The SEC might be making this a habit. For the second time in five years, the conference is sending four teams to Omaha and the College World Series. In the history of the NCAA baseball tournament, a conference has sent four teams to the College World Series in one year only five times — and the SEC is responsible for four of those times.
The conference started with 10 teams in the NCAA baseball tournament field and is now sending four teams to the 2019 College World Series to make up half the field: Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Three reached as Super Regional hosts (Razorbacks, Bulldogs and Commodores). Auburn is in the CWS for the first time since 1997. The Tigers were the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta Regional, where they swept through the competition in three games, including No. 3 national seed Georgia Tech. In the Super Regionals, Auburn upset No. 14 national seed North Carolina, routing the Tar Heels 14-7 in Game 3.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 10, 2019
The SEC West has an even better claim: Three division teams are heading to Omaha.
Here’s the complete list of four-team conference appearances at the CWS:
- SEC in 2019: Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
- SEC in 2015: Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Vanderbilt
- ACC in 2006: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), North Carolina
- SEC in 2004: Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina
- SEC in 1997: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 9, 2019
Arkansas is the only team in the country to be part of such a group three different times. This year, the Razorbacks are the lone representative on one four-team bracket in Omaha; Auburn, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are with Louisville in the other.
This is only the second time a conference will have three teams in one bracket in the CWS. In 2006, the ACC had Clemson, Georgia Tech and North Carolina in one bracket. The Tar Heels made it to the CWS Finals, losing to Oregon State.
By sending four teams, these conferences have a 50-percent chance of winning the title, at least by the raw numbers (not counting matchups, seeding, etc.). Yet LSU’s title in 1997 is the only instance one of those four-team CWS conferences ended up winning it all. The Tigers beat SEC rival Alabama in the Final, too.
Here’s how the conferences have done each four-team year.
|Year||ConF.||Teams||Overall CWS record||Vs. Conf.||Vs. Others||Deepest run|
|6-8||2-2||4-6||North Carolina; Runner-up|
|5-8||1-0||4-8||Georgia, South Carolina; Semifinals|
Along with being part of an SEC party in Omaha, Arkansas has another piece of history it hopes to join this year.
In 2014, Virginia lost to Vanderbilt in the CWS Finals to fall one game short of a national title. But the Cavaliers made it back to the CWS the next year. In 2015, Virginia knocked off Vanderbilt for the crown.
Arkansas lost a heartbreaker to Oregon State in the CWS Finals a year ago. Now the Razorbacks are the first runner-up to return to Omaha the following season since those 2014-15 Virginia teams.