The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins this Friday all across the country. The Atlanta Regional, hosted by our Jackets, will be played by Georgia Tech, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Austin Peay respectively. 2011 is the third straight year that Tech has hosted a regional and the 25th in 27 years. Unfortunately, the last time Georgia Tech made it out of the Regional round was back in 2006, also the last time the Jackets reached Omaha and the College World Series.
Who are these teams and how did they get here? Glad you asked.
#1 Seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (40-19) Atlantic Coast Conference
Georgia Tech is kind of wobbling into the tournament, not really hurting but not exactly on first. The Jackets had a sluggish start to 2011, kicked it in full gear for a strong middle and may have lost a little steam in the end as the schedule was back-heavy against teams such as North Carolina and Virginia (both national seeded teams). The 2011 season should be viewed as a success however for Danny Hall's squad as a majority of players this year were underclassmen and questions about their stamina and abilities were answered stoutly.
#2 Seed Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles ( 39-17) Conference USA
How They Got Here: Conference USA Champions
What We Need To Know: 2011 is setting up very similar to 2009. Two years ago, Georgia Tech and Southern Miss played in the Regional Championship, only to see USM beat the Jackets and move on to play National Seed Florida Gators. This year the Gators are the overall #5 seed and our regional is paired up with Gainesville yet again. Might history repeat itself or play in our favor?
#3 Seed Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-23) Southeastern Conference
How They Got Here: A pretty good season in a very good conference.
What We Need To Know: Find a MSU fan and tailgate with them. They're always a good bunch. Find a person who calls themselves a Leftfield Lounge Lizard, and you've hit he jackpot. MSU fans have always been quirky with their cowbells and such but they're a fun group. This is Mississippi State's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. That same year the Bulldogs reached the College World Series.
#4 Seed Austin Peay Governors (33-22) Ohio Valley Conference
How They Got Here: Ohio Valley Conference Champions
What We Need To Know: First off, they are located in Tennessee. Other than that, not much. Georgia Tech and Austin Peay have played one time before in the past, back in 1996 in an NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge. The Jackets won the game 14-3.
Will you be going to the Regional this weekend? Buy tickets here!