STORRS, Conn. – The Connecticut Huskies are headed to Gainesville, Fla., to open play in the 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.
Here are the basics you need to know about the tournament bracket and field of 64 teams.
The Huskies, an automatic qualifier after winning the American Athletic Conference championship on Sunday, received the No. 3 seed in the Gainesville Regional and will play No. 2 Georgia Tech on Friday (1 p.m., ESPN3).
Florida (47-13), the No. 1 team in the nation and the top overall seed in the tournament, will host the regional and play No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman (29-25) at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s exciting to be in Gainesville,” UConn head coach Tom Penders said. “It’s one of the capitals of college baseball. I think it’s a really strong regional and we’re looking forward to getting started with the Yellow Jackets.”
There are 16 NCAA regionals set up as four-team, double-elimination tournaments. The winners advance to play in Super Regionals and those best-of-three series determine the College World Series teams. The winner of the Gainesville Regional moves on to play the winner of the Tallahassee, Fla., Regional. That regional includes host Florida State, Southern Miss, South Alabama and Alabama State.
Georgia Tech (36-23) is one of 10 Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the field, which was announced Monday afternoon on ESPNU. The Southeastern Conference has seven teams and Conference USA and Pac-12 each got four bids.
Tulane and East Carolina join UConn reaching the field from the AAC. Tulane is the No. 2 seed in the Oxford Region and opens against Boston College. ECU will play in Charlottesville as the No. 3 seed, opening against Bryant. Houston, which lost to UConn in the AAC championship game, did not make the at-large field.
UConn (37-23) is making its 19th NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2013. This is the fourth trip in seven years for the Huskies. UConn earned at-large bids in 2010 and 2011 and picked up the automatic qualifier in 2013 after winning the final Big East championship.
The Huskies held a Selection Show “Watch Party” with members of the media at the Burton Family Football Complex Monday. The players and coaches didn’t have to wait long to celebrate. The Gainesville Regional was the first one revealed and in less than 10 minutes the Huskies could cheer and holler.
Of course, there was the reality of facing the Florida Gators in their own stadium, but no one – including Penders – seemed to shy away from that thought.
“I think it’s great,” Penders said. “We went down there [in 2014] and lost three walkoffs. There are some guys on this team that remember that very well. [Ace pitcher] Anthony Kay was one of them. He gave up a home run late in the game there as a freshman. So I think there’s a little extra motivation there. But we’re not looking past our first game. We’ve got a heckuva opponent in Georgia Tech.”
Log on to Today’sU.com later for my story on hot-hitting shortstop Bryan Daniello, who played a key role in UConn’s championship role in Clearwater, Fla.
Below find the complete rundown of NCAA regional pairings. Click here to see the tournament bracket.
2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship (all times Eastern)
Baton Rouge Regional hosted by LSU
#1 *LSU (42-18) vs. #4 Utah Valley (37-21), 3 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Rice (35-22) vs. #3 Southeastern La. (39-19), 8 p.m., ESPN3
Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia
#1 *Virginia (37-20) vs. #4 William & Mary (29-29), 1 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Bryant (47-10) vs. #3 East Carolina (34-21), 6 p.m., ESPN3
Clemson Regional hosted by Clemson
#1 *Clemson (42-18) vs. #4 Western Caro. (30-29), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Oklahoma St. (36-20) vs. #3 Nebraska (37-20), Noon, ESPNU
College Station Regional hosted by Texas A&M
#1 *Texas A&M (45-14) vs. #4 Binghamton (30-23), 9 p.m., SECN/ESPN3
#2 Minnesota (34-20) vs. #3 Wake Forest (34-25), 4 p.m., ESPN3
Columbia Regional hosted by South Carolina
#1 *South Carolina (42-15) vs. #4 Rhode Island (30-25), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 UNCW (39-17) vs. #3 Duke (33-22), 1 p.m., ESPN3
Coral Gables Regional hosted by Miami (FL)
#1 *Miami (FL) (45-11) vs. #4 Stetson (29-29), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Fla. Atlantic (38-17) vs. #3 Long Beach St. (36-20), 1 p.m., ESPN3
Fort Worth Regional hosted by TCU
#1 *TCU (42-15) vs. #4 Oral Roberts (38-19), 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Arizona St. (34-21) vs. Gonzaga (35-19), 3 p.m., ESPN3
Gainesville Regional hosted by Florida
#1 *Florida (47-13) vs. #4 Bethune-Cookman (29-25), 6 p.m., SECN/ESPN3
#2 Georgia Tech (36-23) vs. #3 UConn (37-23), 1 p.m., ESPN3
Lafayette Regional hosted by UL Lafayette
#1 *UL Lafayette (41-19) vs. #4 Princeton (24-19), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Arizona (38-20) vs. #3 Sam Houston St. (41-20), 2 p.m., ESPN3
Louisville Regional hosted by Louisville
#1 *Louisville (47-12) vs. #4 Western Mich. (22-32), 6 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Ohio St. (43-18) vs. #3 Wright St. (44-15), 2 p.m., ESPN3
Lubbock Regional hosted by Texas Tech
#1 *Texas Tech (41-16) vs. #4 Fairfield (32-24), 3 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Dallas Baptist (41-17) vs. #3 New Mexico (38-21), 7 p.m., ESPN3
Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt
#1 *Vanderbilt (43-17) vs. #4 Xavier (30-28), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 UC Santa Barbara (37-18) vs. #3 Washington (32-21), 3 p.m., ESPN3
Oxford Regional hosted by Ole Miss
#1 *Ole Miss (43-17) vs. #4 Utah (25-27), 8 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Tulane (39-19) vs. #3 Boston College (31-20), 4 p.m., ESPN3
Raleigh Regional hosted by North Carolina St.
#1 *North Carolina St. (35-20) vs. #4 Navy (42-14), 7 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Coastal Caro. (44-15) vs. #3 St. Mary’s (CA) (33-23), 2 p.m., ESPN3
Starkville Regional hosted by Mississippi St.
#1 *Mississippi St. (41-16-1) vs. #4 Southeast Mo. St. (39-19), 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Cal St. Fullerton (35-21) vs. #3 Louisiana Tech (40-18), 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida St.
#1 *Florida St. (37-20) vs. #4 Alabama St. (38-15), 6 p.m., ESPN3
#2 Southern Miss. (40-18) vs. #3 South Ala. (40-20), Noon, ESPN3