No. 14 Mississippi State (43-17) will open the 2013 Starkville Regional with a rematch against Central Arkansas (39-20), which is one of the three teams selected to open NCAA play this weekend at Dudy Noble Field. UCA will be the No. 4 seed, and the Bears took two of three from the Bulldogs in Starkville the weekend of March 8-10. Those were MSU’s only two non-conference losses this season.
The other two teams coming to Starkville are No. 2 seed South Alabama (42-18) and No. 3 seed Mercer (43-16). Those teams will meet at 2 p.m. Friday, while MSU and UCA meet at 7 p.m. The Starkville Regional winner – it’s a double-elimination format – will play the winner of the Charlottesville Regional, being hosted by Virginia. The other three teams in that regional are UNC-Wilmington, Elon and Army. Virginia (47-10) is the tournament’s No. 6 national seed.
Of the four teams in the Starkville Regional, UCA has the lowest RPI rank, at 62nd. Mercer is 29th, and South Alabama – which was in the hosting discussion for a while – is 17th.
The last time MSU hosted a regional, in 2003, North Carolina won it to advance to the super regional round. State has won 5 of the 11 regionals it’s hosted, most recently in 2000, when it beat South Alabama once and Notre Dame twice to advance.
Here are the eight national seeds, who have priority when it comes to hosting in the super regional round:
No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 3 Oregon State, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, No. 6 Virginia, No. 7 Florida State, No. 8 Oregon.