Sun Belt Conference lands three into NCAA Baseball Tournament

From the Sun Belt Conference

For the eighth time in the last 13 years the Sun Belt Conference will send three baseball teams to the NCAA Division Baseball Tournament as the NCAA Division I Baseball Selection Committee announced the field of 64 on Monday, May 30.

UALR earned the conference's automatic bid to the tournament after winning the SBC tournament title over the weekend, while Troy and FIU - earned at-large selections.

The multiple selections in 2011 mark the 23rd-consecutive year the SBC has received two or more bids to the NCAA tournament. The last time the conference had more than two was in 2010 when the Panthers, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Lafayette received bids to the NCAA tournament.

UALR (24-32) will be playing its first NCAA Tournament after winning the 2011 SBC Baseball Tournament title on Sunday, May 29. The Trojans defeated FIU 7-6 to claim its first SBC Tournament title after posting a 4-0 record in the new pool play format. The Trojans entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed, which had never won an SBC tournament title prior this year.

UALR defeated the tournament's top overall seed, Troy, by score of 4-2, then defeated WKU, the tournament's No. 4 seed 9-5 to clinch a spot in the championship finale. The Trojans then went on to defeat No. 5 Florida Atlantic 5-3 to complete pool play undefeated.

UALR was also one of three teams in the SBC to have never won a tournament title. The Trojans will travel to Corvallis, Ore. to take on Oregon State (38-17) in the Corvallis regional.

Troy (42-17) dropped its first game of the SBC tournament to the Trojans before rebounding against Florida Atlantic 9-6 and WKU 4-2. The regional bid for the Trojans is the 19th appearance and the first since the 2007 season. Troy was the 2011 SBC regular season champions after compiling a record of 21-9 during the season. Troy is second in the SBC in pitching with a team ERA of 3.74 but did lead the league and the NCAA in doubles with 146. They were tied for second with 43 homeruns.

The Trojans owned a record of 18-12 against the top 100 teams in the RPI this year. Troy will take on Oklahoma State (35-23) in the Nashville Regional.

FIU (40-18-1), the SBC tournament's No. 2 seed, went 3-0 during the SBC tournament before losing to UALR in the championship game. The Panthers defeated No. 7 Arkansas State 13-10 in 10 innings, then shutout No. 6 South Alabama 11-0 before taking its final game of pool play from Louisiana-Lafayette 11-8, also in 10 innings. The Panthers will be making its tenth NCAA appearance and its first back-to-back tournament appearance since 2002.

FIU led the league in hitting and in pitching. The Panthers finished the season with a .319 batting average, 427 runs scored and 59 homeruns. FIU also led the league in pitching with a staff ERA of 3.58 allowing a league low of 210 earned runs. In its last 25 games the Panthers have compiled a 21-3-1 record.

The Panthers will take on James Madison (40-17) in their first game of the Chapel Hill Regional.

Only five other conferences had more selections than the SBC: ACC (7), SEC (7), Big 12 (6), Pac-10 (6) and C-USA (4). Two other conferences received three teams: Atlantic Sun and Big East.

The 2011 season was another successful season for the conference as the league saw its overall RPI climb up to No. 6 in the country. Two of the league's teams (FIU and Troy) posted 40 or more wins for the second time since the 2003 season, while six of the ten teams posted 30 or more wins.

The national top eight seeds are Virginia (49-9), Florida (45-16), North Carolina (45-14), South Carolina (45-14), Florida State (42-17), Vanderbilt (47-10), Texas (43-15) and Rice (41-19).

Each of the 16 regionals features four teams, playing a double-elimination format. The regionals are scheduled to be conducted from Friday, June 3, to Monday, June 6 (if necessary). Selection of the eight super regional hosts will be announced on, Monday, June 6 at approximately 11 p.m. (ET).

The 65th Men's College World Series begins play Saturday, June 18, at the new TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska.

Chapel Hill Regional hosted by North Carolina

(Winner advances to play the winner of the Fullerton Regional)

#1 North Carolina (45-14) vs. #4 Maine (32-22)

#2 FIU (40-18-1) vs. #3 James Madison (40-17)

Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon St.

(Winner advances to play the winner of the Nashville Regional)

#1 Oregon St. (38-17) vs. #4 UALR (24-32)

#2 Creighton (44-14) vs. #3 Georgia (31-30)

Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt

(Winner advances to play the winner of the Corvallis Regional)

#1 Vanderbilt (47-10) vs. #4 Belmont (36-24)

#2 Oklahoma St. (35-23) vs. #3 Troy (42-17)