Monday's release of the NCAA Baseball tournament bracket sets up what figures to be a thrilling postseason packed with future Major Leaguers.
Tournament play begins this weekend with a host of big league prospects set to take the field for the regional round -- a four-team double-elimination format with the 16 winners advancing to the Super Regionals. The final eight squads will head to the College World Series on June 14-24 in Omaha.
North Carolina -- led by third baseman Colin Moran, the Draft's No. 6 prospect according to MLB.com -- earned the tournament's top overall seed. The Tar Heels will host a regional featuring Canisius, Towson and Florida Atlantic. Should UNC advance, it sets up a potential Super Regional against South Carolina -- champions in 2010 and '11 and runners-up in '12.
Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, rated No. 2 overall, figures to challenge Stanford's Mark Appel (No. 1) to be the top pick when the Draft kicks off June 6 on MLB Network and MLB.com. Gray's squad heads to the Blacksburg, Va., regional, where it will face Coastal Carolina. Appel's Cardinal team didn't qualify.
MLB.com's top-rated college hitter -- San Diego's Kris Bryant -- slots into the Los Angeles regional. The Toreros, who also feature right-handers Dylan Covey at No. 40 overall and Michael Wagner at No. 59, face Cal Poly in the first round. A victory there would likely lead a second-round matchup against traditional powerhouse UCLA.
Arkansas junior right-hander Ryne Stanek, rated No. 12 overall, possesses one of the best fastballs in the NCAA to go along with a promising slider. He leads a dominant Arkansas staff, whose 1.87 ERA leads the nation, into a regional in Manhattan, Kan., featuring Kansas State.
New Mexico third baseman DJ Peterson (No. 11) heads to the Fullerton regional, while Florida's Jonathon Crawford (No. 17) is set for the Bloomington regional.
Vanderbilt was given the tournament's No. 2 overall seed. The Commodores will host a regional featuring East Tennessee State, Illinois and Georgia Tech. Either Kevin Ziomek (No. 30 overall and one of the Draft's top left-handers) or Tyler Beede (a top 2014 Draft prospect and a former first-rounder) could pitch the opener against ETSU.
LSU and No. 22 overall Draft prospect Ryan Eades earned the fourth overall seed. The right-hander sports a dominant fastball as part of a three-pitch mix and could pitch the opener against Jackson State.
Oregon State rounds out the top four with the No. 3 overall seed. The other national seeds include No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, No. 6 Virginia, No. 7 Florida State and No. 8 Oregon.
The SEC led the NCAA with nine qualifying teams, while the ACC sent eight. No other conference had more than four.