Big news emerged in the college baseball world on Monday. For at least this year, the NCAA’s postseason model is changing a bit.
Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball was the first to report the NCAA will now predetermine its Regional and Super Regional hosting sites and will be announcing the locations in early May as opposed to the traditional timeline in which hosts have been announced following the conclusion of conference tournaments.
As Rogers reports in the Tweet above, the NCAA is planning to announce hosting sites the week of May 10. At that point, the regular season will still be rolling along.
OK, so what does it all mean for Mississippi State? Well let’s take a quick look.
Will Mississippi State host a Regional/Super Regional?
Well MSU will have to be chosen to do so, but it’s certainly in the running. The school either will or has already submitted a bid to do so. And here’s a unique part of the arrangement this year – if MSU is selected as a host site, it’s theoretically possible that Dudy Noble Field could host a Regional or Super Regional even if the Bulldogs aren’t playing in it.
This is an extremely unlikely scenario given that Mississippi State is currently thought of as one of the nation’s top teams. But if MSU is selected as a host site and somehow ends up not making the postseason at all, Dudy Noble Field would still have to host a Regional/Super Regional since it was selected.
A more possible scenario is something like this: Dudy Noble Field gets selected to host a Regional/Super Regional. The Bulldogs are then upset in their own regional. If there’s an upset on the other side in the paired regional, it’s possible two non-MSU teams would then play in Starkville with a trip to Omaha on the line.
So why is the NCAA doing things this way?
According to Rogers, the NCAA needs three weeks to get a host site certified from a COVID-19 protocol standpoint. That apparently wasn’t doable under the previous structure.
OK then, so what does MSU need to do to host?
Simply put, keep on winning. Because while host sites are being decided a lot earlier than normal, they are still going to be picked based on merit. Basically, the NCAA is going to award hosting sites to the country’s Top 16 teams as normal, it’s just that it’ll be the Top 16 teams as of late April as opposed to the Top 16 teams at the end of the season.
So MSU is in good shape then right?
Well, as of now, it would appear so. The Bulldogs are the No. 5 team in the country per D1Baseball so one would think that if the hosting sites were picked today, Dudy Noble Field would definitely be one of them.
Here’s the kicker though. Remember these hosting sites are going to be picked in early May. Between now and then, Mississippi State must play two other teams also considered among the best in the country – currently-No. 1 Vanderbilt and currently No. 3 Ole Miss. If those games, or any other games in April for that matter, go south for the Bulldogs, that would seemingly be a big blow to Regional/Super Regional hosting chances.
Conversely, State’s May games against some of the teams currently struggling in SEC play – such as Missouri and Alabama – won’t help MSU’s hosting chances, even if the Bulldogs win them all. By then, the hosting sites will already be determined.
So what’s the bottom line of all this?
MSU is likely in good shape to host postseason baseball at Dudy Noble Field as of today. But given that the hosting sites are now going to be announced in early May, it would behoove the Bulldogs to not struggle mightily in its remaining April SEC series against Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Because if they do falter in those series – at least from a hosting standpoint – MSU can’t use Missouri, Alabama and such to recover from a bad weekend or two.