ATHENS — Georgia baseball is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years after narrowly missing the field last season and having the 2020 tourney canceled on their No. 2-ranked team as a result of COVID.
The Bulldogs are seeded No. 2 in a North Carolina-hosted regional that includes three conference tournament champions and will start with a 7 p.m. game (ESPN plus stream) against VCU on Friday.
The other teams are certainly hotter than Georgia, which lost six of its last nine games and was eliminated in the first game of the SEC Baseball Tournament last Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.
At least the Bulldogs (35-21, No. 20 national RPI) can claim to be the most rested team headed into the double-elimination four-team bracket.
Defending national champion Mississippi State proved there to be some value in that, going 0-2 in last year’s SEC Baseball Tournament before its College World Series run.
“We’re very excited to still be playing and getting ready to go out and practice now for a real challenging regional,” UGA coach Scott Stricklin said in the school’s release. “Hopefully, our best baseball is ahead of us. We’re going to do a lot of research after practice on VCU. They have been good for a long time.
“We’ll be watching a lot of video; they’ll be watching a lot of video on us. We’ll get to know VCU as good as possible, and it should be a great matchup on Friday.”
Host North Carolina (38-19) is the nation’s No. 10 overall seed even with the No. 4 RPI. The Tar Heels have won seven in a row and 15 of their past 17, including a 9-5 decision over N.C. State on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
It’s the 11th time North Carolina has hosted an NCAA Baseball Tournament regional since 2006.
The VCU team UGA will face on Friday is riding a 15-game win streak after sweeping through the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.
Hoftsra (30-21), the No. 4 seed in the regional, is also coming off a conference tournament championship run having won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on Sunday.
North Carolina and Hofstra will open the regional in Chapel Hill at 2 p.m. on Friday.
The North Carolina regional is paired with the Oklahoma State (No. 7 seed) regional, which also includes Arkansas, Grand Canyon and Missouri State.
Four of the nine SEC teams in the 64-team field are hosting NCAA regionals: No. 1 Tennessee, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 13 Florida, No. 14 Auburn.
The NCAA regionals run from Friday through Monday and Super Regionals are June 10-13. The College World Series starts June 17 in Omaha, Neb.
More information to come as it becomes available