The NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament is held each year from May through June and features 64 college baseball teams in the United States, culminating in the eight-team College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Florida is the current champion, defeating runner-up LSU 6-1 in Game 2 to sweep the 2017 College World Series championship finals.
The tournament is unique in that it features four tiers of competition, alternating between double-elimination brackets and best-of-three series. In fact, throughout the entire 64-team tournament, a team can lose a total of four games and still be crowned champions.
During team selection, eight teams are given "national seeds". These teams automatically host a super regional if they advance past the regional round, assuming they have the facilities to do so. Only 2 times has a national seed not hosted due to lack of proper facilities. As in other NCAA tournaments, conference champions (usually determined by a tournament) receive automatic bids, and the selection committee fills the remaining spots.
The first tier, called Regionals, consists of 16 locations that include four teams, seeded 1 through 4, competing in a double-elimination bracket. The 16 host sites are determined mostly by merit - most No. 1 seeds host - but are also contested by bids from schools guaranteeing the NCAA a certain amount of revenue from that regional. Host teams traditionally have a large advantage, although the home team for each game is determined by rule, so the host school sometimes plays as the visiting team. The winner of each regional moves on to the second tier, the Super Regionals.
Super Regionals are played at eight locations throughout the country and consist of the 16 surviving teams, matched up by predetermined regional pairings. National seeds cannot meet each other in the super regional and are guaranteed to host. If the national seed in the bracket is eliminated in the regional stage, the super regional will be played at the higher seeded team's field. If the two seeds are the same, the Super Regional will be bid upon by the two competing teams. If the national seed wins the regional but is unable to host, the Super Regional is awarded to the other regional winner in its bracket. This scenario played out in 2015 when national seed Missouri State could not host a Super Regional because the minor league Springfield Cardinals, which have scheduling priority at the stadium where both teams play, were playing a home series at that time. The Super Regional was thus awarded to Arkansas. The two teams play a best-of-three series to determine who moves on to the College World Series. Although one school hosts all three games, the teams split home-team status in the first two games, with the host school batting last in the opening game and first in game 2. If a third game is needed, a coin toss determines home-team status. Ole Miss is the only school to host three Super Regionals without advancing to the College World Series under the current format. Florida State has lost five Super Regionals as host, but has also advanced to the College World Series five times under the current format.
The final eight teams meet in Omaha, Nebraska in the College World Series. The CWS mimics the earlier rounds, consisting of two double-elimination brackets of four teams each. Thereafter, the winners of each bracket meet in a best-of-three final. The winner of this final series wins the College World Series and is crowned the national champion.
|Southern California||12||1948, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1998|
|LSU||6||1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009|
|Texas||6||1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005|
|Arizona State||5||1965, 1967, 1969, 1977, 1981|
|Arizona||4||1976, 1980, 1986, 2012|
|Cal State Fullerton||4||1979, 1984, 1995, 2004|
|Miami (FL)||4||1982, 1985, 1999, 2001|
|Minnesota||3||1956, 1960, 1964|
|Oregon State||2||2006, 2007|
|South Carolina||2||2010, 2011|
The first tournament was an 8 team single elimination tournament. Four teams each were put into two playoff brackets, named the "Eastern Playoff" and the "Western Playoff." The winner of each bracket moved on to the College World Series, which was, at that time, a 2 team best-of-three game series.
The second year of the tournament maintained the "Eastern Playoff" and "Western Playoff" format, however, they were now double elimination. The winner of each bracket moved on to the College World Series to play a best-of-three game series.
The third year of the tournament consisted of four regions named Region A, Region B, Region C, and Region D. Each region consisted of two teams playing in a best-of-three game series. The winner of each region moved on to the College World Series, which was now a four-team double-elimination tournament.
From 1950 through 1953, the preliminary rounds were not managed by the NCAA but rather by the district colleges, and thus these games are not recorded in the official history books of the NCAA. The winner of each district managed playoff (although some districts did not have playoffs and chose to select their teams by committee) were sent to the College World Series, which was an eight-team double-elimination tournament. The 1950 event was the first in Omaha, where it has remained.
From 1954 through 1974 the tournament consisted of eight districts, named by number. Each consisted of between two and five teams playing in differently formatted tournaments. Some years included automatic College World Series qualifiers, and that team played no district games; for an example see 1959. The winner of each district moved on to the College World series, which was double-elimination.
The first year of the regional format was 1975. Eight regionals consisted of four teams in a double-elimination tournament. The winner of each regional moved on to the College World Series, also double-elimination.
The tournament essentially remained unchanged from the 1975 version, however, one regional consisted of six teams in a double-elimination tournament, with four teams in each of the other seven regionals. The winner of each regional moved on to the College World Series, also double-elimination.
The tournament expanded again in 1982--to 36 teams--to include two regionals with six teams while the other six regionals only had four teams. The Regionals remained double-elimination with the winners moving onto the College World Series, also double-elimination.
Subsequently, the tournament field expanded to 38 teams in 1985, 40 teams in 1986, and 48 teams in 1987.
The four-team regional format and the best-of-three super regional format debuted in 1999, with the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams.
The best-of-three championship series at the College World Series debuted in 2003 after CBS ceased coverage of the "one-off" College World Series championship game. This allowed the NCAA to institute the best-of-three series for the finals, which better mimics the traditional three-game series played during the regular season and makes a pitching staff's depth a key factor. ESPN and ESPN2 now cover the entire CWS. After 61 years at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, the College World Series moved to the new TD Ameritrade Park in 2011.
Since 1999, the NCAA has awarded eight teams with a national seed. These teams automatically host a super regional if they advance past the regional round, unless their facilities are considered inadequate by the NCAA and thus do not bid to host, or their home stadium is unavailable because of scheduling conflicts. The former was the case for Cal State Fullerton in 1999, as its ballpark lacked the required seating capacity and media facilities at the time. The latter was the case for Missouri State in 2015.
Gray Shade and Italics indicates team made the College World Series. Bold Italics indicates team won the College World Series.
|#1||Miami (FL)||South Carolina||Cal State Fullerton||Florida State||Florida State||Texas||Tulane||Clemson||Vanderbilt||Miami (FL)|
|#2||Florida State||LSU||Miami (FL)||Clemson||LSU||South Carolina||Georgia Tech||Rice||Rice||North Carolina|
|#3||Cal State Fullerton||Georgia Tech||Southern California||Alabama||Georgia Tech||Miami (FL)||Nebraska||Texas||North Carolina||Arizona State|
|#4||Baylor||Clemson||Stanford||Rice||Auburn||Georgia Tech||Baylor||Alabama||Texas||Florida State|
|#5||Alabama||Houston||Tulane||Texas||Rice||Stanford||Ole Miss||Cal State Fullerton||Arizona State||Cal State Fullerton|
|#6||Stanford||Florida State||Georgia||South Carolina||Stanford||Rice||Cal State Fullerton||Nebraska||Florida State||Rice|
|#7||Texas A&M||Arizona State||East Carolina||Wake Forest||Cal State Fullerton||Arizona State||Florida||Georgia||Arkansas||LSU|
|#8||Rice||Stanford||Nebraska||Stanford||Miami (FL)||Arkansas||Oregon State||Georgia Tech||San Diego||Georgia|
|#1||Texas||Arizona State||Virginia||Florida||North Carolina||Oregon State||UCLA||Florida||Oregon State|
|#2||Cal State Fullerton||Texas||Florida||UCLA||Vanderbilt||Florida||LSU||Louisville||North Carolina|
|#3||LSU||Florida||North Carolina||Florida State||Oregon State||Virginia||Louisville||Miami (FL)||Florida|
|#4||North Carolina||Coastal Carolina||South Carolina||Baylor||LSU||Indiana||Florida||Texas A&M||LSU|
|#5||Arizona State||Virginia||Florida State||Oregon||Cal State Fullerton||Florida State||Miami (FL)||Texas Tech||Texas Tech|
|#6||UC Irvine||UCLA||Vanderbilt||North Carolina||Virginia||Louisiana-Lafayette||Illinois||Mississippi State||TCU|
|#8||Florida||Georgia Tech||Rice||South Carolina||Oregon||LSU||Missouri State||LSU||Stanford|
The highest single-game attendance for an NCAA Super Regional was at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-Dement Stadium at Mississippi State University. On June 9, 2007, 13,715 watched MSU beat Clemson to send the Bulldogs to the CWS. The second highest was set the day before, 12,620, for a 2-day Super Regional record of 26,381. In 2009, Ole Miss hosted Virginia in a Super Regional to set the 3-day record for total attendance with 29,646. That record was broken in 2015 when Arkansas drew a record 35,730 in their 3-game series win against Missouri State. The highest for an off-campus facility was set at Zephyr Field, a minor-league park in New Orleans. In 2001, Tulane and LSU battled for 3 games in front of 34,341 fans.
The highest single-game attendance for an NCAA Regional game was also set at Mississippi State; 11,496 watched MSU vs Florida State on May 27, 1990. For total attendance during a Regional series, LSU holds the top 2 spots at 67,938 in 1998 and 66,561 in 1997. MSU holds the next three to round out the top 5--64,723 in 1997, 63,388 in 1989, and 62,191 in 1990. All of those Top 5 regional attendance records were set under the old six-team Regional format.