If the Diamond Dawgs are to advance to the Super Regional and to the College World Series, it’ll be on a road that’ll begin on the road.
Georgia, a team that a few weeks ago was projected as a regional host, faltered down the stretch, losing four SEC series in a row and as a result, saw its resume tainted, ending up as the second seed in the Chapel Hill Regional, hosted by North Carolina.
The goal, of course, for the Diamond Dawgs, will be to reverse the recent course against a regional made up of multiple teams that are on a roll.
Georgia opens the regional on Friday against third-seeded VCU, winners of 15 straight, with regional host UNC riding a burst of momentum coming off of an ACC Tournament victory.
The Tar Heels, the No. 10 national seed and seeded first in the regional, open play against Hofstra.
The fact is, this regional could have been a lot worse. Should Georgia play well, it has a very good chance to advance out and make it to the best-of-three Super Regional, where the Chapel Hill regional winner is matched up with the Oklahoma State regional that also includes Arkansas.
In all honesty, it was a surprise that the NCAA selection committee did not prioritize regional matchups and send Georgia or Georgia Tech, as some projections indicated, to the Statesboro regional. Remember how much of a sigh of relief we had when Georgia avoided losing to Georgia Southern in 2015? It wouldn’t have been on the same level, but Georgia losing to Georgia Southern in a postseason regional in Statesboro would have been something Georgia fans around the coastal region would have heard about for a very long time.
In some years, geographic matchups have been common. Georgia, for example, has had regional matchups with teams like Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Georgia Southern. The NCAA this year appears to have decided to not punish the home team in regionals, awarding a true home-field advantage.
Speaking of Tech, they’ll be in the regional with top national seed Tennessee. And in a move that’s familiar to Georgia fans from the last time the Dawgs hosted the regional, Auburn may have been awarded a regional, but drew UCLA and Florida State.
Georgia has had foul fortune in recent years as a regional host, losing both teams and failing to advance. Who knows - maybe playing on the road works in the Dawgs favor, this time.