After a somewhat disappointing weekend in Greensboro at the ACC tournament the Cavaliers will look to continue their winning ways this weekend in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Some would say that the NCAA baseball selection committee "hosed" the Cavaliers again this year with giving them the #5 National Seed and putting Ole Miss in their regional. While the #5 seed wasn't expected, it is still a national seed, and still the first time in program history that UVa has been a national seed host. Like last year, I would expect the team to be a bit shocked but not to dwell on the placement of themselves or any of the other teams in their bracket. I remember watching the selection show last year with the rest of the team and being fairly surprised that we had been put in the Irvine regional and drawn Strasburg but I wasn't really upset. After the selection show, Coach O'Connor will usually sit down with the team and give a mini pep talk about who gives a hell who we play or when we play. That is where the moniker and motto from last year's postseason was developed of "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime".
I don't think that the draw was nearly as bad as everyone on certain message boards are making it out to be. Sure, UVa will probably have to go through a very strong Ole Miss team to make a Super-Regional, and sure, they drew the Big East tournament champ in St. Johns. But let's look at it this way:
The Hoos first round game will be against the Colonial Athletic Association tournament champ, VCU. UVa is very familiar with this instate rival as we have played them every year atleast once for as long as I can remember. This year, UVa beat VCU 10-5 in a midweek game in early may. The Hoos also haven't lost to the Rams in the past 4 years. The boys will certainly have a highly detailed scouting report no the hitting, given the experience, and Coach MacMullan shouldn't have a hard time getting scouting reports on the starting pitchers either. I look for Cody to start this game against VCU which would set up the rotation for the rest of the weekend quite nicely.
The next round will be the tricky part as the Hoos won't know who they will play til late Friday night. While either team will be a formidable opponent for the 2nd round, don't expect the team to be unfamiliar with either St. Johns or Ole Miss. Obviously they will be fairly familiar with the Rebels as all 8 position player starters return from the team that took 2/3 in Oxford last season and they will have an ungodly amount of tape to watch. While the Hoos haven't played St. Johns since 2005 (lost in Corvallis, OR regional) I wouldn't expect them to be unprepared to play the Red Storm. You can bank on Coach Kuhn to be in the stands late Friday night watching both teams and preparing a scouting report on the hitters and I am sure Coach Mac will have reports on the whole team from his ties to coaches across the country.
Of course, winning a Regional is difficult. I would venture to say that winning a regional is more difficult than winning a super-regional but this team has something going for it we didn't have last year, a home field advantage.