Editor's note: This article originally ran in May of 2013 and has been updated and re-run as this year's college world series gets under way:
A flurry of college baseball is coming your way, and unless you want to be as confused as a pre-frosh at orientation, you had better be up on the intricacies of the NCAA Baseball Championship.
Confusion is to the NCAA as Antonio Cromartie is to newborns- that is to say they are inextricably linked. Out of bats, balls and gloves they managed to forge a bracket of pure puzzlement only a fool tries to understand; take our hand as we walk through this maze together in search for a light at the end of the tunnel and the cornfields of Omaha.
Entering into this labyrinth, we see a field of 64 teams. This contingent is comprised of the 30 Division I conference champions who receive automatic berths and followed by the 34 at-large selections. Of these 64 teams, eight are given National Seeds. Seems pretty simple, right? All you have to do from here is construct a bracket that will inevitably crumble to pieces as your lifeless body follows suit in your best friends’ living room while watching Duke make a premature, but predictable, tournament exit. WRONG. This is not college basketball. This is not Adam Morrison crying. This is college baseball. And there is no crying in baseball.
There are three tiers of competition in this tournament: Regionals, Super Regionals, and the College World Series. This is a double-elimination tournament, meaning a team could conceivably lose four games and still be crowned champion… This seems like a bit of a stretch.
Regionals are held in 16 national locations and consists of four teams at each location seeded one through four. The 16 locations are determined through merit. Merit meaning how much money the NCAA can make from the specific locale. But most number one seeds will host a Regional. Each regional field features four teams, playing in a double-elimination format. All 16 regionals are scheduled to be conducted from Friday, May 29 to Monday, June 1 (if necessary).
The winner of each Regional will move on to the Super Regionals. If any of the eight National Seeds advance from Regionals, they will host Super Regionals at their home site. In the likely occurrence not all eight teams make it past the carnage, the NCAA chooses a location based, again, on merit. Selection of the eight super regional hosts will be announced at approximately 11 p.m. ET June 1.
By this time, there are 16 surviving teams playing at eight various sites. So we get to see two teams at eight sites, playing a best-of-three series for a berth to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Also to note:
- National Seeds cannot face each other at the Super Regional level
- One school hosts all three games
- The teams split home-team status in the first two games, with the host school batting last in the opening game and first in game 2.
- If a third game is needed, a coin toss determines home-team status.
Pretty simple stuff.
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
If my math holds true, eight teams advance from the Super Regionals and meet to play in the CWS.
The CWS imitates the insanity of the earlier rounds. It consists of two double-elimination brackets of four teams each. The winners of each bracket meet in a best-of-three final. The winner of the final series has successfully navigated this beast and is crowned National Champion.
The Regional rounds begin May 29th and eventually the CWS will kick-off on June 13th at the TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska.
After reading this, feel confident telling your co-workers a National Seed always hosts Super Regionals, take solace in scolding your daughter for incorrectly saying 65 teams make the tournament, and be proud you now understand the insanity of all this.