No longer will the NCAA baseball tournament have just eight national seeds. The top 16 teams will be ranked by the selection committee starting next year.
The Division I Competition Oversight Committee unveiled Friday that it has approved the format change — with the intent of matching tournament bracketing principles that exist in other NCAA sports.
According to the NCAA news release, baseball was the only sport with a 64-team tournament that didn’t seed at least 25 percent of the teams.
What’s this mean?
It should create more competitive balance within the tournament.
There are 16 regional hosts each year — but with only the top eight teams seeded previously, the next best eight squads were often grouped with their closest geographic peer.
Louisville and Kentucky had to face off for the right to go to the College World Series last season. TCU and Texas A&M had met in two straight super regionals before getting split up last year. Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton (which won the Stanford regional) played in a super regional last season. Clemson and South Carolina were on a collision course in 2016 — but the Tigers got upset in the regional round. Florida and Florida State played each other in a 2016 super regional.
Now, things have changed.
The super regional pairings will be based on seeding. The No. 1 overall seed gets a regional that’s grouped with the No. 16 seed’s regional. No. 2 is with No. 15. No. 3 is with No. 14. And so on.
It’s something that’s been in the works for some time, though it seemed to gain more traction this past season. It’ll likely be well received by many across the sport.