NCAA Regional Preview: A complete guide

June 3rd, 2022

If you like wall-to-wall baseball, this weekend is for you. It’s NCAA regional time, with games starting Friday, going through at least Sunday and likely into Monday as well. Here’s a look at each of the 16 regionals, as teams try to advance to next week’s super regionals on the way to the College World Series in Omaha. Every game is slated to be carried somewhere on one of ESPN’s television networks or streaming services.

Auburn Regional
Teams: No. 1 seed Auburn (No. 14 national seed), No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana
Storyline in one sentence: The Tigers held their own in the brutal SEC, but things don’t get any easier in a regional with two teams that were in the hosting conversation for much of the season.
Top Draft prospect: Florida State LHP Parker Messick, No. 50 in the Pipeline Top 200
Player to watch: Auburn first baseman Sonny DiChiara -- a transfer from Samford -- blitzed the SEC to the tune of a .379/.556/.787 slash line and will be looking to keep his dream senior season going at least one more weekend.

Austin Regional
Teams: No. 1 Texas (No. 9 national seed), No. 2 Louisiana Tech, No. 3 Dallas Baptist, No. 4 Air Force
Storyline in one sentence: Preseason No. 1 Texas had some struggles and some significant injuries, but as the second season begins, all of their preseason goals are still in reach.
Top Draft prospect: Texas 1B Ivan Melendez, No. 115
Player to watch: It has to be Melendez, who was the nation’s most dominant offensive player. He ranked fourth in on-base percentage (.522), first in slugging percentage (.903), tied for eighth in batting average (.406) and slugged 29 homers in 59 games to tie for the national lead.

Blacksburg Regional
Teams: No. 1 Virginia Tech (No. 4 national seed), No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 3 Columbia, No. 4 Wright State
Storyline in one sentence: Enjoying its best season in memory and its first NCAA bid since 2013, Virginia Tech takes its high-octane offense up against a field led by Gonzaga’s brilliant pitching staff.
Top Draft prospect: Virginia Tech OF Gavin Cross, No. 9
Player to watch: You could pick any of Gonzaga’s three weekend starters, all of whom rank in the Pipeline Top 200. But maybe keep an extra close eye on hard-throwing right-hander William Kempner, who racked up 45 strikeouts and a 0.81 ERA in 33 1/3 innings -- and is the No. 3 starter in this stacked rotation.

Chapel Hill Regional
Teams: No. 1 North Carolina (No. 10 national seed), No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 VCU, No. 4 Hofstra
Storyline in one sentence: With a 15-2 finishing kick, the Heels played their way into the top 16, where their top challenger is a Georgia team that limped to the finish and hasn’t won a series in six weeks.
Top Draft prospect: Georgia RHP Jonathan Cannon, No. 52
Player to watch: VCU infielder Tyler Locklear capped a sensational season (.403/.540/.801) with a dominant performance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament that may have him moving up Draft boards. Locklear vs. Cannon on Friday night could be one of the regional’s more intriguing individual matchups.

College Park Regional

Teams: No. 1 Maryland (No. 15 national seed), No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 3 Connecticut, No. 4 Long Island
Storyline in one sentence: The Terps are hosting a regional for the first time ever, and while it's certainly no pushover, they have a winnable one and a chance to advance to their first super regional since 2015.
Top Draft prospect: Connecticut LHP Reggie Crawford, No. 76
Player to watch: Maryland outfielder Chris Alleyne achieved the rare 20-20 double this year, amassing 22 homers and 23 steals for the Terps.

College Station Regional

Teams: No. 1 Texas A&M (No. 5 national seed), No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Louisiana, No. 4 Oral Roberts
Storyline in one sentence: In his first year at A&M, if head coach Jim Schlossnagle wants to go to Omaha, he’ll have to get past TCU -- the team he coached for the previous 18 seasons.
Top Draft prospect: No top 200 prospects
Player to watch: Louisiana outfielder Carson Roccaforte put up huge numbers in his second college season, posting a .379/.440/.694 slash line with 16 homers and 23 steals.

Coral Gables Regional
Teams: No. 1 Miami (No. 6 national seed), No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Mississippi, No. 4 Canisius
Storyline in one sentence: Unfortunately, weather takes center stage, with storms already forcing schedule changes in a regional that includes two of college baseball’s most historic programs as the top two seeds.
Top Draft prospect: Arizona C Daniel Susac, No. 11
Player to watch: Miami closer Andrew Walters has been all but unhittable. The sophomore right-hander has 57 strikeouts against five walks and 10 hits allowed in 30 innings. He sports a 1.20 ERA with 13 saves on the year.

Corvallis Regional
Teams: No. 1 Oregon State (No. 3 overall), No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 3 San Diego, No. 4 New Mexico State
Storyline in one sentence: Two of the 21st century’s top programs headline a deep regional.
Top Draft prospect: Oregon State LHP Cooper Hjerpe, No. 32
Player to watch: Vandy center fielder Enrique Bradfield is one of the country’s most electric players, with 43 steals to go along with his .315/.413/.500 slash line.

Gainesville Regional
Teams: No. 1 Florida (No. 13 national seed), No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Liberty, No. 4 Central Michigan
Storyline in one sentence: A surging Sooners team felt it should have hosted, but instead they visit another consistent power in the Gators.
Top Draft prospect: Florida OF Sterlin Thompson, No. 27
Player to watch: Florida outfielder Jud Fabian was a second-round pick last year, but he came back to school and showed the same strengths and weaknesses he did a year ago. He has huge power and legitimate speed, but is still inconsistent. If he gets hot, he can carry the Gators on his back.

Greenville Regional
Teams: No. 1 East Carolina (No. 8 national seed), No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Coastal Carolina, No. 4 Coppin State
Storyline in one sentence: ECU rebounded from some early struggles, but with two recent national champions in its bracket, the committee hardly did them any favors, even as a Top 8 national seed
Top Draft prospect: Coastal Carolina SS Eric Brown, No. 60 (note: ECU pitcher Carson Whisenhunt is ranked No. 36 but is not active)
Player to watch: Virginia infielder Jake Gelof enjoyed a massive breakout as a sophomore, posting a .373/.474/.751 line with 74 RBIs in 55 games.

Hattiesburg Regional
Teams: No. 1 Southern Miss (No. 11 national seed), No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Kennesaw State, No. 4 Army
Storyline in one sentence: Hattiesburg will be absolutely raucous when USM’s dedicated fans host the team that may travel better than any other in the sport, nearby LSU.
Top Draft prospect: LSU 3B Jacob Berry, No. 7
Players to watch: USM right-hander Tanner Hall ranks seventh in the nation with 130 strikeouts against just 11 walks, to go along with a spiffy 2.69 ERA -- and he doesn’t even lead the Golden Eagles’ rotation in K/9, as Hurston Waldrep has fanned 117 in 78 1/3 frames.

Knoxville Regional
Teams: No. 1 Tennessee (No. 1 national seed), No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 3 Campbell, No. 4 Alabama State
Storyline in one sentence: The Vols have run roughshod over everyone -- including the SEC Tournament -- and are looking to keep rolling all the way to Omaha.
Top Draft prospect: Georgia Tech C Kevin Parada, No. 6
Player to watch: Ben Joyce. You’re looking for Ben Joyce, the Vols’ right-handed reliever who has hit 105 mph on the radar gun.

Louisville Regional
Teams: No. 1 Louisville (No. 12 national seed), No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Southeast Missouri State
Storyline in one sentence: This may be the most wide-open regional, with cases to be made for all of the top three teams.
Top Draft prospect: Louisville C Dalton Rushing, No. 59
Player to watch: Louisville speedster Levi Usher has 70 steals in 122 career college games.

Stanford Regional
Teams: No. 1 Stanford (No. 2 national seed), No. 2 Texas State, No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, No. 4 Binghamton
Storyline in one sentence: It’s baseball, and Texas State is dangerous, but the committee didn’t exactly put too many huge obstacles in front of the west’s best team.
Top Draft prospect: Stanford OF Brock Jones, No. 31
Player to watch: UCSB shortstop Jordan Sprinkle isn’t a huge bat, though he can certainly contribute offensively. But he’s a deft defender at shortstop, with Pipeline grades of 60 for his fielding, 55 for his arm and 60 for his speed.

Statesboro Regional
Teams: No. 1 Georgia Southern (No. 16 national seed), No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 4 UNC Greensboro
Storyline in one sentence: In soccer, they would call this the “group of death,” with two teams that had very strong hosting cases traveling to southeastern Georgia.
Top Draft prospect: Texas Tech 2B Jace Jung, No. 8
Player to watch: Notre Dame’s Jack Brannigan is an effective hitter with a .289/.356/.533 slash line while playing mostly third base, but teams love him as a potential pitcher in the big leagues. He rarely pitches, but when he does, he can touch 100 mph.

Stillwater Regional
Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma State (No. 7 national seed), No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Grand Canyon, No. 4 Missouri State
Storyline in one sentence: A proud and dangerous Hogs squad presents a formidable challenge to Oklahoma State’s bid for its first CWS bid in six years.
Top Draft prospect: Oklahoma State RHP Justin Campbell, No. 34
Player to watch: OSU outfielder Jake Thompson put up a slash line this year that wouldn’t have looked out of place during hitting coach Matt Holliday’s tenure in Denver, at .349/.453/.625. Thompson walked more times (41) than he struck out (40).