Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Razorbacks draw Santa Clara in regional round of NCAA Tournament
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn is shown during a game against Tennessee on Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will open the NCAA Baseball Tournament with a game against Santa Clara on Friday at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The game will begin at 2 p.m. and will be streamed by ESPN+. Santa Clara (35-18) is the No. 4 seed at the double-elimination NCAA Fayetteville Regional.
Second-seeded TCU (37-22) and third-seeded Arizona (33-24) will also play Friday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. Arizona was one of the final four teams to make the tournament, according to the selection committee.
More from WholeHogSports: Get to know teams in the Fayetteville Regional
Arkansas (41-16) is the No. 3 overall seed for this year’s tournament, which guarantees the Razorbacks will have home-field advantage before the College World Series. It is the sixth time Arkansas has earned home-field advantage, and the fourth time since 2018.
"For some it seems like it’s just what we do, but it’s really hard to get here," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said, "and I made sure the players heard that from my mouth."
Santa Clara was the winner of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Broncos are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.
Van Horn said he did not know much about Santa Clara as he spoke to reporters 15 minutes after the matchup was announced.
"I know that they’re a champion," Van Horn said. "They won something. They’re a championship team."
TCU won the Big 12 Tournament. The Horned Frogs defeated the Razorbacks 18-6 on Feb. 18 at the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, in the second game of the season for both teams.
Arkansas is hosting TCU at a regional for the second time. The Razorbacks defeated the Horned Frogs in the championship of the 2019 Fayetteville Regional.
"We felt like we’d get somebody from the area," Van Horn said. "I wasn’t sure it would be TCU, but they’ve had a great year. I did watch them win the Big 12 championship game yesterday; I watched most of it. We all had a thought they might be heading this way."
Arizona earned an at-large bid after a strong finish against Pac-12 competition. The Wildcats played at the College World Series two years ago and lost in the regional to eventual national champion Ole Miss last year.
The Pac-12 has five teams in this year's tournament.
"I know that league out there is awfully good," Van Horn said. "I know they were a team that had to wait to see if they got in and they got in, so I’m sure they’re extremely excited to be playing."
The winner of the Fayetteville Regional will play a best-of-three-game super regional next week against the winner of the Terre Haute (Ind.) Regional that includes host Indiana State, the No. 14 overall seed, as well as Iowa, North Carolina and Wright State.
That pairing has the potential to pit Arkansas against North Carolina in a super regional for the second consecutive season. The Razorbacks defeated the Tar Heels twice at a super regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., last June.
Arkansas is hosting a regional for the 10th time and for the fifth time since 2017. The Razorbacks have won five of the previous nine regionals played at Baum-Walker Stadium, including the last three in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
The SEC and ACC combined to host 12 regionals and have seven teams with home-field advantage for both rounds.
The top-8 national seeds, in order, are: Wake Forest, Florida, Arkansas, Clemson, LSU, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Stanford.
“There was no discussion about [how] we need this many teams from the SEC or there's too many or not enough,” said John Cohen, the Division I Baseball Committee Chairman who is also the athletics director at Auburn and a former coach at Mississippi State. “We do not do that with any leagues. No one is keeping a running total because if you are, you're not picking the best teams.”
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