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NCAA hopes on line as conference baseball tournaments open

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In this May 11, 2019, photo, Vanderbilt's Austin Martin connects for a hit during an NCAA college baseball game against Missouri in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt's blazing second half of the season has turned it into one of the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference tournament this week in Hoover, Alabama. Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi State are also among the top seeds when the games begin Tuesday, May 21. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
In this May 11, 2019, photo, Vanderbilt's Austin Martin connects for a hit during an NCAA college baseball game against Missouri in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt's blazing second half of the season has turned it into one of the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference tournament this week in Hoover, Alabama. Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi State are also among the top seeds when the games begin Tuesday, May 21. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament are on the line in 25 conference tournaments this week. The 16 NCAA regional hosts will be announced on Sunday and the rest of the 64-team field next Monday.

A look at the tournaments in the power conferences (the Pac-12 does not play a tournament):

ACC

Site: Durham, North Carolina.

Days: Tuesday to Sunday.

Defending champion: Florida State.

Top seed: Louisville.

Short hops: Five to nine teams could make the NCAA Tournament depending on what happens in Durham and in other tournaments. Count on Louisville, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina and North Carolina State, with the Cardinals and Yellow Jackets set to be top-eight national seeds. ... The team to watch is Florida State, which has never missed nationals since Mike Martin took over in 1980. The Seminoles must go on a run to make it in Martin's final season. They play Wake Forest and N.C. State in pool play. ... Louisville's Reid Detmers leads the ACC in wins (11), ERA (2.42), opponent batting average (.170) and strikeouts (138).

BIG TEN

Site: Omaha, Nebraska.

Days: Wednesday to Sunday.

Defending champion: Minnesota.

Top seed: Indiana.

Short hops: This is not a vintage year for the Big Ten, so no team is in contention to host a regional on its own merit. The question is how many teams will make the national tournament. Indiana and Illinois are safely in, with Nebraska and Michigan still needing one or two more wins. ... Illinois and Minnesota are both 8-2 over their last 10 games and are the hottest teams. ... Indiana teammates Matt Lloyd and Cole Barr share the Big Ten home run lead with 16 apiece but will be playing in a cavernous ballpark where the long ball can be hard to come by.

BIG 12

Site: Oklahoma City.

Days: Wednesday to Sunday.

Defending champion: Baylor.

Top seed: Texas Tech.

Short hops: Baylor and West Virginia have some work to do to join Texas Tech and Oklahoma State as regional hosts. Though the Bears finished second in the regular season, they lost twice to Oklahoma State over the weekend and probably need at least one win to host. West Virginia is playing its best ball right now and is poised to play at home for regionals for the first time if it can win two or three in OKC. ... Texas Tech appears to have locked up a top-eight national seed for the third time in four years. ... OSU has hit 78 homers, 25 more than the next team in the Big 12 (TCU).

SEC

Site: Hoover, Alabama.

Days: Tuesday through Sunday.

Defending champion: Mississippi.

Top seed: Vanderbilt.

Short hops: Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Arkansas are poised to be national top-eight seeds, and Georgia also could earn one of those coveted seeds with a win or two in Hoover. ... The opening game between No. 11 seed Florida and No. 6 seed Texas A&M has huge implications. The Gators, who have made every NCAA Tournament since 2008, strengthened their case with a road sweep over Missouri but might be on the outside looking in if they lose. A&M won two of three over Arkansas to boost its hopes of hosting a regional but would get some insurance with a win over the Gators. ... Vandy's JJ Bleday leads the nation with 25 homers.

NCAA AUTOMATIC BIDS

Four teams have locked up automatic bids by winning conference tournaments last week: Harvard (Ivy), Florida A&M (MEAC), Army (Patriot) and Southern (SWAC).

Harvard (27-13) is in for the first time since 2005 and Southern (32-22) for the first time since 2009, Florida A&M (27-32) made it with a losing record and Army (34-24) beat out Navy for the bid for the second straight year.

IN THE POLLS

UCLA (45-8) has won eight straight and remains No. 1 in the final regular-season polls ahead of Vanderbilt, which has won 18 of 19. Stanford (39-10) is No. 3 by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper, while Mississippi State (45-11) is third by D1Baseball.com.

TUMBLING TEXAS

Coming off a College World Series appearance in 2018, Texas was one of the season's biggest disappointments after losing 16 of its last 23 games and failing to make the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns had won 12 of their first 15, including series wins over LSU and Texas Tech. The Longhorns will miss the Big 12 Tournament for only the second time since the event went to an eight-team format in 1999.

DASCHBACH'S DINGERS

Andrew Daschbach became the first Stanford player to hit four home runs in a game. He went deep against four different pitchers in a win over Cal Poly last week. He joined UCLA's Bill Scott (vs. Washington in 1999) as the only Pac-12 players to hit four in a game.

HURTS SO GOOD

Kentucky batters were hit by pitches eight times in a 7-4 win over Michigan last week, with Wolverines starter Walker Cleveland plunking three in 4 1/3 innings.

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This version corrects last name of Indiana's Matt Lloyd in Big Ten item.

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