Florida second baseman Cade Kurland goes into the hole to his left to field a ball and throw to first to record an out against Vanderbilt at the Hoover Met on the opening day of the SEC Tournament. [Gary Cosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News-USA Today Network]

Florida’s Participation In NCAA Baseball Regional Uncertain

Now that their stay in the SEC Baseball Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium was one and done, for the Gators, like Gainesville icon Tom Petty sang, the waiting will be the hardest part.

The 64-team NCAA Tournament bracket won’t be released until noon Monday on ESPN2.

Florida (28-27) has turned in its résumé  after Tuesday’s 6-3 first-round loss to Vanderbilt. UF has the No. 1 strength of schedule, No. 27 RPI (D1Baseball) and a 9-9 record against SEC teams projected to be among the top-16 national seeds.

The Gators could have improved their lot for the NCAA selection committee, but it was not to be in Hoover, Ala. Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan thinks the Gators have done just enough.

“I thought our biggest hurdle was to get above .500,” O’Sullivan said Tuesday night. “That was the first obstacle we needed to get over. Then obviously there’s five of us that have 13 wins in the league. Anybody can look at the metrics, strength of schedule, how many quad 1 wins. But I look at things a little bit differently.

“There’s potentially six hosts in our league, which we’ve never had before. We’ve went 9-9 against them. Went into Baton Rouge and won two out of three. Our schedule was really difficult down the stretch the last five series. We did what we needed to do to win two out of three at Georgia, which obviously is not an easy thing to do. Our schedule is difficult… But it’s up to the committee, and there’s nothing that I can say or do, and I’m not going to sit here and politic for our team. But at the same time, that one simple thing, going 9-9 in 18 league games against teams that are potentially going to host or be national seeds, I think that says something.”

College baseball expert Joe Heely said on Steve Russell’s Sports Scene earlier this week that participation in these conference tournaments usually have a positive impact on some teams.

NCAA Tournament Odds

Florida will find out its official regional and seed Monday during the College Baseball Tournament Selection Show. There will be 64 teams selected to compete in 16 regionals.

There are six SEC teams that will make a regional. Then there are five teams (Florida, LSU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Alabama) in the SEC tied at 13 conference wins and not guaranteed a spot in a regional.

The Gators’ tough schedule, which included series against No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 5 Arkansas in the final month, translated to the lowest amount of wins among the group.

Possibility Of Tallahassee Regional

The loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament will likely lead to a three seed in a regional for UF. D1 Baseball mocks the Gators to the Tallahassee Regional, a field that would include host Florida State, Southern Mississippi and Florida A&M. Florida State is projected as the No. 9 national seed.

The Gators would face Southern Mississippi, the reigning Sun Belt Conference champions and likely qualify for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Florida State was a tough opponent for Florida this season. The Gators were swept by scores like 19-4 (7 innings), a season high for runs allowed, in the third game in Tallahassee. There’s a lot to consider if the Gators make their way to Tallahassee, according to Healy.

The Gators’ fate is now in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.

 

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