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11:00 a.m. update - Spoke to a source who has been given strong indication that Liberty will be the three seed in the Columbia Regional. ... I haven't done much hunting for the four seed because those are oftentimes shuffled quite a bit on the Monday morning of announcement day. There will not be a lot of newness, so to speak, in this Regional but that's what I got right now.
I've exhausted the phone lines and talked to as many different people as possible and that's what I got. No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Liberty, No. 4 ??? and matched up with UNC. We'll see how it all shakes out here shortly. Judging by the responses and page views, yall have found this of interest at least. Thanks for paying attention.
10:15 a.m. update - ACC and SEC are still fighting hard to prevent Clemson and South Carolina playing in the same Regional. It's rare, but not unheard of, that a change that big is made this late in the game. I'm still sticking with what I was told late last night though that it was looking like Clemson. I'll have some insider notes on all of this tonight in the VIP Room no matter how it all plays out.
8:40 a.m. update - I really wanted to sleep until about 9 a.m. this morning. Stupid phone. ... Confidence level that Columbia and Chapel Hill are matched up is high. Confidence level that Clemson is in Columbia as the two seed is also fairly high. I know that the ACC and the SEC do not want this to happen again, so I'm not ruling out the conference reps on the committee can't get something done, but it looks like the Tigers are coming back to Columbia.
2:10 a.m. update - Hearing more and more about South Carolina and North Carolina being matched up in the Super Regional round. Obviously, that and the Clemson news, which continues to be strong, is contrary to what we posted on Saturday afternoon. As we said then, it was all very fluid. The committee had a change in thinking. Nothing is set in stone yet. There could be further changes but that's what we're hearing right now.
12:35 a.m. update - I guess this is considered Monday, right? I haven't gone to bed, so I still call it Sunday. But I digress. ... I've been working the phones tonight and really, really wanted to put out something substantial for yall in terms of who South Carolina will host in Columbia for the Regional and what Super Regional the Gamecocks would face. Unfortunately, I do not have any real concrete info to give.
There have been late night efforts to push Clemson to another Regional and it's been a discussed among the committee. I don't know how that is going to shake out. The SEC representatives have pushed for a different ACC school - Georgia Tech or Miami - to come to Columbia. We'll see how it plays out. Around 9 p.m. tonight, it wasn't a slam dunk but more like a lay-up, that Clemson was going to come to Columbia. Right now, not so sure.
More news that some will love and some will hate ... Remember in the update below I said it was "very fluid" but it didn't look like Clemson would come to Columbia and Columbia wouldn't be matched up with Chapel Hill? Well, we've been told UNC is very much on the table to be matched up with USC in the Supers, should both teams advance. I wasn't real sure why USC/UNC was unlikely, but the people feeding me info on this have been right, so I didn't really question it. The person I spoke to tonight regarding which Regional that USC would be matched up with said he heard late this afternoon it looked like USC/UNC. I'm sure it probably changed a dozen times from that conversation until the final bracket is put together but I point that out to say that North Carolina (like Clemson) is still very much on the table.
For those who don't know, the final bracket will be complete tonight. The committee will finish the bracket before breaking for the night and getting back together in the morning. They'll go over the bracket once more with a fine-tooth comb but it's typically only minor changes that are made, not major ones. The committee is very protective of its bracket prior to the Noon special on ESPNU. I'm going to try to get an update but I don't know what, if anything, I'll be able to get off of the final bracket. Stay tuned though.
9:15 p.m. update - To go a little bit deeper on this, the Southeastern Conference and its committee members have pushed hard to keep Clemson out of Columbia. Texas A&M athletics director Eric Hyman lived through that last year and knows the hassles it caused. He also knows that both coaching staffs hated it and it was just undesirable all the way around. The SEC folks have pushed against it. The Committee, right now, isn't hearing it and want to put Clemson back in Columbia.
I spoke with a source on the ACC side of things just a few minutes ago. He was assured last night that Clemson was going to be sent somewhere besides Columbia. He is currently looking into it to see what has changed. I'll pass along any further updates.
8:50 p.m. update - I have confirmed with 100 percent certainly that South Carolina is a Regional host.
I have also learned that there has been a shift in thinking on the committee -- as things stand right now, there is a high possibility that Clemson will be the two seed in the Columbia Regional. It's not a definite, but I'd say it's likely. ... Again, it's fluid, but that's what it looks like right now.
1:35 p.m. update - This could very well be the only update of the day but we'll bring you any news we receive. We were told that South Carolina is still sitting comfortably on the board to host. I either have really bad sources, which I don't think is the case, or South Carolina is going to host. I don't think there's anything happening today that can knock the Gamecocks off the host board. Either I've been given bad information the whole time or there will be baseball in Columbia this weekend. Given the fact that the national guys changed their tune last night, they're either members of TheBigSpur.com or they have people telling them the same things my guys are telling me.
As far as who comes to Carolina - I don't really have any good information on that just yet. I'm trying to bring yall actual information, not projections. I'll pass along anything I hear.
8:08 p.m. update - I feel almost as good about South Carolina hosting right now as I did on Wednesday before Nolan Belcher threw the first pitch of the SEC Tournament. The committee was having some second thoughts late last night and early this morning about the Gamecocks but never once have they taken them off the board as a Regional host site. Not once. They're still there now and the events of today have only strengthened South Carolina's standing.
As the day has gone along, the committee has gone back to its feelings about the Gamecocks, which is what led us to say prior to the SEC Tournament that USC was a lock to host. South Carolina is not a lock to host but was told this evening it's about a 75 to 80 percent chance. One rule in this job that I have kind of forgotten throughout this and will be sure to remember going forward is nothing is absolute until it is announced. I should not have said South Carolina guaranteed a host as, when there is still a weekend of baseball to play, things can happen.
Can things change between this writing and the announcement in just over 24 hours? Yes. Based on the information I've gathered tonight, I do not believe it will.
Based on the information I'm receiving tonight, and this is certainly very fluid, it is unlikely that Clemson will be in the Columbia Regional and it's also unlikely that the Columbia and Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional will be matched up.
Just to reiterate, this information is coming from people with knowledge of the committee's discussions. This is not me looking and balancing RPIs, strength of schedules, conference rankings/affiliations, or anything like that. I'll leave that stuff to the national writers. Basically, I'm not trying to project the field like they are but I'm trying to bring to you guys, our members, insight into the discussions as I get information.
We'll also have some additional behind the scenes info that I can't release now but can after the field is announced on Monday. It's not a definite right now that South Carolina is a Regional host but it's getting close.
4 p.m. update - The committee is currently meeting and discussing the host sites. Even before the LSU/Arkansas game has gone final, momentum is shifting back in favor of South Carolina to be a host site for the Regional round. As of this writing, South Carolina is on the board as one of the Regional hosts and our sources are saying that is unlikely to change.
Right now, the committee is considering giving the SEC five Regional sites with Arkansas being the fifth. Their RPI is hurting them but their strength of schedule, which is No. 55, is killing them.
Also, for the record, as things stand right now, Clemson is on the outside looking in.
3:10 p.m. update - Got a phone call just a bit ago that said South Carolina is on the committee's board as one of the last three Regional hosts.
Saturday morning update - Momentum has shifted in South Carolina’s chances to host a Regional and the likelihood is high one game on Saturday will dictate whether the team is at home or on the road. The Arkansas versus LSU game in today’s SEC tournament will likely determine who gets one of the final hosts spots.
Should Arkansas defeat LSU on Saturday afternoon in the SEC Tournament to advance to the championship game, the Gamecocks (39-18) should be ready to pack their bags for the NCAA tournament’s first round. The Razorbacks (37-19), bolstered by a late-season charge through the tournament, a No. 3 standing in the SEC regular season, and 17 wins versus top 50 RPI, would vault over the Gamecocks.
Arkansas entered the SEC Tournament with an RPI in the 50s and decision-makers when determining the host sites went into the week with the Hogs already scratched off their list. Given the RPI-boosting wins, Arkansas is back in the mix. Sitting at No. 30 in the RPI right now, a win would put Dave Van Horn’s club in the SEC Tournament Championship Game and move the RPI into the 20s. That is believed to give them a strong enough resume to jump over Carolina.
The Gamecocks stumbled to the finish line losing four of five games - three to Mississippi State and one to Vanderbilt - all against teams ahead of them in the RPI. First-year head coach Chad Holbrook’s club finished its season with currently an RPI of No. 13, finished at No. 4 in the SEC standings, and had 11 wins over top 50 RPI teams.
What happens in the ACC Tournament with Clemson and Virginia Tech, we’re told, will have no bearing on South Carolina. Yes, the NCAA always says they take conference affiliation out of it and look at resumes, but one SEC and one ACC club will get a Regional host site from the four-team group of Clemson, Virginia Tech, Arkansas and South Carolina.
While obviously a situation that can continue to change, South Carolina should have a good idea mid-to-late afternoon regarding if they’ll be at home or on the road next weekend.
This post has been edited 16 times, most recently by John Whittle on 5/27/2013 at 1:29 PM
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