Cardinal Nine headed to Athens

To claim a Regional title for the second consecutive year, the Louisville baseball team is going to have to take out a pair of teams in their own backyard.

The Cards are the three seed in the Athens (Ga.) region, where they'll open the tournament against second-seeded Georgia Tech (39-19) at 7 p.m. on Friday.

SEC regular season champion Georgia (35-21-1) is the host school and top seed in the region, as well as the No. 8 overall seed in the tournament. The Bulldogs will open play against Atlantic Sun champion Lipscomb (32-28) in the early game on Friday.

After beating N.C. State in the first round, the Yellow Jackets lost consecutive games to Miami and Clemson in the ultra-competitive ACC Tournament. They still enter the big dance ranked  7th in the RPI.

Georgia struggled a bit more down the stretch, dropping four of its final five games, and going two and out in the SEC Tournament. Still, the Dawgs have never lost a Regional or Super Regional that they've hosted.

Louisville can expect to be overlooked a just a wee bit this weekend, as fans of both Georgia and Georgia Tech take their baseball very seriously. When the two in-state rivals met for the second time this season, the game was played at Turner Field and the attendance was just a hair under 23,000. Suffice it to say that the Cardinal contingent at Foley Field is going to be heavily outnumbered.

While landing in Miami or North Carolina's bracket would have probably been worse, the committee certainly didn't do us any favors here. For the Cards to advance past this weekend, they're going to have to win at least three away games against a pair of squads that are both more than capable of making a run to Omaha. U of L handled the hostility of Columbia extremely well (Dominguez) a year ago, but Missouri's fan base isn't nearly as rabid as Georgia or Georgia Tech's.

Regardless, it should be an awesome weekend of baseball.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

--That school from Lexington also made the field as an at-large selection. The Wildcats are the three seed in the Ann Arbor Region, where Michigan is the host, but Arizona is the top seed. We might not like it, but I think Kentucky has an extremely good shot at coming out of this Regional and then hosting a Super Regional at Cliff Hagan.

--Sun Belt champion Western Kentucky is also in the field for the first time in five years. The Hilltoppers are the four seed in the Stillwater Region, where they'll take on host Oklahoma State in the region's opener. TCU and Wichita State round out the four-team field.

--If Louisville and Kentucky were to both win their Regional and Super Regional, the two would meet in the first game of the College World Series. Think that might garner a little attention in the area?

--You can view the full 64-team bracket right here .

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