DURHAM, N.C. -- Virginia is No. 1 in Baseball America’s preseason top 25 rankings for the first time in program history. The Cavaliers, who have reached the 50-win plateau in three of the last four years, return eight starters from a team that ranked in the nation’s top 10 last year in scoring, doubles, triples, slugging and walks. Virginia’s highest previous ranking in the preseason was No. 2 in 2010.This marks the second consecutive year that an Atlantic Coast Conference team has ranked No. 1, as North Carolina opened last year atop the rankings and went on to earn the No. 1 national seed and finish among the final four teams at the College World Series. Before last year, no ACC team had topped BA’s preseason rankings since 2003. ACC teams occupy three of this year’s top six spots overall, with North Carolina State achieving its highest preseason rank at No. 5 and Florida State checking in at No. 6.
As usual, the Southeastern Conference leads all leagues with eight teams in the top 25 -- and four in the top 10. Its highest-ranked team is South Carolina at No. 7, followed by fellow SEC teams Mississippi State, LSU and Vanderbilt in the next three spots. The ACC is next with six teams in the top 25, followed by the Big 12 and Pac-12 with three apiece.
No. 2 Oregon State, No. 3 Indiana, No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 22 Kansas State each earn their highest preseason rankings ever. For the Hoosiers and Wildcats, this marks the first time either has cracked the BA preseason Top 25. Indiana, which won a super regional at Florida State last year en route to the CWS, is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the preseason top 25 since Michigan entered the 1988 season at No. 3. No Big Ten team has opened a season ranked higher.
Defending national champion UCLA enters the season ranked 12th after losing two-thirds of its weekend rotation and its starting shortstop. National runner-up Mississippi State opens at No. 8. All eight of last year’s College World Series participants are ranked inside the top 20.
The staff of Baseball America determines the top 25 rankings. Last year’s records do not include ties.