Tennessee baseball learned they will be playing in the Clemson regional on Monday afternoon.
After a full week of being projected to land in the Terre Haute, Indiana, regional, the fact Tennessee is heading to Clemson, the fourth national seed, is a bit of a surprise.
Indiana State made sense as they figured to be one of the lower-seeded hosts (ended up as 14th national seed), and Tennessee had one of the best RPI of the non-host teams (20th overall).
Fifteen of the 16 hosts were top-16 in RPI, so the committee clearly values the metric. While the NCAA Baseball Tournament does not rank all 64 teams and seed every team accordingly, one would think Tennessee would be viewed as a top-tier 2-seed given their solid RPI ranking.
But ultimately, the committee did not view Tennessee as one of the stronger 2-seeds, likely given their poor road record and non-conference wins.
Clemson hosting a dangerous two-seed such as Tennessee is unfortunate for Clemson, given they are the fourth overall seed. But it is also bad news for Tennessee.
The Tigers are the hottest team in the country over the last month and change. Before running the table to win the ACC Tournament, Clemson finished the regular season on a 12-game winning streak and won 17 of their final 18 games. Additionally, Clemson hasn’t lost a series since March 30–April 1 against top-ranked Wake Forest.
The last time Clemson lost a game was April 28 to Boston College.
Indiana State would have been a much more manageable opponent for Tennessee to try and make their third consecutive super regional appearance, but making it out of the Clemson regional will be an incredibly tough task.
To further put it into perspective, if every team in the Field of 64 were seeded and placed in regionals accordingly, Tennessee would be the 28th overall seed with Clemson being No. 4.
The Vols went 4-12 in true road games this season and 5-15 anywhere outside of Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tennessee has the pitching to make it out of any regional, but inconsistent offense has plagued them on the road so far in 2023.
We’ll see if Tennessee can put it together and reach the super regionals for the third consecutive year, but they will have their hands plenty full with the Tigers.
The Clemson regional is matched up with the Auburn regional, so if Tennessee does reach the supers, they would have to go through the other Tigers, barring any upsets.
Tennessee will face off against 3-seed Charlotte on Friday at 6 p.m. ET in the late game on ESPNU. Lipscomb is the other team in the regional.