Seminoles in familiar role as the No. 1 seed

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Florida State is in a familiar position as the top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament. This time, the Seminoles hope to end the season with a win at the College World Series.

Florida State was selected Monday as the first of eight national seeds in the 64-team Division I college baseball tournament for the second straight season.

"That's our goal every year and I'm very proud of each of our young men," Seminoles coach Mike Martin said. "They know that no matter what the seed, we will have to play solid baseball in the regional to reach our goal."

The Seminoles (50-10-1), making their 41st tournament appearance and 26th in a row, will host one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

Charlie Carr, the chairman of the Division I baseball committee and Florida State's senior associate athletic director, said he didn't have any input in his school's seeding. But he said the Seminoles more than proved their worthiness on the field.

"I will say that it's pretty evident why they got it," Carr said. "They're a team with 50 wins and with their strength of schedule, they deserve to be a No. 1 seed."

The winners of each regional will advance to the super regionals, played June 6-9. The eight winners of the super regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 13 in Omaha, Neb.

Other national seeds

The other national seeds are: Louisiana State (40-19-1), Georgia Tech (44-16), Auburn (40-19), Rice (48-10), Stanford (41-15), Cal State Fullerton (43-13) and Miami (39-14-1). By being national seeds, the teams are assured of not playing each other until they reach the College World Series.

"This year, in my personal judgment, this was probably the most difficult year we've ever had because we didn't have one, two or three just knock-your-lights-out top teams," Carr said. "We had a number of really, really good teams."

Florida State was also the tournament's top seed last season, but lost to Notre Dame in the super regionals. The Seminoles have been College World Series runners-up three times, but have never won the national championship.

Florida State will take on Jacksonville (32-28) in its first game, and Rutgers and South Alabama will also play in the regional at Tallahassee, Fla.

"It doesn't matter what our seed or ranking is going into the tournament," Seminoles junior catcher Tony Richie said. "That doesn't get you to the College World Series. Everyone that got in is equal with everyone else right now."

Defending champion Texas (43-17), looking to become just the fifth repeat winner in College World Series history, was not one of the eight national seeds -- but was the top seed in its regional.

The Longhorns will play Bucknell in the first round, and Lamar and Arkansas are the other teams in the regional at Austin, Texas. If Texas and Florida State win their regionals, they would meet in the super regionals.

"It just turned out that we had 16 evenly ranked schools and Texas was close to being one of those eight No. 1 seeds," Carr said.

The Southeastern Conference has a tournament-high eight representatives with Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

The Atlantic Coast Conference -- with Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State -- and Big 12 -- with Baylor, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M -- were next with five teams each.

Miami is making its 31st straight appearance to extend its NCAA record.

Illinois-Chicago (39-16) won the Horizon League to earn its first NCAA tournament appearance. Also in the regionals for the first time are UC Riverside (40-15) and UNC-Wilmington (38-21), who both earned at-large berths.

Murray State (25-29) won the Ohio Valley tournament to make its first regional appearance since 1979 despite a losing record. Eastern Michigan (32-26) is making its first appearance since 1982, and Le Moyne (33-15) is in for the second time, the first since 1989.

Missouri, SMS get in

It's been a long time away, but the Missouri Tigers are back in the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers (35-20) received a No. 3 seed and will play No. 2 North Carolina (39-21) Friday at 2 p.m. in a regional hosted by Mississippi State at Starkville, Miss.

"This team has put in so much time and effort, and it's a just thing for them to be in this tournament," coach Tim Jamieson said. "It's nice for them to get rewarded for the commitment they've put in."

Missouri's last tournament bid was in 1996, when it was knocked out in the first round by Wichita State.

Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champion Southwest Missouri State also received a bid despite not winning the MVC Tournament.

For the second straight year, the Bears will be headed to Lincoln, Neb. The Bears (35-23) will play Coastal Carolina (45-16), the champions of the Big South Conference at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

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