Photo provided by NCAA Baseball
The NCAA has announced the 64-team field for the Division I baseball tournament, with Wake Forest taking the No. 1 overall seed after a standout 47-10 season. Following Wake Forest, the top seeds are Florida, Arkansas, Clemson, LSU, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Stanford.
This year, the SEC dominates the tournament with 10 teams participating and eight hosting regionals. Wake Forest is eyeing its first national championship since 1955 and is well-suited for the task, boasting a team hitting average of .304.
Nick Kurtz leads the Demon Deacons with a .379 average, 23 home runs, and 63 RBI. Brock Wilken contributes 27 homers and 74 RBI, while Rhett Lowder heads up a strong starting rotation with a 13-0 record and 1.69 ERA, as well as 114 strikeouts in 95.2 innings. Wake Forest’s quartet includes No. 2 Maryland, No. 3 Northeastern, and No. 4 George Mason. The competition commences on Friday, alongside the other 15 regionals.
The tournament’s structure begins with a double-elimination regional round, hosted at No. 1 seed’s home fields. The 16 winners move on to compete in groups of eight for best-of-three super regional rounds. Victories there grant passage to the eight-team College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Blame it on the variance of baseball — or some kind of College World Series curse, if you like. No team seeded No. 1 has won the World Series since Miami in 1999. Tennessee is the third straight No. 1 seed not even to make the eight-team World Series, following Arkansas in 2021 and U.C.L.A. in 2019 (the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic).