Get Ready For The 2011 NCAA College Baseball Tournament

May 18, 2011

The Lowdown On The Selection Process & Tourney Format…

Less than two hours remains until the field is announced for this year’s Division One NCAA Baseball Tournament. We have been receiving questions about how selections are made and the format of the tournament leading up to the College World Series.

With that in mind, here is a quick refresher course on just how the selection process works as well as the formats for the Regional, Super Regional and CWS rounds of the NCAA baseball tournament.

  • 64 teams will qualify for the NCAA Baseball Championship.
  • 30 of the 64 teams that qualify for the tournament will receive automatic bids based on winning conference championships. Most of those automatic bids go to teams that win their conference tournaments.
  • The West Coast Conference, Big West and Pac-10 do not sponsor postseason tournaments, so their automatic bids go to the regular-season champion.
  • Since there are only 30 automatic bids, 34 at-large spots in the tournament are selected by the NCAA baseball committee.

The following people comprise the NCAA Division One Baseball Committee:

Tim Weiser, Big 12 Conference, chair

John Anderson, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Dennis Farrell, Big West Conference

Larry Gallo, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

John Hardt, Bucknell University

Kyle Kallander, Big South Conference

Mark LaBarbera, Valparaiso University

Chris Monasch, St. John’s University (New York)

Gary Overton, East Carolina University

Bobby Staub, University of Louisiana at Monroe

CLICK HERE to see the updated list of the 30 automatic qualifiers for the 2011 NCAA Baseball Tournament.

According to the NCAA’s 2011 Division One Baseball Championship Handbook (PDF), here is how at-large selections are made:

  • The committee uses the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), a computer program that provides the committee with (1) the institution’s Division I winning percentage, (2) opponents’ success and (3) opponents’ strength of schedule. The RPI is an additional tool used in the evaluation of at-large teams. Please note that the adjusted RPI takes into account a bonus/penalty structure. Bonus and penalty values only will be used for non-conference games.
  • Regular-season conference standings and/or conference postseason competition shall be considered by the committee when selecting at-large teams.
  • The committee may consider comparing data of individual teams, including, but not limited to, overall record, Division I record, overall RPI rank, non-conference record and RPI rank, conference regular-season record and conference tournament results, road record and RPI, last 15 games’ record, its record against teams ranked 1-25, 26-50, 51-100, 101-150 and below 150 in the RPI, head-to-head record, common opponents’ record and input from regional advisory committees.
  • Make no mistake … RPI is a huge factor in the selection and seeding process.
  • Regional host sites will be announced on Sunday, May 29, while the field of 64 will be announced on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day).

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The same criteria also is used in determining seeding for Regionals and the top-eight national seeds. The top-eight national seeds essentially are the eight teams that (at least in theory) should make it to the College World Series. Top-eight seeds are guaranteed they would not have to play each other until the CWS.

Here’s how the tournament is formatted:


  • 16 four-team Regional tournaments take place at different locations around the country.
  • Ordinarily, all Regional and Super Regional tournaments are located on or near the campus of one of the competing institutions; however, a Regional or Super Regional tournament may be scheduled at a neutral site provided advance approval is obtained from the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet.
  • The committee shall attempt to place Regional tournaments so that maximum national balance can be obtained, preferably at least one Regional in each of the eight Division I baseball regions.
  • Except for the 16 No. 1 Regional seeds, the pairings for the  Regionals, whenever possible, will be based on closest geographical location of the teams to the tournament sites. Teams may be moved outside their regions, if necessary, to balance the bracket, or if the proximity to an opponent outside the region would be comparable and a better competitive matchup would occur.
  • Two teams from the same conference cannot be placed in the same Regional.
  • Teams from the same conference that are seeded first in their respective  Regional will be placed on the bracket to avoid potentially meeting in the Super Regionals.
  • Typically, #1 seeds host Regionals, but it is possible for a #2 seed to host.
  • Teams are seeded 1-4 within each Regional, with the #1 seed playing the #4 seed and the #2 seed playing the #3 seed on the first day of the tournament.
  • The tournament is played out in a double-elimination format, with the winner advancing to one of eight Super Regionals.
  • As noted below, one change made a couple years back is that the potential game-7 of a Regional (i.e. both teams have one loss) is played on Monday, whereas it used to be played on Sunday night (barring weather rescheduling, there never will be more than two games played in one day at a Regional site).

Here’s the Regional format:

Day 1
Game 1 — No. 1 seed vs. No. 4
Game 2 — No. 2 vs. No. 3

Day 2
Game 3 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 4 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Day 3
Game 5 — Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
Game 6 — Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

Day 4
Game 7 — If necessary, same teams as in Game 6

Super Regionals

  • Two teams will play a best 2-of-3 format to determine the Super Regional winner.
  • Super Regional competition takes place at on-campus sites or alternate sites that are approved by the baseball committee.
  • Consideration for hosting shall be given to the higher seed, including the eight national seeds, if a suitable hosting proposal has been received (e.g., meets financial guarantee and quality of facility criteria). If the higher seed has not submitted a proposal, the lower-seeded team will host if its proposal is acceptable.
  • If the Super Regional matchup is between equally-seeded teams, the committee shall review the hosting proposals according to the site selection criteria (e.g., quality and availability of the facility, revenue potential and other available accommodations) to determine the host. If only one of the teams has submitted a
    proposal, that team shall host if the proposal is acceptable.
  • Winners of the eight Super Regional tournaments will qualify for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Note: While the tournament starts with 16 #1 seeds, for the purposes of Super Regional pairings only the top-eight national seeds are taken into consideration. According to the NCAA, the other eight #1 Regional seeds all “become a nine seed” when it comes to pairing which regionals will face off in the Super Regional round. Super Regional pairings are made based on geography rather than actual seed (hopefully we won’t see things like a third straight year of Texas and TCU beating matched up as potential Super Regional opponents, etc.).

Here’s the Super Regional format:

Day 1:  Game 1 — Team A vs. Team B
Day 2: Game 2 — Team A vs. Team B
Day 3: Game 3 — if necessary, Team A vs. Team B

College World Series

  • The eight winners of the Super Regional competitions will advance to the College World Series.
  • Two four-team brackets will play a double-elimination tournaments to determine the bracket champions (similar to the regional format).
  • The CWS Finals best 2-of-3 format consists of single games Mon., Tues. and Wed. (if necessary), June 28-30.
  • The College World Series begins on Sat., June 18. The road still leads to Omaha, but this year it ends downtown at the new TD Ameritrade Park. offers officially licensed College World Series memorabilia year-round!

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