Arkansas athletics/courtesy
Arkansas' first game at Baum Stadium this weekend won't come at night.

Real talk: Arkansas’ Fayetteville Regional not all that scary for Diamond Hogs

Eric Bolin

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Well, that could have gone much worse.

The Arkansas baseball team learned the opponents for its Fayetteville Regional on Monday. The NCAA Tournament selection committee announced the field of 64 just before lunch. Southern Mississippi, Dallas Baptist and Oral Roberts will all be headed to the Boston Mountains this weekend. ORU is a familiar face in these parts. The other two teams, not so much, although DBU was high on the prediction chart.

But, really, the draw probably could not have been better for Arkansas. Southern Mississippi’s RPI of 40 is lower than some No. 3 seeds that barely made the NCAA Tournament. That includes Dallas Baptist, which, by the committee’s telling, was one of the last four teams to make the field. Basically, the committee thinks Southern Miss is good but hasn’t really played anyone. Dallas Baptist has played a harder schedule. Some years ORU is closer to a No. 3 seed than its slotted No. 4, but this isn’t one of those years. Only two teams in the rest of the field have a lower RPI than the Golden Eagles. Arkansas will start things against ORU on Friday afternoon.

Knowledge of the opponents is helpful, especially considering Arkansas landed one of the coveted top 8 seeds. The Razorbacks are No. 5 overall, meaning the NCAA Tournament will stay at Baum Stadium as long as Arkansas keeps winning. Opposite Fayetteville is the Greenville (N.C.) Regional. East Carolina hosts South Carolina, Ohio State and North Carolina-Wilmington. Arkansas beat South Carolina two of three earlier this season but hasn’t played the other three teams.

All in all, it was a grand day for the Diamond Hogs. They’ll stay at home as long as they can. They get one of the weaker (technically) regionals in the tournament. And the pressure is gone. Time to play baseball.

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