Chris Murray: Hogs Look Like NCAA Regional 2 Seed; UCA Pressing for Automatic Bid


Despite the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 7-2 loss to LSU in the winners’ bracket of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Hoover, Ala., the Hogs have done more than enough to earn a spot in the NCAA Regionals, likely as a no. 2 seed.

In fact, it is probably just as well as they lost to LSU, which followed by a loss to Ole Miss today, would send the Hogs home to await regional announcements on Monday. That would allow the Arkansas pitching staff to rest up, in anticipation of a taxing regional.

When the Hogs dispatched Texas A&M and then Ole Miss this week (after finishing off a sweep of Missouri on Saturday with a stirring comeback) thanks mostly to brilliant pitching from Trey Killian and Chris Oliver, one had to wonder about their chances of running the table in Hoover. They could still rebound and beat Ole Miss today, and conceivably fight through the weekend and win the league title. Even then, it’s doubtful that Arkansas could rise above a no. 2 NCAA Regional seed, and the ship has sailed on serving as host.

So, where will the Razorbacks be sent? In general, the NCAA likes to keep teams close to home. In that regard, the Hogs are in luck. Numerous teams from Texas – the Longhorns, Rice, Houston, TCU and Texas Tech – are among likely hosts. UL-Lafayette, which has risen as high as no. 3 nationally, is certain to host and would be an interesting matchup for the Hogs. Virginia, Oregon State, Florida State and Indiana are all locks to host, as are four or five SEC schools (Arkansas could not play at those sites).

I’d lay good odds that the Hogs will be heading to Texas to square off with an old Southwest Conference rival. In 2011, Arkansas won the regional hosted by Rice, then took down Baylor in the super regional at Waco. Don’t be surprised if the Hogs are sent back to Houston, though maybe this time it will be to a regional hosted by the Cougars. Houston needs a strong finish at the American Athletic Conference tournament to lock up a host bid. Otherwise, the Hogs could be bound for Fort Worth. Or Austin.

NCAA Regionals who goes whereThe Razorbacks pitching staff should be bolstered in the regionals by the return of Jalen Beeks. He missed recent starts and was unavailable in Hoover due to a tired arm. If he is back even close to 100 percent, that gives Arkansas a huge lift. The NCAA Regionals selection show will air at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPNU.

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Another team looking to hear its name called on the selection show is the UCA Bears. The Bears, who are hosting the Southland Conference tournament, won Thursday for the second straight night. UCA entered the event as the no. 6 seed, and promptly defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-1, as Bryce Biggerstaff went the distance for the complete-game victory.

Connor Gillmore followed that up Thursday with another complete game. The Bears scored nine runs in the first four innings and cruised to an 11-3 win. Theuca bears baseball Bears will meet the Texas A&M Corpus Christi-McNeese State winner at 7 tonight. Those two teams are set to play at noon. A win tonight would send the Bears to the championship round on Saturday.

The Bears are halfway to repeating the magical run they made through the Southland tourney last season, resulting in an NCAA Regional bid. They advanced to the Starkville, Miss., regional and pushed host Mississippi State to the limit.

UCA has now won eight straight games, possibly peaking at the right time. No. 1 seed and regular season champ Sam Houston State is facing an elimination game today, and no. 2 seed Nicholls State has already been sent home.

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No. 3 seed Arkansas State stayed alive Thursday in the Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 4-3 win over host South Alabama in Mobile. The Red Wolves dropped a 4-3 decision in 13 innings on Wednesday to Troy, and get another shot at the Trojans at 6:30 tonight.

If A-State wins that game, it will need to defeat no. 2 seed UT-Arlington twice on Saturday to reach the championship game. The Red Wolves were fortunate to land on the opposite side of the bracket from no. 1 seed UL-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-0 in the tourney, and need just one more win to reach the championship.

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