As we get prepared for the chaotic excellence that is the NCAA Baseball Tournament, I am here to provide some insight as to which 4 seeds might make life stressful for other teams in their regionals. I'll give you a little synopsis on each team, as well as a 1-10 rating of how dangerous I think they are, 1 being the least dangerous and 10 being lethal. Without further delay, let's get into it!
16: Florida A&M- The Rattlers won the SWAC Conference Tournament as the #3 seed. Unfortunately for the Rattlers, they have not had success of any kind against tournament-caliber teams all season. They don't miss bats as a pitching staff either, which obviously poses a problem with three very good offensive teams in their regional. The Rattlers did well to get this far, but I don't anticipate them winning a game. Danger rating: 1.
15: Eastern Illinois- The Panthers shocked the OVC by winning the Conference Tournament as a #5 seed. While not a team that hits for power very often (only 1 hitter with double-digit home-runs), they do knock the ball around the yard a fair amount. Even though this Panther squad upset Arkansas the second week of the season, Vanderbilt is a bad matchup for this team. The Panthers might make the loser's bracket interesting, but that is about it. Danger rating: 2.
14: Rider- The Broncs out of the MAAC have been a pesky bunch all year. As a team, they are only hitting .268 with 43 HRs. And yet, they have wins this year over other tournament teams Duke, Penn, and Oklahoma. Pitching carries the day for this team, but Coastal Carolina's home stadium is a launching pad. In a different regional, Rider might be more of a threat. Unfortunately, unless this team finds their power stroke, they will be headed towards a 2 and BBQ. Danger rating: 2.
13: George Mason- How about those Patriots? After a *rough* A-10 season, they swept through the tournament as the #6 seed to secure the automatic bid. Their reward? A trip to #1 overall seed Wake Forest. Hah. Northeastern and Maryland aren't pushovers, either. While they don't hit for power, they get on base at a fairly decent clip. A win for the Patriots in this regional would be a minor miracle, but it took a minor miracle for George Mason to make it here in the first place. Danger rating: 2.5.
12: Maine- The Black Bears were sent down to the Coral Gables regional, and I am not sure the Hurricanes were happy about that. This Maine lineup can flat out swing it. You simply don't see a small conference team out of the Northeast have a guy with 20 bombs and three more teammates with double-digit HRs very often. Their pitching staff is their weakness, but their offensive capabilities might scare a couple teams in this regional. Who knows, maybe the Black Bears wreak some havoc in Coral Gables. Danger rating: 3.
11: Central Connecticut State- The Blue Devils were the class of the NEC all season long, led offensively by Ramon Jimenez. Unfortunately, Jimenez was (unjustly, in my opinion) ejected for celebrating an absolute bomb during the NEC Championship Game. Thus, he will be serving a 1-game suspension when they play South Carolina. Without their best position player, beating the Gamecocks will be a tall task. The Blue Devils do have a couple quality starters on the mound who can make the Columbia regional interesting, however. This team is very capable of stealing a win if overlooked. Danger rating: 3.5.
10: San Jose State- The Spartans secured both the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles, but this is a team that really does not have a real strength. In fact, being average across the board might be this team's biggest pro and con at the same time. They play fundamentally sound baseball most of the time and have the capability to catch a team napping. Stanford, Texas A&M, and Cal State Fullerton have proven to be beatable this season. Might be one to keep an eye on. Danger rating: 4.
9: Nicholls- The Colonels won both the Southland regular season and conference tournaments. This team comes at you with a balanced hitting attack that puts pressure on opposing defenses. What separates this team from those behind it is the emergence of freshman ace Jacob Mayers. Mayers has a sub-2.00 ERA over 14 starts with 97 Ks in 70 innings. Anytime the Colonels have him on the mound, they have a chance to win the game. Alabama better be locked in. Danger rating: 5.
8: Tulane- The Green Wave underperformed the entire season. Then the conference tournament started, #7 Tulane woke up, ran through the American Conference Tournament and clinched the automatic bid with a win over #1 seed ECU. With a boom-or-bust offense, the Green Wave have the capability to put up runs in bunches. Teo Banks has been the definition of clutch for them over the past month. Whenever a team comes in with nothing to lose, they have to be handled with care. Danger rating: 5.
7: Ball State- The Cardinals finished 2nd in the MAC before winning the conference tournament to secure the automatic bid. Ball State is a very balanced team across the board. They have several quality starters in their rotation, coupled with a core of dynamic hitters. Their opponents aren't dominant on any specific side of the ball, so the Cardinals will likely be in position to steal a game from an opponent late. Trennor O'Donn has the ability to carry the Cardinals to the win on his arm alone. Danger rating: 5.5.
6: Lipscomb- The Bison were the class of the A-SUN all year. They knocked off FGCU in the championship game to secure the automatic bid. Now, they have their sights set on some big game hunting. In a regional with both Clemson and Tennessee, as well as a hot Charlotte squad, many are overlooking Lipscomb. The Bison don't hit for a great average as a team, but they bring the thunder with 106 HRs as a team. They also have a pair of starters capable of keeping their offense in the game. It might not be right away, but Lipscomb has the ability to find a win in Clemson's regional. Danger rating: 6.
5: Army- The Black Knights demolished the Patriot League at a 21-4 clip before demolishing Bucknell with back-to-back 20 run offensive explosions in the Championship Series. With 3 starting pitchers owning under a 3.00 ERA and a team batting average over .300, Army can beat you in multiple different ways. The Black Knights will put up a fight against any team they play. Virginia, ECU, and Oklahoma could not have been happy to see Army join them in Charlottesville. Danger rating: 7.
4: Santa Clara- The Broncos tore through the WCC Tournament to lock down the automatic bid after a 17-10 regular season conference record. Although they haven't played much against the upper echelon of college teams, a season split against Stanford showcases how capable this team is offensively. They have a team average at .300, get on base at a .403 clip, and steal bases with 71 on the season. Once they get the lead, they have a bullpen capable of shutting opposing offenses down completely. Arkansas, TCU, and Arizona better be locked in from the jump. Danger rating: 7.
3: Wright State- The Raiders are back and looking to make some noise. This team, once again, was the class of the Horizon League. An offense capable of putting up a crooked number in a hurry is always dangerous in the tournament, and the Raiders are well-known for scoring in bunches. While a good pitching performance is capable of shutting this team down, Wright State has some quality pitching of their own, headlined by starter Sebastian Gongora and his 2.92 ERA. Indiana State better be focused on their first game because the Raiders can absolutely take Game 1. Danger rating: 8.
2: Penn- I have been taking flak all year for my take that the Penn Quakers are a very good baseball team. They have lost only two series all season, with one of them being at South Carolina. Their offense really has only one power threat in Wyatt Henseler (17 HRs), but they hit at a .291 clip. The Quakers' strength is their pitching core. All three starters have ERAs of 2.87, 3.03, and 3.09 respectively. All have more strikeouts than innings pitched as well. Auburn is not facing your traditional Ivy League team. This Penn team is not a team to be taken lightly. Danger rating: 9.
1: Oral Roberts- If I am Oklahoma State, I am pissed. Your reward for hosting is facing in your first game a 46-11 Golden Eagles team that is 3rd in the nation in both ERA and fielding percentage. Have fun! All three ORU starters have ERAs at 3.35 or below, and the Golden Eagles' closer owns a 1.60 ERA, .91 WHIP, and K/9 over 12. The offense, led by former Commodore and Gamecock Matt Hogan, hits at an unbelievable .321. Jonah Cox is one of only four hitters in the entire country with 100 hits this season. To say Oral Roberts has a chance to steal a game is an understatement; The Golden Eagles can win this regional. Danger rating: 10.