South Carolina baseball wants to host NCAA super regional. Here’s how to make it happen

Over three months ago, as South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston sat behind a microphone before the 2024 baseball season kicked off, he spoke of the goals at USC.

The expectation is to win a national championship. Make it to the College World Series, at least. But the goal, Kingston said, was for South Carolina to host a super regional.

“The great majority of teams that get to Omaha hosted their super regional,” Kingston said then. “In my time here, we were on the verge of Omaha twice but we had to go on the road (and play) teams that ended up playing for the national championship (Arkansas in 2018 and Florida last season).”

With just over three weeks left in the season, the Gamecocks are within striking distance of earning a super regional.

The 15th-ranked Gamecocks are 30-14 with an 11-10 record in SEC play — which puts them seventh in the conference standings — heading into this weekend’s series at Missouri.

South Carolina will finish the regular season with a series against Georgia (32-12, 10-11 SEC) and at No. 3 Tennessee (37-8, 15-6 SEC).

As it stands, the Gamecocks are in a great spot to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament. For those unaware, much like the basketball tournament, the NCAA baseball tournament committee complies college baseball’s field of 64.

The top 16 teams host a regional that includes three other teams, all vying for one spot in the super regional. And while the NCAA has discretion on where the super regionals are played, any team seeded among the top eight that wins their regional is guaranteed to host. If you’re seeded nine to 16, you’ll be rooting for the higher seeded team in the adjacent regional to lose.

In other words: You really want to be seeded among the top eight teams.

Right now, the Gamecocks are on the bubble.

According to D1 Baseball’s latest bracket prediction, South Carolina, which is ranked 10th in RPI, is a 10-seed hosting a regional that also includes Coastal Carolina, Georgia Tech and USC Upstate. If they won, the Gamecocks would face the winner of the Tallahassee Regional, hosted by No. 7 Florida State.

In On3’s bracket prediction, South Carolina is also a 10-seed, which would host a regional and play Oklahoma State, James Madison and Army. If they made it through, the Gamecocks would likely face No. 7 Kentucky — or the champ of the Lexington Regional.

The good and bad news: These things are fickle. Before the Gamecocks took two out of three from No. 4 Kentucky last weekend, they were out of the hosting picture. But, because the SEC is so good, South Carolina was able to make up ground quick.

Which leads us to the future.

The Gamecocks are within striking distance of being a top-8 seed while also not being too far away from traveling to another park for a regional. If South Carolina gets swept this weekend at Missouri, they will likely drop outside of the top 16.

But to boost their RPI and solidify themselves as a top-8 team, the Gamecocks probably need to win five of their final nine SEC regular-season matchups, including winning the series at No. 3 Tennessee. That, plus at least two wins at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, would put USC at 18 conference victories — two more than it had last season.

Even then, nothing is a guarantee. If the Gamecocks win their final three series and don’t go one-and-done in Hoover, one would imagine they’d be a lock to be a top-8 seed when the bracket is announced on May 27.

Anything less and they’ll have to hope some similarly-ranked teams didn’t get hot.

But the more South Carolina wins, the more these conversations go away. If the Gamecocks sweep Missouri (20-26, 6-15 SEC) — arguably the worst team in the conference — the pressure will let up a little. Lose two in CoMo and it’ll take a heck of a run to even host a regional.