Virginia’s baseball team isn’t happy that it’s not one of the 16 schools hosting an NCAA tournament regional.
Neither are some of the national baseball writers.
Even ESPN piled on the Cavaliers’ snub during its announcement of the tournament field Monday. College baseball analyst Kyle Peterson said, “It’s very clear that it should have been Virginia.”
The NCAA tournament committee, though, felt differently as it awarded Clemson.
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The Tigers, despite dropping 11 of their last 12 ACC contests, earned a regional hosting site Sunday, and they found out their field Monday while staying silent during ESPN’s broadcast.
“I don’t make anything of it. Everybody has their own opinions,” Clemson coach Monte Lee said about the criticism that his team was picked over Virginia. “That’s OK. It doesn’t bother me at all. We’re hosting a regional and we’re excited about it.”
Top-seeded Clemson (39-19) will host second-seeded Vanderbilt (33-22-1), third-seeded St. John’s (42-11) and fourth-seeded UNC Greensboro (35-22) at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this weekend.
And it really did come down to the Tigers and Cavs, according to NCAA Division I Baseball Committee chairman Scott Sidwell.
He said the decision was “razor thin” and sparked a “significant amount of discussion” within the committee.
“Ultimately, as we looked at all of it, there were arguments on both sides,” Sidwell said. “One thing that stood out to us was the non-conference schedule.”
The two teams split the regular-season showdowns 2-2, and Virginia won their meeting in the ACC tournament 10-2 this past Friday. But the Tigers played “significantly” better opponents outside the ACC than Virginia.
“Our overall body of work speaks for itself.” Lee said. “I respect the committee looking at the whole body of work and that’s the way it should be. You play 56 games for a reason. Our numbers indicate that we’re worthy to host.”
Clemson outfielder Seth Beer said he was aware of backlash and complaints from the Virginia players on social media Sunday night, but he’s just happy Clemson can hit the reset button and begin the postseason.
“We’re all energized and ready to go,” Beer said. “We want to prove people wrong and show that they made the right choices.”
The Tigers open the NCAA tournament at home Friday at 7 p.m. against UNC Greensboro a team Lee faced regularly when he was at College of Charleston. St. John’s and Vandy, two teams Lee is familiar with, square off at noon.
National writer Aaron Fitt, of D1baseball, called Clemson getting a host site an “awful snub” to Virginia, and he also believes the Tigers received a challenging draw.
Regardless, Clemson will take it. After not hosting for four consecutive seasons, Lee called bringing a regional to Clemson for the second time in as many seasons with the program “great for our fan base and great for our players.”
Clemson NCAA regional
▪ No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 UNC Greensboro, 7 p.m. Friday;
▪ No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 St. John’s, noon Friday
Where: Doug Kingsmore Stadium, Clemson