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May 22, 2014

Louisville is a new power center in college baseball

College baseball has always been good in the South, Texas and Pac-12. In fact, 21 of the last 24 College World Series champions have been from those areas.

College baseball was shaken up with the rise of Oregon as a new power center with Oregon State winning two titles in 2006 and 2007.

The numbers are pretty staggering with the Pac-12 owning 17 titles and the SEC holding 9. The last team east of the Mississippi and north of Georgia to win the College World Series title was Ohio State in 1966.

But a new power region is emerging in the Kentuckiana area. There are currently five programs in RPI Top 25 within 175 miles of Louisville, Ky.

Indiana, 100 miles north of Louisville in Bloomington, is coming off a College World Series trip in 2013 and is currently third in the RPI.

Louisville, the center of college baseball's newest power region, made the College World Series in 2013 and is currently 20th in the RPI. The Cardinals have been to the College World Series twice in the last eight seasons, and have made a Super Regional four times.

A nice rivalry has developed between Louisville and Vanderbilt in recent years. The Commodores are located 174 miles south, and Louisville beat Vanderbilt in the 2013 Super Regional in Nashville to advance to the College World Series. Vandy made the College World Series in 2011.

Louisville's arch-rival Kentucky, located 65 miles to the East, While Kentucky hasn't had a run to the College World Series, the Wildcats have been a quality program and are currently 19th in the RPI.

The surprising program on the list is Indiana State. Currently 23rd in the RPI, the Sycamores are currently 35-16 and have wins over Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue and Connecticut. Indiana State is having its best season since making a run to the College World Series in 1986.

It is rare to have five top 25 baseball programs within 175 miles of each other.

There are three top 15 programs from the state of Florida with FSU at No. 2, Florida at No. 5 and Miami at No. 14, but Miami is 335 miles from Florida and it's another 150 miles to Tallahassee.

There are five programs in Texas in the top 13 of the RPI making the Lone Star state the top of college baseball, but those programs aren't as close as you might think either. Houston (9) and Rice (8) are in the same city, but Texas is 160 miles away and Texas Tech (12) is 520 miles away and TCU (13) is 240 miles away.

The Northwest has three teams in the RPI Top 25 with Oregon State at No. 4, Oregon State at 21 and Washington at 18, but those programs aren't as close as you might think. It is 260 miles from Oregon State to Washington and 280 miles from Oregon to Washington.

Having top quality college baseball in this area is a fairly new phenomenon, but the top programs in the area appear to be on an upward trajectory especially with Louisville transitioning to the ACC at the end of this season.

How the NCAA committee splits up the region's NCAA Regional pairings will be fascinating. Indiana is likely to land a NCAA Regional, but what about Louisville and Vanderbilt? Will the committee reward both?

Louisville NEWS


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