Southern Fried College Baseball Playoffs

There will be 64 college baseball teams participating in this week’s first round of the NCAA Division 1 baseball tournament.  Each team would love to eventually bring home the national title from the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska during June.

This weekend’s opening round features 16 regional site locations which will host a “pod” comprised of four teams apiece.  The first NCAA playoff games will begin on Friday, May 31 around the country.

But mostly in the South.

Would you believe that thirteen of the sixteen regional host sites are located south of the Mason Dixon line?

Eight of the last nine NCAA college baseball champions have come from the South, too.

The SEC has produced the last four College World Series winners.  LSU is the defending champion after winning the title in 2023.  Prior to that, it was Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt which have kept the NCAA title within the SEC family.

Southern fried college baseball is on the menu this weekend 

Let’s take a look at every host regional city, the home team (ranked by its national seed) along with the other teams competing in each region:

1.  Knoxville, TN – #1 seed Tennessee plus #2 seed Southern Miss, #3 Indiana, and #4 Northern Kentucky

2.  Lexington, KY – #1 seed Kentucky plus #2 Indiana State, #3 Illinois, and #4 Western Michigan

3.  College Station, TX – #1 seed Texas A&M plus #2 Louisiana-Lafayette, #3 Texas, and #4 Grambling State University

4.  Chapel Hill, NC – #1 seed North Carolina plus #2 LSU, #3 Wofford (S. Carolina), and #4 Long Island University

5.  Fayetteville, AR – #1 seed Arkansas plus #2 Louisiana Tech, #3 Kansas State, and #4 Southeast Missouri State

6.  Clemson, SC – #1 seed Clemson plus #2 Vanderbilt, #3 Coastal Carolina, and #4 High Point (NC)

7.  Athens, GA – #1seed Georgia plus #2 UNC-Wilmington, #3 Georgia Tech, and #4 Army

8.  Tallahassee, FL – #1 seed Florida State plus #2 Alabama, #3 UCF, and #4 Stetson

9.  Norman, OK – #1 seed Oklahoma plus #2 Duke, #3 UConn, and #4 Oral Roberts

10.  Raleigh, NC – #1 seed North Carolina State plus #2 South Carolina, #3 James Madison, and #4 Bryant University (Rhode Island)

11.  Stillwater, OK – #1 seed Oklahoma State plus #2 Nebraska, #3 Florida, and #4 Niagara University

12.  Charlottesville, VA – #1 seed Virginia plus #2 Mississippi State, #3 St. John’s, and #4 Penn

13.  Tucson, AZ – #1 seed Arizona plus #2 Dallas Baptist, #3 West Virginia, and #4 Grand Canyon University (AZ)

14.  Santa Barbara, CA – #1 seed UC-Santa Barbara plus #2 San Diego University, #3 Oregon, and #4 Fresno State

15.  Corvallis, OR – #1 seed Oregon State plus #2 UC Irvine, #3 Nicholls State (LA), and #4 Tulane

16.  Greenville, NC – #1 seed East Carolina plus #2 Wake Forest, #3 VCU, and #4 Evansville


Of the 64 teams participating in the NCAA baseball regional games this weekend, a record 11 teams come from the Southeastern Conference.  This eclipsed the previous record of ten teams – also from the SEC – set just a year ago in 2023.

Four of the five top overall seeds in the NCAA baseball tournament are from the SEC as well.  Tennessee is ranked #1 followed by #2 Kentucky, #3 Texas A&M, and #5 Arkansas.  The #4 national seed comes from the Atlantic Coast Conference as the University of North Carolina will try to break the SEC’s recent stranglehold on the NCAA men’s baseball trophy.

The top non-Southern teams hosting national regional events this weekend will be #13 Arizona, #14 UC-Santa Barbara, and #15 Oregon State.

In addition to the 11 SEC teams in this year’s baseball championship field, there will be eight teams representing the ACC, six from the Big 12, four from the Sun Belt, three teams apiece from the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences, and two each from the American, Big East, Big West, Conference USA and Missouri Valley Conferences.

The states of North Carolina and Louisiana have the most baseball teams in the field

The top state for producing NCAA tournament teams in 2024 will be North Carolina.  Seven college baseball teams (University of North Carolina, NC State, UNC-Wilmington, High Point University, Duke, East Carolina, and Wake Forest) are competing for the national title.

Louisiana surprised many by getting six teams into this year’s field.  Defending College World Series champion LSU will be joined by Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nicholls State, Tulane, and Grambling this year.

Let’s take a closer look at the Pelican State’s baseball entries

The LSU Tigers (now 40-21) caught fire in the final month of the season to avoid being left out of the field entirely.  LSU rallied to go 18-6 in its final 24 games and finished a close second to #1 national seed Tennessee in last weekend’s SEC baseball tournament.

“Yeah, very proud of our team this week,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson. “Accomplished a lot this week with four wins in the toughest league and toughest tournament in baseball.  We had two dominant pitching performances. We had two dominant offensive performances, and came up a little bit short.”

The 2023 defending champion LSU Tigers earned a #2 regional seed and will play #3 seed Wofford (Spartanburg, SC) on Friday morning at 11AM CDT in the Chapel Hill regional in North Carolina.  The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

Conference USA regular season champion Louisiana Tech finished with an excellent 45-17 record.

The Diamond Dogs are heading north to Arkansas this weekend as the #2 seed in the Fayetteville region.  Louisiana Tech will play #3 seed Kansas State at 7PM CDT.  That game will be televised by ESPN+.

Located just six miles to the west of Ruston and Louisiana Tech via I-20, Grambling State University roared back from the loser’s bracket to beat Jackson State and win the Southwest Athletic Conference baseball tournament.

The G-Men (now 26-26) won four games in a row to punch their ticket to the NCAA baseball regionals in College Station, Texas.  Playing in the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time since 2010, #4 seed Grambling will face #1 regional seed Texas A&M on Friday at 12Noon.  The game will be televised by ESPN+.

Southland Conference champion Nicholls State from Thibodaux, Louisiana (38-20) will travel to Corvallis, Oregon on Friday.

The Colonels will play the Anteaters of UC-Irvine Friday at 3PM CDT with television available on ESPN+.

The Tulane Green Wave had the most dramatic game to gain a spot in this week’s NCAA baseball field.

The Greenies (now 35-24) hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the American Athletic Conference tournament finale to beat Wichita State 11-10.  Tulane will join Nicholls State in the Corvallis, Oregon regional this weekend and play host Oregon State in Game 1 on Friday night at 8PM CDT.  The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Ragin’ Cajuns of UL-Lafayette finished with a 40-18 record but lost in the Sunbelt Tournament last week.

Based on their strength of schedule, the Cajuns earned a #2 seed at the College Station regional and will face the University of Texas Longhorns in Friday’s opener at 5PM CDT on ESPN2.

Speaking of Southern schools playing baseball this weekend…

Birmingham-Southern College will permanently close its doors on Friday, May 31.

The small private school was founded in 1856 and has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church.  The enrollment at this liberal arts college had dwindled to less than 1,000 students this semester as the school faced one financial hurdle after another in recent years.  An appeal to the Alabama legislature for money fell on deaf ears as public sector money cannot be used to bail-out a private college.

The Birmingham-Southern men’s baseball team has won five straight games and improved its record to 32-14.  This team isn’t ready to let their college’s baseball program come to an end.   The Panthers won a thrilling 7-6 finale in the D-III Super Regionals last weekend to advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series in East Lake, Ohio this weekend.

Ironically, Birmingham-Southern’s first game in the D-III College World Series will be played on the same day (Friday, May 31) their school is closing.

If the school is broke, who will pay for Birmingham-Southern’s trip to the D-III World Series?

A Go Fund Me account was started recently with a goal of raising $100,000 for Birmingham-Southern’s run in the NCAA Division III post-season baseball tournament.  This week, the Poarch tribe of Creek Indians in the state of Alabama made a generous donation of $25,000 to help push the team over its goal.

This donation helped the team to charter an airplane and have comfortable accommodations at the D-III College World Series starting Friday in Ohio.

Since this is a double-elimination tournament, the 7th-seeded Birmingham-Southern Panthers will play at least one baseball game after their school has officially closed on Friday.   The team’s opening round game on Friday will get underway against #2 seed Salve Regina University from Newport, Rhode Island as the students and faculty are exiting the school for the last time that same day.

Birmingham-Southern College hopes their baseball team will have a chance to enjoy a few more “Southern Nights”…in the state of Ohio.