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College | Story | 5/29/2011

One huge hosting surprise

Kendall Rogers     

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The NCAA Selection Committee doesn't mind throwing us curveballs.

The committee announced the 16 NCAA Regional host sites on Sunday, and they include Atlanta (Georgia Tech), Austin, Texas (Texas), Fullerton, Calif. (Cal State Fullerton), Chapel Hill, N.C. (North Carolina), Charlottesville, Va. (Virginia), Clemson, S.C. (Clemson), College Station, Texas (Texas A&M), Columbia, S.C. (South Carolina), Corvallis, Ore. (Oregon State), Fort Worth, Texas (TCU), Gainesville, Fla., (Florida), Houston (Rice), Los Angeles (UCLA), Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt), Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State) and Tempe, Ariz. (Arizona State).

The committee, in somewhat surprising fashion, included Clemson, S.C. (Clemson) and Corvallis, Ore. (Oregon State) as NCAA Regional hosts. But the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Los Angeles (UCLA) as a host site.

The Bruins had consistency issues for much of the season, but have finished the regular season on an incredibly high note and are the Pac-10 champions. They also have the top one-two punch in the country on the mound with Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer leading the charge.

From a resume standpoint, the Bruins have an RPI of 33 with an overall record of 33-21. Going deeper, the Bruins are 5-5 vs. RPI Top 25, 9-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 21-17 vs. RPI Top 100. UCLA also was 15-13 in non-conference, but put together a fantastic 18-8 mark in conference play.

The committee will answer questions about the Bruins' host site on Monday, but the reasoning appears to be perfectly clear. The committee did the smart thing this season, using the eyeball test with the Bruins as opposed to making the RPI the end-all be-all when it comes to selecting host sites.

There also are some complaints about Oregon State earning a host site, but the Beavers really put together a solid resume. Despite losing a series to rival Oregon this weekend, the Beavers are 8-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 13-5 vs. RPI Top 50 and 23-13 vs. RPI Top 100. There's no doubt the Beavers deserved to host a Regional.

The most notable teams missing the cut include Arkansas and in lesser fashion Southern Mississippi.

The Razorbacks won a pair of games in the SEC tournament this week and entered Sunday with a fabulous RPI of 14 and a 38-20 overall record. Going deeper, the Hogs were 8-8 vs. RPI Top 25, 17-15 vs. RPI Top 50 and 22-15 vs. RPI Top 100. But where it gets dicey is the fact the Razorbacks had just a 15-15 league record, seven games behind SEC leaders Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida.

"We had a pretty good season. Look at the competition we play each week, and consider the fact we lost several one-run games and went 4-5 against the Big Three of Vanderbilt, Florida and South Carolina in the regular season," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said on Saturday. "We put together a good resume and won the SEC West Division."

Southern Mississippi, meanwhile, appeared to be a lock for a host site a few weeks ago. However, it hasn't played well the past two weeks and also suspended two of its better players last week. The Golden Eagles dropped a series to Rice two weekends ago before going 1-2 at the Conference USA tournament this week.

Additionally, the Golden Eagles had an RPI of 20 with a 39-17 overall record, with a record of 4-3 vs. RPI Top 25, 11-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 26-14 vs. RPI Top 100. The Eagles also won the C-USA regular season co-championship.

With the NCAA applying the eyeball test in UCLA's case for a host site, it makes you wonder if more curveballs are in store for Selection Monday.

Either way, the committee will have all of us guessing.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org

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