The Lake Elsinore Regional is the only one of the sixteen regionals not being played at the one-seed’s home stadium.
UC-Santa Barbara’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium does not have lights, which makes hosting the regional round basically impossible with the number of games you have to get in at a site.
So the Gauchos will host their regional 176 miles down the road at Lake Elsinore’s The Diamond, and have a very difficult and unfavorable draw.
The other three teams in town will be the USC Trojans, Virginia Cavaliers, and San Diego State Aztecs. Two of those three schools actually play closer to Lake Elsinore than UCSB. The other team was ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this year.
UCSB is not exactly coming into the postseason feeling good about themselves either. UC-Riverside had not won a single weekend series all year, until last weekend when UCR took two games from the Gauchos. There are also rumors surrounding their head coach Andrew Checketts on the potential of him possibly heading to Arizona to fill the void left by the retiring Andy Lopez.
2-seed USC has been struggling a bit coming down the stretch as well. The Trojans were solidly in regional hosting position about a month ago, but several series losses since have dropped them to the two-line, but they still got a favorable location. Also, the winner of this regional will play the winner of the Los Angeles Regional in the Super Regional round, which means a possible USC/UCLA Super Regional.
3-seed Virginia started the season 10-0 and 12-1, which had them ranked tops in the country at the time. But then a sweep at the hands of Virginia Tech dropped them out of there, and they never seemed to fully rebound.
The Cavaliers only have one other bad series loss, and that was to Georgia Tech in April. The other series losses came to Florida State, Louisville and NC State. They also have a series win over Miami this year. The fact that they were dropped all the way to a 3-seed is surprising, and they may be the strongest 3-seed in the field.
And then there’s San Diego State, who come in riding high after a Mountain West Tournament victory. The Aztecs had to win five games over a three-day span after losing their first game against Fresno State to earn the automatic bid, so a little bit of adversity certainly won’t get them down.
This is one of the most wide-open of the 16 Regionals, and the location certainly doesn’t do any favors for Santa Barbara. I am leaning towards USC getting out of this group of four teams, but I wouldn’t be surprised by any of them moving on to Super Regional weekend. These games should be a lot of fun.