SEC Tournament win keeps LSU’s hosting chances alive

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Josh Smith

Sunday night, the NCAA will announce the 16 schools who have earned the right to host regional tournaments. On Monday, we will find out seedings and the rest of the 64-team field.

In between, there’s plenty of opportunity to debate, speculate and make educated guesses about what the NCAA baseball committee will decide.

Here’s the quick version of what we know about postseason baseball in Louisiana: LSU is a lock to be in the field of 64 and is right on the fence as a regional host, Southern is in at the SWAC tournament champion, Louisiana Tech is squarely on the bubble and everyone else – those still playing, that is – needs to win their conference tournament this week.

When LSU fell behind 5-1 in the second inning against South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC Tournament Tuesday night, the Tigers’ hosting opportunities were looking bleak.

But the Tigers’ offense did enough and the bullpen responded for an 8-6 victory, moving fifth-seeded LSU into the double-elimination portion of the tournament, beginning Wednesday night against Mississippi State.

The latest projections from D1Baseball and Baseball America both have Paul Mainieri’s club on the outside looking in – just barely – with regards to being a top 16 seed and regional host.

In both projections, LSU is headed to the regional bracket of the No. 16 national seed – UC Santa Barbara, according to D1Baseball (more on that in a moment), and Miami, according to Baseball America.

UCSB’s facility does not have lights and thus fails to meet NCAA hosting requirements, so they have reportedly bid to host a regional in – wait for it – the new Class AAA ballpark in Las Vegas.

If the Gauchos host in Vegas and LSU gets sent there as the No. 2 seed, start lining up the charter flights out of Baton Rouge. In a sparkling new 9,000-seat ballpark in Sin City, there will be many more Tiger fans than UCSB fans in attendance.

While LSU has won five of its last six games, it’s more about what others have done in the last week than what the Tigers haven’t done.

For instance, take SEC West rival Texas A&M, who just won a series over Arkansas on the final weekend of the regular season. They have moved into a host spot.

Or NC State, which went across the triangle on the final weekend and took a series from North Carolina.

LSU can obviously help its case by winning another game or two in Hoover this week, particularly when it squares off against one of the likely top 8 national seeds like Mississippi State or Vanderbilt. Those wins will go a long way.

But Tiger fans also need to keep an eye on A&M on the other side of the bracket and NC State and Miami in the ACC Tournament. (A little help – in the crazy four-pod ACC bracket, neither team plays until Thursday.) UCSB does not have a conference tournament in the Big West; it hosts Cal Poly in a three-game series Thursday through Saturday.

Both brackets have the same host teams in the 13-16 slots, just in different orders – A&M, Miami, NC State and UCSB.

As for the rest of the state:

Tulane opened the American Athletic Conference tournament with a 5-2 victory over UCF late Tuesday night behind the arm of Kaleb Roper, who threw 136 pitches in a complete game.

The biggest game of the season for the Green Wave is Thursday night against Cincinnati for a chance to get to the driver’s seat on their side of the bracket.

The Southland and Conference USA tournaments begin on Wednesday.

No. 2 seed Southeastern Louisiana would be the best in-state chance to win the Southland title, but if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that anyone can beat anyone when the top eight Southland teams gather in Sugar Land, Texas.

Northwestern State is the defending champion. McNeese is also in the field, while UNO and Nicholls failed to qualify this year.

In Biloxi, Louisiana Tech will try to make a late push for the field of 64. The projections have the Bulldogs among the first handful of teams outside the bracket.

Short of winning the tournament, Tech’s best chance is to win its bracket and lose to Florida Atlantic in the final.

Also in action this week is the Sun Belt, where UL Lafayette and ULM moved on in the tournament with victories Tuesday. The Ragin’ Cajuns and Warhawks survived the single-elimination round to move into the double-elimination portion of the bracket beginning Wednesday, but their reward, respectively, is Georgia Southern and Texas State, the tournament’s top two seeds.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

Sales/Content/Production

Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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