The NCAA field has been announced, and IU will play Louisville in the regional hosted by the Cardinals. Each of the 16 regionals is hosted by the top seed. IU is the fourth, or lowest, seed. The Louisville regional includes four teams that are relatively local to the site. In addition to IU and UL, the region includes #2 seed Vanderbilt and #3 seed Middle Tennessee State. I don't know a thing about the other three teams, but I'll discuss that here as the games approach. Still, from a geography and interest standpoint, this seems like a fortuitous draw for IU. The upturn in IU's baseball program combined with the advent of the Big Ten Network seems to have increased interest in IU baseball. Hopefully, a good contingent of IU fans will make the trip across the river. Also, let's hope that the athletic department and IU Alumni Association market the crap out of this.
As I said above, I'll have more to say about the opponents later. For now, a quick rundown of the tournament format:
The regionals. Like the basketball tournaments, 64 teams qualify for the tournament. The teams are divided into 16 four-team regionals, and the #1 seed in each regional hosts. Each regional is a self-contained double elimination tournament, and winnows the field to 16 teams.
The super regionals. There are eight super regionals of two teams each, and the winner of each super regional advances to the College World Series in Omaha. Of the 16 #1 seeds that host regionals, eight are designated "national seeds." These eight teams (#1 Texas, #2 Cal State Fullerton, #3 LSU, #4 North Carolina, #5 Arizona State, #6 UC-Irvine, #7 Oklahoma, and #8 Florida) are guaranteed to host the super regional if they make it that far. In IU's case, the winner of the Louisville regional will play the winner of the Cal State Fullerton regional. That means that if IU wins and Fullerton wins, then IU would play at Fullerton. If IU wins and one of the lower seeded teams in Fullerton's bracket (Utah, Gonzaga, and Georgia Southern) wins, then the NCAA would select one of the qualifying teams to host. The super regionals are a best-of-three series. Like any other double elimination tournament, the teams play until every team but one has lost twice.
College World Series. The CWS, played in Omaha, Nebraska every year, includes the eight super regional champions. The field is divided into two four-team, double elimination brackets, and the winners of those brackets play a best-of-three series for the NCAA championship.
Stay tuned this week for looks at Louisville, Vanderbilt, and MTSU as well as game times and the like. EDIT: Per Hoosier Scoop, the games will be a 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a possible Monday game if the winner of the loser's bracket wins on Sunday evening.