How do state teams stack up in their respective NCAA baseball regionals?

UNC and Wake Forest have favorable draws as regional hosts while NC State could benefit from a bracket whose top seed may already looking ahead to a Super Regional showdown with a rival

Brian Westerholt—Four Seam Images
Junior first baseman Gavin Sheets leads Wake Forest into this weekend's NCAA tournament regional against West Virginia

As the No. 2 national seed playing on its home field, the North Carolina baseball team has some distinct advantages heading into its four-team NCAA tournament regional pod this weekend. That doesn’t mean the Tar Heels have a clear path into their first Super Regional since 2013. Coach Mike Fox’s dominant team might be playing at a high level, having won 16 of its last 19 games, but it faces some potential landmines in a group that also includes Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan and in-state rival Davidson. Among them is its own NCAA inexperience, having missed out on the tournament in each of the past two years. ACC rival Wake Forest will also be hosting a regional while NC State takes to the road as the No. 3 regional seed in Lexington, Ky., as play in the 64-team tournament begins on Friday. UNC’s most challenging test could turn out to be its opening game against fourth-seeded Davidson. The fourth-seeded Wildcats (32-24) had the Tar Heels on the ropes in their regular season meeting at Boshamer Stadium on May 9, leading 6-3 before UNC rallied to tie the game by scoring three times in the ninth. ACC Rookie of the Year Ashton McGee won it an inning later with an RBI double. While Fox has yet to announce his regional pitching plans, he figures to hold ACC Pitcher of the Year J.B. Bukauskas back until Saturday when UNC faces FGCU or Michigan in either a winner’s bracket or elimination game. The Eagles (42-18) are a deceiving No. 2 seed because of their lack of name recognition and record that includes two losing streaks of at least five games. This is their first NCAA tournament appearance in just eight years of Division I eligibility. The newly crowned Atlantic Sun Conference champions were, however, ranked as high as ninth nationally after starting the season at 24-3 and list ACC tournament winner Florida State and Florida as their victims. Michigan, on the other hand, stumbles into NCAA play having lost two straight in the Big Ten tournament. The Wolverines (42-15) finished second in the conference during the regular season and were the last team to make the tournament field. The winner of the Chapel Hill Regional will be paired against the winner of a Houston Regional that includes the host Cougars, Baylor, Texas A&M and Iowa. As one of the top eight national seeds, UNC (47-12) would be the host for that best-of-three series if it advances. Like the Tar Heels, Wake Forest (39-18) would seem to be a heavy favorite to advance out of its regional in a bracket that includes West Virginia, Maryland and UMBC. Coach Tom Walter’s Deacons are a solid 21-7 at home and have won all six series played at David F. Couch Ballpark this season. They head into tournament play for the second straight year having set school records with 19 ACC wins and 96 home runs. In addition to a lineup that includes five players with 10 or more homers, led by first baseman Gavin Sheets with 20, Wake’s pitching staff features three second-team All-ACC selections in starters Parker Dunshee and Connor Johnston, along with closer Griffin Roberts. The Deacons also have NCAA experience, having played in the tournament a year ago. The same can’t be said for the second-seeded Mountaineers (34-24), who are making their first regional appearance since 1996. America East champion UMBC has qualified two previous times, the most recent in 2001, but the Retrievers come into the tournament with a pedestrian 23-23 record and a team earned run average of 5.63. The team most likely to give the Deacons trouble is former ACC rival Maryland. The third-seeded Terrapins (37-21) have been wildly inconsistent this season, but have the potential to offset Wake’s big bats with a starting rotation that includes Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Brian Shaffer and the conference’s Freshman of the Year Tyler Blohm. Maryland also has NCAA tournament history going for it, having advanced all the way to the College World Series just two years ago. The winner of the Winston-Salem Regional is paired against the survivor of a Gainesville, Fla., bracket that includes host Florida, South Florida, Bethune-Cookman and Marist. While it’s premature to begin projecting potential Super Regional matchups, the anticipation of showdown between rivals Kentucky and Louisville could be one of several things NC State has going for it entering its regional in Lexington, Ky. The Wolfpack (34-23) is the No. 3 seed in a field with host Kentucky, No. 2 Indiana and fourth-seeded Ohio. But coach Elliott Avent’s team is among the