Only incurable seamheads and/or incorrigible gamblers organize NCAA baseball tournament pools, but even if you filled out a bracket purely for entertainment, chances are it's more charred than a burger on the barbie.
Five of the eight national seeds met their demise in the just-completed regionals, matching a record set in 2007. That's as many as were eliminated in the previous four years combined.
Among the top five seeds, No. 3 Virginia is the lone survivor. Oregon State became only the second No. 1 overall seed to exit before the super regionals — baseball's equivalent of basketball's Sweet 16 — since the tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999. Vanderbilt in 2007 was the other.
Florida and Florida State, top-five seeds both, failed to win a game, the Seminoles' first NCAA 0-for since 1984. The Southeastern Conference placed a record 10 teams in the bracket, but only two reached this weekend's super regionals.
The College of Charleston is just the fourth No. 4 regional seed to make the super regionals in the current format's 15 years, and the Cougars won a heavyweight regional that included Florida, North Carolina and Long Beach State.
Moreover, Charleston is the first Colonial Athletic Association team to make a super regional since East Carolina in 2001. Well, sort of.
ECU's final CAA season was 2000-01, and with its intention to join Conference USA transparent, the CAA banned the school from conference tournaments. So after dominating the CAA during the regular season, the Pirates were selected for the NCAA tournament as an at-large, and a No. 6 national seed at that.
Anyway, back to this season's chaos: If Charleston isn't the biggest shock, then Atlantic Sun Conference champion Kennesaw State is. The Owls are the first team since Kansas in 1993 to win a regional in their inaugural tournament appearance.
South Carolina, national champion in 2010 and '11, had won 28 consecutive NCAA tournament games at home before losing to Maryland twice in as many days.
Only Virginia and Maryland remain from the seven ACC squads in the bracket, and their super-regional clash in Charlottesville is the first between ACC teams. The winner of their best-of-3 will give the conference a College World Series representative for the ninth consecutive season.
The SEC owns the longest such CWS streak at 18 seasons, with Vanderbilt and/or Ole Miss hoping to extend. The Pacific 12 is one year behind the SEC with 17 straight years of CWS participation, but the league has only Stanford remaining.
Meanwhile, four of the Big 12's five tournament teams — Texas, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and Oklahoma State — advanced.
And that's just an outline of the regional results that hopefully portend similar commotion at Davenport Field and the seven other super regional venues.
Specifically, Maryland escaped its tournament opener against Old Dominion, 4-3, with a three-run bottom of the ninth in which Monarchs closer Brad Gero hit consecutive batters with consecutive pitches to force home the tying and winning run.
TCU needed 22 innings and nearly seven hours to defeat Sam Houston State 3-2. It was the second-longest game in tournament history — Texas bested Boston College in 25 innings in 2009.
Stanford ended No. 4 overall seed Indiana's season with a 5-4 victory on shortstop Tommy Edman's 2-run, walk-off home run. A freshman switch-hitter, Edman told reporters that it was his first homer ever from the left side, according to the Stanford Daily student newspaper.
Perhaps all the weirdness is prelude to Maryland or Virginia ending the ACC's inexplicable College World Series curse.
Since Wake Forest's 1955 national championship, 42 ACC teams have reached the CWS, including a record four in 2006 and Virginia in 2009 and '11. All left empty, Clemson 12 times, Florida State and North Carolina 10 each.
Playing in its first NCAA tournament since 1971, and representing the ACC for the final time before joining the Big Ten next month, Maryland would be the most bizarre team to end the ACC's hex, especially if the Terps were to encounter Louisville, their ACC replacement, at the CWS in Omaha, Neb. — the Cardinals, who face Kennesaw State in a super regional, are the only World Series team from last season still playing.
But the strong suspicion here is that pitching (three runs allowed in as many regional games) and pedigree (11 consecutive NCAA appearances) will carry Virginia back to Omaha, some chalk to repair a tattered bracket.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun