Cal State Long Beach, Pepperdine, Cal State Northridge, UCLA, USC and Cal State Fullerton are among the 48 teams that will play in the NCAA baseball tournAment, which Begins Thursdayand Friday at eight regional sites.
The NCAA announced the pairings Monday for six-team double-elimination regionals. Winners advance to the College World Series June 4-12 in Omaha.
Twenty-four teams earned automatic berths by winning their conference titles or tournaments. The 24 at-large berths were awarded based on record, recommendations of advisory committees and a Rankings Percentage Index. The RPI includes winning percentage in Division I games, the success of opponents and opponents' strength of schedule.
Six Southeastern Conference teams were selected, five from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Long Beach, champion of the Big West Conference, is top-seeded in the East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. The 49ers (39-17) play sixth-seeded Central Florida (30-29) Thursday. Second-seeded Florida State (44-17) plays South Florida (40-18). Third-seeded Mississippi State (41-19) plays Notre Dame (43-14).
Pepperdine, the defending national champion and winner of the West Coast Conference title, is seeded third behind Arizona State and Northridge in the West Regional at Tempe, Ariz.
Pepperdine (40-15) plays Minnesota (43-16) in its opener Thursday. Northridge (34-18), which finished second in its division in the Western Athletic Conference, plays St. John's (25-18). Arizona State (42-18), the Pacific 10 Conference Southern Division CHampioN, playS George Mason (33-13).
Pepperdine once again was victimized by a power rating that penalizes the Waves for their membership in the WCC. Last year, Pepperdine won the conference title but was seeded fourth in the West Regional. The Waves advanced to Omaha, where they were seeded seventh among eight teams, then beat Fullerton for the national championship.
UCLA, which finished second in the Pac-10, is seeded third in the Central I Regional at College Station, Tex. The Bruins (35-21) play fourth-seeded Lamar (44-16) Thursday. Top-seeded Texas A&M; (48-9) plays Yale (33-9), and North Carolina (40-18) plays Hawaii (33-23).
USC returns to the playoffs after a year's absence in the Central II Regional at Austin, Tex. The fourth-seeded Trojans (32-27) play Kentucky (38-21-1) Friday. Top-seeded Texas (46-14) plays McNeese State (37-21), and second-seeded Fullerton (33-17) plays Maine (33-25).
USC, which finished 15-15 in the Pac-10, was somewhat of a longshot for an at-large berth entering games against Wake Forest, North Carolina State and North Carolina last weekend. The Trojans outscored their opponents, 37-3, in three victories.
Georgia Tech (45-12) is the top-seeded team in the Atlantic Regional at Atlanta. North Carolina is seeded first in the Midwest Regional at Stillwater, Okla. Tennessee (44-18), making its first postseason appearance since 1951, is the top-seeded team in the Mideast Regional at Knoxville. Louisiana State (45-15-1) is seeded first in the South Regional at Baton Rouge, La.