Tuesday, May 23, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com

Baseball Headed Out West

NCAA Baseball Tournament brackets were announced Monday, and the Hokies will be sent way out west as a part of the four-team bracket that will play at Fullerton, California from May 26-28. Tech is a #4 seed (the bottom seed) in the bracket, which comes as no surprise, because the Hokies are coming out of a very weak league (the A-10) with a so-so record of 34-23-2. Here are the seedings for the bracket, along with the teams' rankings in the latest Baseball America Poll:

  1. Southern California (#13)
  2. Cal State Fullerton (#20)
  3. Loyola Marymount (#12)
  4. Virginia Tech

A couple of thoughts come to mind when looking at those seedings and rankings:

Thought #1: how odd is it that Loyola Marymount is a #3 seed, despite that fact that they're ranked 12th in the country? In the 64-team field, being a #3 seed means that you're somewhere in the range of #33 to #48 in the tournament. That reminds me of the Tech's men's basketball team getting a #9 seed in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, despite being ranked #16 at the time.

For reference, in the two other polls linked on HC's Baseball page, Loyola Marymount is ranked #20 and #21. Sounds like somebody's not getting the respect from the seedings that they no doubt feel they deserve.

(As a sidebar, in perusing the various rankings and the seedings listed on the NCAABaseball.com web site, I noticed that ECU, on the other hand, is getting an inordinate amount of respect. The Pirates are a #1 seed, placing them in the top 16 teams in the tournament, despite that fact that they're only ranked #24 in one of the three baseballs polls that HC links to. They're not ranked at all in the other two polls.)

Thought #2: given that there are 16 of these four-team regionals, it's also strange that three ranked teams should appear in one regional. The average number of ranked teams per regional is less than two (barely over 1.5, as a matter of fact), so to have three of them in one regional is a bit overloaded.

Things don't look good for the undermanned Hokies, who pulled the rabbit out of the hat just by getting this far. But this year is reminiscent of 1997, when a mediocre 30-26 Tech team that barely qualified for the A-10 Tournament proceeded to sweep through the A-10 tourney undefeated and then knock off 11th-ranked USC in the first round of the NCAA's. The Hokies were eliminated shortly after that, losing consecutive games to N.C. State 12-6 and USC 6-2, but at least they gave their fans a thrill before bowing out.

Ironically, three years later, a "mediocre" Tech team that has been crippled by injuries and suspensions has swept through the A-10 Tournament and now meets -- you guessed it -- USC in the first round of the NCAA's. Anything can happen, but with relatively thin pitching, and facing the best in the nation, it's not likely that the Hokies will get very far.

The Hokies play USC on Friday.

(Yawn) GameDay Again?

It has been widely reported on the message board that Jim Weaver has announced at Hokie Club functions that ESPN's GameDay will once again be in Blacksburg next fall, this time for the August 27th BCA game against Georgia Tech. The news was confirmed by the Bluefield (VA) Daily Telegraph in a Monday article.

I said for years that GameDay would never come to Blacksburg. When they finally did show up for Syracuse last year, I was speechless. Then they returned for Miami, and I was flabbergasted. Now, with them coming back a third time, I'm almost embarrassed, and I'm wondering if the rest of the college football world is going to get just a little sick of GameDay being broadcast from Lane Stadium.

Eh, so what if they are. Who cares? I know one thing: having the new video scoreboard (okay, let's just call the thing a Jumbotron, even though the actual board might not be that brand) in place for GameDay will be awesome! So it won't be like the other two times, and if you're thinking about skipping it for that reason don't, because it'll be better.


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