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2015 NCAA Baseball Tournament Bracket: Seven SEC Teams, But Only Two National Seeds

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Texas A&M and Vanderbilt somehow both get left out of the top eight seeds in the national tournament, while the SEC has its smallest number of contenders in seven years

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA baseball tournament brackets are out, and there were some -- um -- surprises when it came to SEC teams. Not so much when it comes to which teams made the field. In addition to already-announced regional hosts Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, the SEC got Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss into the field.

The total of seven bids marks the smallest number of teams from the current membership of the SEC (i.e., including Texas A&M and Missouri) since 2007, and makes this year the fourth time since 2002 that at least eight contemporary members of the conference haven't made the tournament. It was a top-heavy year for baseball in the conference, and when you add in things like the slide of South Carolina, the number wasn't unexpected.

What was more than a bit surprising was that only LSU and Florida got national seeds, which gives a team home-field advantage until the College World Series in Omaha. (You could also quibble with LSU's No. 2 seeding, but getting a national seed is more important that where you fall among the top eight teams.) Texas A&M and Vanderbilt were both seen as candidates for a national seed, and almost everyone assumed that one of them would get in.

Instead, neither got in. Selection committee chairman Dave Heeke explained this on the ESPNU selection show by invoking "performance" as some word that stopped all discussion. Which is nice; when it comes to judging baseball teams, you would rather they use performance than the quality of local pastry shops. But Heeke didn't really elaborate much, and it almost seemed as if he explanation was "because we wanted to."

Heeke later explained in a Periscope livestream -- no, I'm not making this up -- with hand-picked questions that Missouri State got in because it was a good baseball team that won its conference regular-season and tournament titles, but the question that was selected allowed him to avoid the issue of leaving Texas A&M out on the merits of Texas A&M.

The Aggies -- and I'm focusing on them here because they had the stronger case than Vanderbilt -- currently have higher RPIs than four national seeds, according to Boyd's World: Missouri State, TCU, Illinois and Louisville. One of the biggest reaches for a national seed was Illinois at No. 11, which also puts it behind Vanderbilt. One could point out that Jim Delany threatened a few years ago to try to blow up the current regional system because he felt like B1G teams were at a disadvantage because of how much they had to travel. Illinois, for the record, is paired with Vanderbilt's Nashville Regional for the super regional round. (Note: Paragraph has been edited. I had missed Louisville, which is No. 13. HT: Doug Keegan)

The complete list of national seeds: (1) UCLA, (2) LSU, (3) Louisville, (4) Florida, (5) Miami (FL), (6) Illinois, (7) TCU and (8) Missouri State.

In any case, here are the regionals for the SEC teams. A reminder that No. 1 plays No. 4 and No. 2 plays No. 3 in the first round. The regionals are double-elimination. The full bracket is here.

Baton Rouge Regional (paired with Houston Regional)
1 LSU
2 UNC Wilmington
3 Tulane
4 Lehigh

Tallahassee Regional (paired with Gainesville Regional)
1 Florida State
2 College of Charleston
3 Auburn
4 Mercer

Gainesville Regional (paired with Tallahassee Regional)
1 Florida
2 Florida Atlantic
3 South Florida
4 Florida A&M

College Station Regional (paired with Fort Worth Regional)
1 Texas A&M
2 Coastal Carolina
3 Cal
4 Texas Southern

Nashville Regional (paired with Bloomington Regional)
1 Vanderbilt
2 Radford
3 Indiana
4 Lipscomb

Los Angeles Regional (paired with Lake Elsinore, Calif.)
1 UCLA
2 Ole Miss
3 Maryland
4 Bakersfield

Stillwater Regional (paired with Springfield, Mo.)
1 Oklahoma State
2 Arkansas
3 Oral Roberts
4 St. John's (NY)

Why is Ole Miss being shipped across the country to play at UCLA while fellow two-seed Oregon State heads to Dallas? No idea. That is one of several puzzling things about the set-up of the bracket.

And here is the Friday schedule for SEC teams. The full schedule for the tournament is here.

Auburn vs. College of Charleston, Noon ET, ESPN3
Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas, 1 p.m. ET, SEC Network
LSU vs. Lehigh, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Florida vs. Florida A&M, 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Maryland vs. Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Texas A&M vs. Texas Southern, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Vanderbilt vs. Lipscomb, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3