Less than 24 hours after learning it would host an NCAA tournament site for the first time, the Virginia baseball team received one of the 16 No. 1 seeds.
The Cavaliers (42-13) will open the tournament Friday night at Davenport Field against Princeton, which was seeded fourth in Virginia's four-team pod after winning the Ivy League for the fourth time in five years. No. 2 seed Vanderbilt will play No. 3 seed George Mason in Friday's afternoon opener.
With only seeding and opponents at stake, the announcement was perhaps a tad anticlimactic, but the Cavaliers still gathered at a Charlottesville restaurant yesterday to await the news.
"When it flashed up on the [TV] screen, we were pretty excited," junior shortstop Mark Reynolds said. "We're in good position right now, I think, to move on."
Virginia was positioned alongside Texas, the No. 1 overall seed, suggesting the Cavaliers were judged the weakest of the 16 top seeds. Vanderbilt (42-17), which played for the Southeastern Conference tournament championship Sunday, might be the strongest No. 2 seed.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy," said Brian O'Connor, Virginia's first-year coach.
The selection show was a bit more stressful for George Mason (39-17), which finished first in the Colonial Athletic Association regular season standings but was left hoping for an at-large bid after losing in the conference tournament to UNC Wilmington, the eventual champion.
"To me it's very well-deserved and it's a great reward for our kids," said Coach Bill Brown, who has GMU in the tournament for the fifth time and first in 11 years. "But the best part is it puts our program back in a kind of a national spotlight, and that's where we want to be."
Like the Patriots, the Cavaliers were rewarded for finishing second in the ACC and sitting in first for much of the season -- after being projected to finish seventh -- even though they went 0-2 in the conference tournament. This is their fourth NCAA bid and first in eight years, and their highest seed by far.
-- Jim Reedy