Slim chance for Tech in NCAA regional?

Georgia Tech's 28th NCAA tournament appearance in the past 30 years begins Friday at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN3) with a matchup against No. 2 seed Washington. What chance does third-seeded Tech have at advancing out of the Oxford, Miss., NCAA regional?

How about 9 percent?

In the past five NCAA baseball tournaments, out of 80 four-team regionals, the No. 1 seed has won 60 of them, followed by the No. 2 seed with 12 wins,  the No. 3 with seven and the No. 4 seed with 1. (Congratulation to the uber-anomaly 2012 Stony Brook baseball team.)

It shouldn’t be a surprise. The NCAA selection committee evidently knows what it’s doing. Further, by giving the No. 1 seed the right to host the regional, the top seed’s chances are weighted even more heavily. It starts the regional with the weakest seed, thereby almost always avoiding a loss in the first game while one of its main competitors takes one, which perhaps goes without saying is critical in a double-elimination tournament.

The knowledgeable Tech baseball fan may remember (perhaps with some discomfort) that two of the seven No. 3 seeds to win did so in regionals where Tech was the No. 1 seed, Mississippi State in 2011 and Alabama in 2009.

The Yellow Jackets may have it even tougher than most No. 3 seeds. Their opponent in their opening game, Washington, was thought to be strong enough to be in contention to host its own regional. The Huskies, who were picked to finish 10th in the 11-team Pac-12 (Colorado doesn’t have a team, finished two games behind conference champion Oregon State, which received the top overall national seed.

Washington, at least on paper, looks like a slightly better version of Tech – not much offense or power (batting average of .280, 95th in home runs per game at .45) but strong defensively (fifth in the country in fielding percentage at .981) and pitching-wise (3.23 ERA).

Tech’s batting average is .279, is 149th in home runs per game (.34) but is 43rd in fielding percentage (.973, including .980 in the last 44 games) and has a near identical 3.28 ERA.

I would venture to guess that the Jackets have a better chance at winning a regional than most No. 3 seeds on the strength of its pitching. Tech can roll out four starting pitchers in Josh Heddinger (3.64 ERA, will start Friday), Devin Stanton (2.27), Ben Parr (2.74) and Matthew Grimes (4.22) who have routinely beaten top teams in the ACC. The Jackets have taken series from two teams who’ll have No. 1 seeds (Miami and Florida State), a No. 3 seed (North Carolina).