Despite finishing seventh in the ACC regular season and being eliminated in the ACC tournament pool play, Georgia Tech rode its regular-season strength of schedule into the NCAA baseball tournament when the 64-team field was announced Monday.
The Yellow Jackets were placed in the Vanderbilt regional with the No. 2-seeded Commodores, Illinois and East Tennessee State, the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champion. Tech (34-25) will open at 2 p.m. Friday in Nashville, Tenn., against Illinois (34-18) as the Jackets make their 27th appearance in the tourney in the past 29 years.
North Carolina (52-8) was anointed the No. 1 seed, and joined ACC mates Virginia and Florida State among the top eight seeds. The Tar Heels will attempt to be the first No. 1 seed to go through the tourney and win the title since Miami in 1999. The other national seeds, in order, are: Vanderbilt, Oregon State, LSU, Cal State-Fullerton, Virginia, Florida State and Oregon.
The tournament opens Friday with 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals. Best-of-three super regionals will be held next week, with those winners moving to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
The SEC led all leagues with nine bids. The ACC has eight, and the Pac-12 and Sun Belt have four apiece. Arizona (34-21) won’t get a chance to defend its national title.
Miami (36-23) is in the tournament field for the 41st year in a row, extending its own record. FSU (44-15) is making its 36th consecutive appearance.
First-time participants will be Bryant, Canisius, Central Arkansas, Savannah State and South Dakota State. Bryant (44-16-1), from Smithfield, R.I., made it in its first year of eligibility since moving from Division II.
Tech is No. 23 in the latest RPI with a No. 2 strength of schedule. Six of their victories came against the three ACC teams in the top eight seeds (two victories each against North Carolina, Virginia and FSU).
Among state teams, Mercer also made the field based on a strong RPI and strength of schedule and will play in the Mississippi State regional in Starkville, Miss., with its first game Friday against South Alabama. Savannah State will play FSU the Tallahassee regional Friday.