HOOVER, Ala. | Sometimes the NCAA selection committee will do funny things, but there seems little question that Mississippi State (42-16) will be announced as one of the 16 regional hosts Sunday night.
The No. 16-ranked Bulldogs have solidified an already strong case with two wins in the SEC Tournament. First was the 17-inning, 2-1 win over Missouri on Tuesday, then a 5-3 win over No. 17 South Carolina on Wednesday. It was MSU’s third win over the Gamecocks in four tries this year, having taken two of three from them in Starkville last weekend. Those are quality wins, because SC has an RPI ranking of 13 and is a host candidate as well.
State remains locked in at 10th in the RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com. It’s 20-14 against the RPI top 50. According to the experts, MSU has done enough to earn a hosting bid for the first time in 10 years. Aaron Fitt of Baseball America wrote that the Bulldogs “cemented their case” with the South Carolina win. Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game wrote that MSU solidified its position, and added, “If there were any questions at all about State’s host spot entering Wednesday, they’ve been answered in impressive fashion.”
What other SEC teams will host? LSU and Vanderbilt, of course, and they’ll be national seeds, too. Both Rogers and Mark Etheridge of Southeastern Baseball have South Carolina hosting, but not Arkansas. (Etheridge has Arkansas as a No. 2 seed at Kansas State.) Fitt believes it will be either SC or the Razorbacks hosting, and that their respective performances in Hoover this week could factor in.
MSU announced Wednesday that regional tickets will go on sale Sunday night if the Bulldogs are selected as a host. Athletics director Scott Stricklin wrote in his weekly update that “we’re optimistic about our chances to host an NCAA Regional.” Current season ticket holders and Bulldog Club members will be able to purchase tickets as soon as the regional announcement is made.
So, all signs are pointing to more baseball at Dudy Noble Field this year. As for who will join the Bulldogs, who knows, but Southeastern Baseball is now updating its projected field of 64 daily. The latest projection has MSU hosting with South Alabama, Sam Houston State and Tennessee Tech coming to Starkville.