BLOOMINGTON – To no one’s surprise, Indiana is back in the NCAA baseball tournament.
The Hoosiers (33-22-2) earned a No. 2 seed as part of the four-team Lexington Regional. That got them a Friday opening round shot at No. 3 seed North Carolina State (34-23).
North Carolina State comes in as one of the hottest teams in the country. It has won 14 of its last 17 games. It’s making its third straight NCAA tourney appearance and 15th in the last 20 years.
This is IU’s second trip to the NCAA tourney in coach Chris Lemonis’ three seasons. No other Hoosier baseball coach has done that.
Indiana is making its seventh NCAA tourney appearance overall. The others came in 1949, ’96, 2009, ’13, ’14 and 15.
Top-seed Kentucky (39-20) opens regional play Friday against Ohio (31-26). It’s a double elimination format.
IU played UL during the regular season at Cliff Hagan Stadium and lost 5-2.
The Hoosiers were tied for the highest Big Ten seed. Nebraska (35-20) also was a second seed, but in the Oregon State Regional.
The Big Ten had two No. 3 seeds in Michigan (42-15) and Maryland (37-21). Big Ten tourney champ Iowa (38-20) was a No. 4 seed.
The five Big Ten teams making the NCAA tourney tied a conference record. The Southeastern Conference led the nation with eight teams.
Indiana was rewarded with a No. 2 seed despite a 1-2 showing in the Big Ten tourney. One big reason — its conference-best No. 27 RPI.
It also reflects smart scheduling. The Hoosiers were 9-7-1 against NCAA tourney teams. They were 8-7-1 against teams with top-50 RPI. Two of those losses came to top-ranked Oregon State in Arizona.
Minnesota, which beat the Hoosiers twice in the event, failed to make the NCAA Tournament.
IU has been a Big Ten power in recent years. Since 2008, it leads the conference in wins (343) and conference wins (147). It’s been to five NCAA regionals in tha span, the most of any Big Ten team.
The Lexington Regional winner will face the Louisville Regional winner the next week in the Super Regional round.