It's official. The NCAA baseball tournament field of 64 teams that will be fighting their way to that big circular stadium in Omaha is all set. The pursuit of the ultimate dogpile under the confetti blasters at TD Ameritrade Stadium begins this Friday with the regional round on the ESPN family of networks.
What are the 10 biggest storylines to come out of the NCAA selection show? Let's take a quick whirl around.
Miami's rather impressive streak is still alive, as the Hurricanes will compete in the NCAA tournament for the 44th consecutive year, this time as the No. 3 national seed. Beyond the Canes, Florida State has gone to the postseason 39 straight years; Cal State Fullerton continues its 25-year regional streak; and Rice will be in the NCAAs for the 22nd-straight year.
2. Peaking at the right time
Ohio State, picked for the Louisville Regional, made the biggest climb of anyone from the midseason point onward. On April 18 the Buckeyes had an RPI of No. 157. After winning the Big Ten tournament this past weekend, they find themselves at No. 35, which would have been good enough for an at-large bid if they had needed it.
Louisiana Tech was sitting at No. 117 at the midway point of the season before going on a streak and working its way up to No. 31 and into the Starkville Regional.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, BYU was rated at No. 19 in the RPI following the eighth weekend of the season. Today, the 37-17 Cougars sit at No. 53 in the RPI and will be staying at home for June.
3. Ageless wonders
So much for the old adage "The game has passed him by." The old guard in college baseball is still getting it done. Rice coach Wayne Graham is leading his Owls to the Baton Rouge Regional at the age of 80 years young. Meanwhile, Florida State's Mike Martin, 72, and Miami's Jim Morris, 66, have their teams hosting regionals, and Minnesota's John Anderson, 61, has his Gophers headed to College Station.
4. Saying goodbye
While the announcement show was on, news broke that coaching legend Augie Garrido was "relinquishing his duties" as Texas coach. Garrido retires after 1,975 wins while making stops at UT, Cal State Fullerton, Illinois, Cal Poly and San Francisco State, where he started his coaching career in 1969.
An hour later, Alabama's seven-year head coach Mitch Gaspard announced he was stepping down immediately as well. Gaspard finishes his era with the Tide going 234-193 with four NCAA tournament appearances. But Bama has missed June madness for two straight years now.
5. Newbies and re-newbies
Four greenhorns will be joining party this year with Alabama State (Tallahassee Regional), Fairfield (Lubbock), St. Mary's (Raleigh) and Utah Valley (Baton Rouge) playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. A pair of droughts were stopped with at-large bids, too. Duke (Columbia) ended the longest NCAA tournament absence with its first bid since 1961, and Louisiana Tech (Starkville) earned its first bid since 1987.
6. Record set, not in a good way
North Carolina has the ignominious tag of being the highest-rated team in RPI history to not receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. Prior to the No. 19 Heels being barred this year, the highest RPI team in history to not get an at-large bid was Virginia back in 2003, when the Wahoos had ranked No. 22.
7. The West wake-up call
It is definitely time for the West Coast teams to shake the cobwebs and refocus for 2017. It was a brutal season for teams west of the Pecos. For the first time since 1994, there are no regionals out West. This is the first time the West has been snubbed for host sites in the 64-team field era, which started in 1999.
Only 11 bids were extended to teams in the West, and the first round will see a pair of occidental programs facing off, as 2-seed Arizona State and 3-seed Gonzaga square off in Fort Worth and 2-seed UC Santa Barbara and 3-seed Washington open play in the Nashville Regional.
8. The ACC reaches critical mass
Even without North Carolina making the field of 64, the ACC had a record-setting day, collecting 10 bids in all. That ties the high-water mark set by the SEC in 2014. Word of warning: Only three of those 10 teams advanced to the super regional round two years ago. Three of the seven teams that were eliminated in the regionals were No. 1 seeds playing at home.
9. Easiest regional: Texas A&M
I don't think there is anything easy about playing Binghamton (and ace Mike Bunal, who holds opponents to a .212 average) or the capable talents on the roster of Minnesota and Wake Forest. But consider the "wide-eyed" factor on these teams. The Demon Deacons and Gophers have no players on their rosters who have played in an NCAA tournament game. Imagine their first postseason experience coming at raucous Blue Bell Park? That is the biggest reason the Aggies should have a breeze through the first weekend. Now, a potential super regional vs. TCU? Oof. That's a tough draw.
10. Toughest regional: NC State
Not only do the Wolfpack have regional rival Coastal Carolina, which has to be angry over being snubbed for a host spot, but the Pack probably got the toughest 1-vs.-4 matchup by having to deal with Navy's Luke Gillingham, who went 8-3 with a 1.96 ERA and held opponents to .191 average. On top of that, you've got to say the Chanticleers have the best chance of a No. 2 seed winning a regional.