Then we got our answer on Southeastern. I'm really glad they got in. That's a dangerous #3 seed, as Rice will find out. With both of those teams headed to Baton Rouge, I was pretty sure Sam Houston was coming to Lafayette.
And, I thought either Tulane, or possibly Louisiana Tech, would be joining them. And, I"m kind of thinking about the Texas A&M pairing.
Lubbock and Charlottesville were next. And there were no surprises.
There were no regionals in the West this year. Therefore, we knew there would be a migration of teams. To this point, Utah Valley (Baton Rouge) and St. Mary's (Raleigh) has been announced. Arizona State and Gonzaga were announced to Fort Worth.
And the pairing was Texas A&M. Sam Houston State wasn't announced and now I was positive we'd see the Bearkats as the #3 seed. And I was positive we'd be paired with Starkville.
But that still left Tulane and Louisiana Tech. I really thought Tech had worked its way into a #2 seed, based on the way they finished the season.
UC Santa Barbara and Washington were named to Nashville. But there weren't many regional pairings left to unveil and I hadn't seen Cal State Fullerton or Arizona mentioned. I also hadn't seen Utah and I really didn't want them sent to Lafayette as a #4 seed. And, speaking of #4's, the teams I wouldn't have minded seeing (Bethune-Cookman, Western Michigan, Binghamton, Fairfield, Rhode Island and Utah Valley) were gone. I was really happy it wasn't going to be Alabama State Oral Roberts or William and Mary. Western Carolina is usually pretty good. Navy was off the board....thank goodness. That's a dangerous #4 seed.
And, by process of elimination, I'm starting to think it might be Princeton. Or Southeast Missouri State (they've got a really good #1 pitcher).
I still don't think it's going to be a western school as the #2 seed. But then the Cajuns' bracket was revealed.
Arizona. And Princeton. Sam Houston by then was a no brainer.
Then I saw the Mississippi State bracket. And I said "whoa!"
Cal State Fullerton leads the nation in ERA. Louisiana Tech should have been a #2 seed, but they were a #3 in Starkville. And, there was SEMO. That's a really tough regional in my opinion. That being said, Mississippi State is really, really good.
Tulane finally got slotted in Oxford. The Rebels also drew Utah, the surprising Pac-12 champ as the #4 seed. Tulane is there, too.
After the show concluded I chuckled. Because I realized, in the final couple of weeks of the season, I probably spend too much time analyzing what was going to happen.
Because, in the end, the committee is going to do whatever it wants.