2022 NCAA Baseball Regionals Breakdown: Dissecting the College Baseball Field & Regional Hosts
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: The college baseball national championship trophy.
The road to Omaha starts now.
After an incredible week of conference tournaments, the NCAA selection committee finalized its choices of 64 teams for the NCAA Regionals field.
With all 16 host sites announced, Action Network broke down what fans and bettors need to know about each site host, as well as where all 64 teams will be playing.
As we inch closer to first pitch on Friday, be sure to check back to see Doug Ziefel‘s top College World Series futures and Collin Wilson‘s full NCAA Regionals betting preview, along with moneyline and total projections for each game.
About the Host: The decision to make Tennessee the No. 1 overall seed was the easiest choice by the NCAA.
A top overall ranking in RPI and an SEC Championship leaves little doubt that this is the team to beat in Omaha. The Volunteers finished the season winning 12 of their final 13 games, with a series loss to Kentucky being the only blemish on the schedule.
After multiple years as an assistant at Arkansas, Tony Vitello has built a powerhouse in Knoxville. The Vols finished the season ranked best in Division I in numerous categories such as home runs per nine innings, slugging, WHIP and ERA.
Chase Dollander, a transfer from Georgia Southern, recently took over starting duties on Friday nights. Chase Burns is the recent Saturday starter, racking up nearly 100 strikeouts in 72.1 innings pitched. The X-factor is Blade Tidwell, as the fireballer has been a boost to the Volunteers since returning midseason.
Tennessee is by far the best team in college baseball, as the top overall seed is expected to be a heavy favorite through the College World Series championship series.
About the Host: The Cardinal started Pac-12 play 1-5, but conference coach of the year David Esquer made one key adjustment that has changed their season and helped them to win the conference title: moving No. 2 starter and lefty Quinn Matthews to the bullpen.
Instead of starting him on Sundays where he could only affect one game per series, using him to close games and in long relief (sometimes going the distance from the fourth inning) has been more helpful and made their biggest weakness — the bullpen — much stronger.
The Cardinal are unequivocally the hottest team heading into the postseason, as they have won 16 consecutive games after last night’s 9-5 win in the Pac-12 Championship over Oregon State while also winning the Pac-12 regular season crown.
Ace Alex Williams, who won Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year over Cooper Hjerpe, has been one of the hottest pitchers in all of college baseball, allowing just seven total earned runs over 72.1 innings since the beginning of April.
Oh, and the Cardinal have the best bats outside of Knoxville with likely top-50 pick Brock Jones, Pac-12 home run leader Carter Graham, Pac-12 batting leader Brett Barrera and top 2024 prospect (per FanGraphs) Braden Montgomery leading the charge.
Their lineup is relentless and offers no easy outs. After a heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt in Omaha last year, Stanford has its eyes on going all the way with a better team this year.
About the Host: The road to Omaha will once again go through Corvallis.
The Beavers are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. They entered the Pac-12 Tournament ninth in the nation in ERA and first in fielding percentage.
Their lineup may have ranked just 53rd in batting average, but they put on multiple offensive displays throughout the season.
They have plenty of star power as well. Jacob Melton and Justin Boyd provided plenty of offensive support for a staff that was led by stud lefty Copper Hjerpe, who finished third in the nation in strikeouts. Those three are going to be household names by the end of the month, as the Beavers are poised to make a deep run.
About the Host: The Hokies finished the regular season No.2 in D1 Baseball’s rankings, and while they may not be a traditional contender, their title aspirations are as real as any.
Virginia Tech bashed their way to the national spotlight as they ranked fourth in home runs per game and 14th in batting average.
However, ace Drue Hackenberg, along with relievers Kiernan Higgins and Jonah Hurney, cannot be glanced over as they helped Virginia Tech go 19-9 in a loaded ACC this season.
Whoever winds up in Blackburg will have a hard time knocking off the Hokies, who went 29-5 at home with a tailor-made lineup for their hitter-friendly park.
College Station Regional
About the Host: The list of accomplishments for first-year head coach Jim Schlossnagle is endless.
A two-decade career at UNLV and TCU saw the coach collect multiple Coach of the Year awards, Big 12 and Mountain West Championships while making five trips to the NCAA Super Regionals.
This Texas A&M team has an excellent chance to make the College World Series for the seventh time in program history.
With a top-25 RPI and strength of schedule, the Aggies have been a tough out the entire season by losing in back-to-back games just once this season. Every stick in the lineup is a tough out, with a rank of 27th in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The name in the lineup to watch for is Dylan Rock, leading the team in triple crown categories along with steals. Micah Dallas, starting pitcher ace transfer from Texas Tech, leads the team in all pitching categories and is the key for this Aggies team on the road to Omaha.
Coral Gables Regional
About the Host: One of many ACC teams in postseason play, the Miami Hurricanes will look for lightning in a bottle on their path to Omaha.
Head coach Gino DiMare will take Miami to a third consecutive NCAA Regional after stumbling down the stretch. Miami lost six of their last eight games to other postseason teams such as Florida State, Notre Dame, NC State and Wake Forest. Thanks to an RPI of 16th and an 11-8 record against the top 25, the Hurricanes will play host with a 28-8 record at Mark Light Field.
The strength of the Hurricanes comes from the pitching staff, led by southpaw Carson Palmquist. The sophomore finished 21st nationally in strikeouts and 23rd in walks per nine innings. Predominantly the Friday night starter for the Canes, Miami is a frequent side bet during Game 1 of each series.
Miami has plenty of talent to win games by generating runs in multiple ways. Yohandy Morales, a 2021 Freshman All-American third baseman, leads a team that ranks top-40 rank in home runs per game, runs, sacrifice flies and slugging percentage.
About the Host: A run in the Big 12 Tournament concluding in two games against Texas did enough to push Oklahoma State’s RPI into the top 10. The Pokes have mixed results at home, going 18-10 overall and recently being swept by Texas Tech at O’Brate Stadium. The Cowboys finished the season 9-6 against the RPI Top 25 heading into Regionals.
Oklahoma State is an elite defensive school with a top-15 rank in fielding percentage. Matching that with a top-10 rank in strikeouts per nine, pitching and defense is enough to cover the Cowboys when the bats go on freeze.
When the Pokes are hitting, the trio of Nolan McLean, Jake Thompson and Griffin Doersching have combined for 41 home runs this season.
Josh Holliday is in his 11th season as the head coach in Stillwater, looking to get the Pokes to the 21st College World Series appearance.
About the Host: Another season of East Carolina baseball finds the AAC champions in the postseason. Since 1964, the Pirates have made a Regional 32 times and advanced to the Supers on six different occasions. East Carolina has yet to travel to Omaha and compete in the College World Series, however.
Head coach Cliff Godwin will attempt to make a Super Regional for the fourth time in his eight years while coaching in Greenville.
The Pirates must execute against the top teams in the nation, an issue in 2022 when posting a 2-7 record against the RPI top 50. The strength of the Pirates comes in the pitching staff, specifically reliever Garrett Saylor and his 96 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. Saylor has appeared in 35 games this season, generally never lasting more than four innings in relief of Jake Hunter and Ryder Giles.
With the offensive lineup ranking outside the top 100 in home runs per nine and on-base percentage, the Pirates’ success relies solely upon the pitching.
About the Host: It shouldn’t be a surprise that the preseason No. 1 team will be hosting a Regional. However, the Longhorns’ season was not all smooth sailing as they suffered a significant loss when starter Tanner Witt went down, and they got upset a handful of times.
Make no mistake, this Texas team is still one of the most potent in the country. Behind Golden Spikes Finalist Ivan “Hispanic Titanic” Melendez, the Longhorns finished the season third in the nation in batting average and sixth in home runs per game.
However, they’re not just mashers, as ace Pete Hansen has been one of the best pitchers in the country this year. He finished the year 10-1 and had many notable performances against some stout Big 12 lineups.
Texas has persevered and still has more than enough weapons to compete for a national title.
Chapel Hill Regional
About the Host: There may not be another team in the NCAA Tournament on a heater as much as the Tar Heels. Winners of 15 of their last 17 games, including an ACC Championship, North Carolina is looking for its first-ever national championship despite 11 trips to Omaha.
Scott Forbes heads to his second Regional in as many years as head coach after serving as an assistant since 2006.
The overall statistics don’t jump off the page for a team that finished third in the RPI and second in strength of schedule. The Heels are just 96th in fielding percentage, 119th in on-base percentage and do not have a single pitcher in the top 150 nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Despite the season numbers, the roster has become flammable. Starting pitcher Brandon Schaeffer threw a complete game shutout in limiting Virginia Tech to six hits in the ACC Tournament.
The bullpen has been solid, shutting down Florida State in the regular-season series and NC State in the ACC Championship game.
This is the hottest team heading into post-season play and should be bet accordingly.
About the Host: The college baseball world will be welcomed to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is the home of the Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss is built on its pitching staff, which ranks second to only Tennessee. It finished the season with the second-best staff ERA and had the best team strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Eagles rode their exceptional staff all season long and used it to build quite the resume. Not only did they dominate their own conference, but they had a nonconference RPI ranking of eighth.
Overall, Southern Miss is a very deserving program, but I have doubts about its title hopes, as it doesn’t have much pop when runs are put up against it. We saw this in the Conference USA Tournament, as they lost to a potent UTSA team that has a tremendous lineup top to bottom. The uptick in talent in the postseason could be a reality check for the Golden Eagles.
About the Host: If there’s a Regional team that needs to host for success, the Louisville Cardinals have a fighting chance at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Head coach Dan McConnell, in his 16th season, has not had any success outside of Louisville, posting an 8-9 record away from home. In a loaded ACC conference, the Cardinals lost just six games at home this season.
Louisville struggles from a team ERA and FIP perspective, as the offense is often relegated to scoring as many runs as needed. The Cardinals are top 20 in on-base, slugging and batting average.
Dalton Rushing is the key piece of the offense to send the Cardinals to their sixth College World Series appearance since 2007.
About the Host: Florida was one of the teams that benefitted greatly from its conference tournament. The Gators made a run to the SEC Championship before losing to Tennessee, but they raised their RPI by 10 spots in the process.
While their recent run may have been impressive, their postseason outlook is not the brightest of all the host teams. The Gators went 5-12 against the RPI top 25 and 15-15 in SEC play.
The loss of standout starter Hunter Barco was a colossal blow, but Brandon Sproat and Brandon Neely have risen to the occasion and are prime examples of how resilient this club is.
What’s gotten the Gators to this point and what could propel them even further is the amount of pop throughout their lineup. Wyatt Langford and Jud Fabian led the Gators to the No. 10 spot in homers per game.
Don’t sleep on the Gators. They may have gotten hot at the right time.
About the Host: The snubbing of Notre Dame is a surprise to Auburn, as the SEC will host four of the 16 regionals. The committee took into account the Tigers’ rank of 14th in RPI and record of 13-10 against top-50 teams.
Despite a rank outside the top 100 in home runs per nine, Auburn has the most potent long-ball hitter in the nation with Sonny DiChiara. The remainder of the roster has a rank outside the top 100 in slugging, relying on a pitching staff that ranks 24th in strikeouts per nine and 12th in fielding percentage.
Auburn lost three of its final four games to a surging Kentucky team that challenged for the SEC title. Before those losses, Auburn lost home series to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Middle Tennessee.
Head coach Butch Thompson is no stranger to post-season play, last taking the Tigers to Omaha in 2019.
College Park Regional
About the Host: Maryland is in a prime spot to make the College World Series in Omaha after exiting the Big Ten Tournament with consecutive losses to Michigan and Indiana.
The Terrapins compiled an RPI of ninth but a strength of schedule outside the top 100, as a lack of Big Ten teams in the postseason is a continuing issue. Maryland finished 1-3 against teams in the RPI top 25 with a single March victory over Dallas Baptist.
Where Maryland makes a living is at the plate with plenty of pop in the offensive lineup. The Terrapins rank top-10 nationally in home runs per nine, runs, slugging and on-base percentage.
The pitcher to watch for when making an investment is righthand Jason Savacool. Pitching on Sunday most of the season, Savacool is an innings eater who has thrown on Saturdays and most recently a Friday in the last series of the year against Michigan. The sophomore has thrown seven innings in 11 of his 14 starts this season, giving plenty of relief to the Terrapin bullpen.
Keep an eye on totals for the Maryland Regional, as the Terrapins scored the bulk of their season runs on the road, carrying one of the lowest park factors number at Shipley Field.
About the Host: The Eagles dominated the Sun Belt during the 2022 season, finishing 23-7 with only a single series loss to Coastal Carolina.
Georgia Southern enters postseason play with an RPI in the top 10 thanks to a nonconference strength of schedule rank of third. A record of 2-6 against the RPI top 25, including a sweeping loss against Tennessee, leaves questions as to how deep Georgia Southern can go in the postseason.
The lineup has middling numbers from a national rank perspective, although a rank of second in sacrifice bunts and eighth in fielding percentage will put an emphasis on glove work through regionals.
Ty Fisher will be the opening starter for the Eagles, but the pitching staff, as a whole, has one of the lower ranks of all teams in the postseason in strikeouts per nine, ERA and WHIP.