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The tradition continues

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College baseball tradition, that is.

As you may have read from me before, college baseball is seriously tilted to the west. Additionally, I have a tendency to use the Mississippi River as the dividing line both because it's geographically important as well as the fact that it takes LSU away from the east and leaves them in no man's land as they're on the Mississippi. Anything to further an argument, of course.

Anyway, all three teams from east of the Mississippi lost their first round game in Omaha this year. The big upset was, of course, Arkansas over Fullerton. Even the Razorbacks meet this criterion as a western team. Somewhat humorously, the SEC has two teams in the winner's bracket in Omaha and they are the only two teams in the conference that are not located east of the river. The reason I bring this up is the continuing ESPN talk that the ACC is now a power baseball conference. The real fact of the matter is that the ACC and SEC are obviously more likely to play other eastern teams in their regionals, which makes their roads to Omaha easier. Now, each individual bracket may only be slightly easier than a western team's bracket, and in a few cases they will be harder as this isn't a 100% certain rule. But add them up and the only reason the east gets nearly as many teams to Omaha as the west is because of the geographical assignments in the regionals.

But you say Texas has beaten two SEC teams in the championship this decade. They had to get all the way there. True enough. But in 2002, South Carolina was in their half of the bracket with Clemson, Nebraska, and Georgia Tech. One non-eastern team. Their regional was all eastern teams (Virginia Commonwealth, James Madison, North Carolina) and their opposite regional was all eastern teams (Miami - whom they beat in the Super, Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Florida International). They had one game against a team west of the Mississippi, against Nebraska in the first elimination game, before playing Texas. That compares to 11 games against eastern teams.

What about 2005? Florida's run to the championship series was somewhat more impressive. While all 8 teams in their Super Regional bracket were eastern, they did get through Nebraska and Arizona State in Omaha. Arizona State took them to the edge as a #2 seed that had won a regional at Coastal Carolina (shocking) and then beat Fullerton. Actually a surprisingly good showing for an eastern club.

What about North Carolina's back-to-back championship series appearances (where they shockingly lost both to western teams)? 2006 - all 8 Super Regional teams were eastern, 2 of their 3 Omaha half opponents were eastern (Fullerton was the exception). 2007 - all 8 Super Regional teams were eastern. 2 of their 3 Omaha half opponents were eastern.

Last year's CWS? Won by Fresno State. Sure they were a ridiculous Cinderella story, but you're not going to see an underdog out of the east take the baseball tournament by storm. Georgia advanced to the championship series against Fresno State by having all 8 teams in their super regional from the east and 2 of their 3 Omaha opponents from the east (sound familiar?). Stanford was the only western team in their way before Fresno State.

I know at some point the tide should turn. Maybe. But right now if you want to bet on a college baseball game and a team from east of the Mississippi is playing a team from west of the Mississippi, you know how to bet if you don't have time to do any more research than that.