Jun 17, 2013; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs first baseman Wes Rea (35) after their College World Series game against the Indiana Hoosiers at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA Today Sports
If Mississippi State wants to do well in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, they need to secure a national seed.
This isn’t necessarily the thought among Mississippi State fans, but it is the prevailing thought among many analysts and fanbases. The easiest way for a baseball team to maximize their success in the NCAA Tournament, is to secure one of those top eight spots. It comes with a number of advantages, so it is easy to see why people think that. Just how important is it to Mississippi State though?
The most obvious advantage that securing one of those top eight seeds is that you never have to play a road game in the tournament until you get to the College World Series. That includes both the Regional and the Super Regional. In the Super Regional era of the NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State has made it to that round on five separate occasions, but they have only hosted it once. That came in 2007, the year of Ron Polk’s highly improbable final appearance in the College World Series. No other program would experience a boost from their fans like Mississippi State would. Our fans are far more passionate about baseball than any other program in the country, and they would pack Dudy Noble Field and The Left Field Lounge just like we did in 2007.
Besides the boost that the fans would give, simply playing on your home field and being familiar with it is a huge boost. One of the things that makes baseball so unique is that there are no set parameters to how a baseball field should be set up. When teams play on their own field and know the intricacies of that field, it is a significant advantage that often gets overlooked.
Securing a national seed also brings stability. If you get one, you don’t have to look at other scores and regional venues to determine where you are going to play. Being able to plan on games in your own park often means the families and friends of the players can be in attendance. This alleviates the stress of them having to make arrangements for family members wanting to make a road trip with the team.
There is also a perception that comes with the national seed. Just how excited fans get about post season play is often determined by how the team has done in the regular season. Mississippi State fans were excited about the post season in 2013, but it had more to do with a really strong finish than it did with a consistently great regular season. Getting one of those spots would rubber stamp what your team accomplished.
In terms of making it to Omaha and doing well there, the 2013 squad proved that you don’t need a national seed to do well in the NCAA tournament, which would make this fiction. There is some truth to this though. Expectations are as high as they have ever been for an athletic team at Mississippi State. They are starting off ranked number 2 in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball. A season that doesn’t produce a national seed might cause fans to start to fret about how far this team can make it in the postseason. Just from a perception standpoint, I believe State needs to make sure they secure one of those spots.