The 2019 NCAA baseball tournament begins Friday across 16 regionals. Sixteen No. 1 seeds will host games on campus as the road to Omaha for the College World Series begins.
Don't expect to see all chalk in this tournament. Since 2014, only 56 percent of No. 1 seeds won their regionals. In fact, a 3-seed has appeared in four of the past five College World Series fields.
With that in mind, here are five sleeper teams on the 3-seed line that could emerge from regionals this weekend.
Coastal Carolina | No. 3 in Atlanta Regional
Atlanta Regional (seeds 1-4): Georgia Tech, Auburn, Coastal Carolina, Florida A&M
The Coastal Carolina offense packs a punch, finishing tied for fourth in Division I home runs (87) and 11th in team batting average (.309). Five different regulars have double-digit homers, led by senior Zach Biermann's 19.
CCU used the long ball to power its 2016 title run in Omaha — the Chanticleers smacked a nation-best 96 homers — so it could see the same formula this time around. CCU is coming off a Sun Belt tournament where it averaged more than 13 runs per game en route to taking the league title.
Of course, facing Georgia Tech and Auburn in NCAA regionals is a different animal. But both top two seeds have pitching staffs nursing injuries. Georgia Tech's usual Friday starter Xzavion Curry is recovering from a shoulder injury while Auburn's two top starters, Tanner Burns and Jack Owen, missed some time in the SEC tournament.
Florida State | No. 3 in Athens Regional
Athens Regional (seeds 1-4): Georgia, FAU, Florida State, Mercer
Mike Martin's historic 40-year run at the helm of Florida State will come to a close after this season. The Noles hope his farewell tour ends with a long-awaited first College World Series title.
After starting 12-0, FSU has scuffled through the season and was named one of the last four into the NCAA tournament field with a 36-21 record. This is the first time since 2006 that Florida State will have to travel for regional play.
Don't count out FSU and Martin's experience though. No. 1 seed Georgia boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the nation and 2-seed FAU is a seasoned team that pushed 2018 top overall seed Florida to the edge in last year's regionals. But if you're looking for a storybook ending, one more Florida State run fits the bill.
Junior Drew Parrish will probably start Game 1 for FSU against FAU, sporting a 4.81 ERA in 15 starts. CJ Van Eyk (9-3, 3.74) will likely take the hill in Game 2 against either Georgia or Mercer. Florida State will lean heavily on the bats of Drew Mendoza (14 homers), Robby Martin (.346/.427/.503) and company for any surprise run.
Fresno State | No. 3 in Stanford Regional
Stanford Regional (seeds 1-4): Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, Fresno State, Sacramento State
This West Coast-heavy regional is going to be a lot of fun. Fresno State enters the tournament as winners of 12 of 13, including a two-game romp of UNLV to win the Mountain West tournament crown.
Outfielder Zach Ashford leads the charge with a .386 average and 1.039 OPS while third baseman McCarthy Tatum paces the team with 12 homers and 71 RBIs. On the mound, Ryan Jensen (11-1, 2.92 ERA) and Davis Moore (9-1, 4.12 ERA, two complete games) make a formidable duo.
Stanford is a strong No. 1 seed, coming in at No. 10 in the latest RPI. But Fresno State, no strangers to upsets in an NCAA baseball tournament, is on an absolute tear heading into postseason play.
Southern Mississippi | No. 3 in Baton Rouge Regional
Baton Rouge Regional (seeds 1-4): LSU, Arizona State, Southern Mississippi, Stony Brook
Baton Rouge is host to one of the deepest regions we'll see this weekend. Southern Miss vs. Arizona State could be an absolute slugfest in Game 1. ASU is first in the nation in homers and ninth in runs per game. No. 1 seed LSU then likely awaits the winner, sporting the regional's best pitching staff and home field advantage at the Box.
But Southern Miss is rolling, winning four straight games to win the C-USA tournament. USM shut out Rice and FAU in consecutive games, including a no-hitter in the semifinals against the Owls. Gabe Shepard tossed the first 7.1 hitless frames while walking one and striking out 12. Expect to see him again either Friday or Saturday.
Matt Wallner is the player to watch in the Golden Eagles' lineup. The power-hitting lefty is batting .324 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs this year. His walk-off homer against Rice in the C-USA tournament opener jumpstarted USM's current hot streak.
TCU | No. 3 in Fayetteville Regional
Fayetteville Regional (seeds 1-4): Arkansas, Cal, TCU, Central Connecticut State
It's hard to call a program that made the CWS four straight years from 2014-17 a "sleeper" team, but this year's version of the Horned Frogs had to sweat it out to be a surprise inclusion in the tournament field.
TCU (32-26) had some notable wins (Vanderbilt, West Virginia) and reached the Big 12 semifinals last week, but also had the worst RPI of any at-large selection (59) and finished under .500 in conference. When asked about the decision to include TCU, selection committee chair Ray Tanner noted that "they can be dangerous" with their starting pitching.
Jared Janczak, the Horned Frogs' ace two years ago in their last CWS run, is one of those arms who seems to have regained form after a season-ending surgery last year. Janczak tossed six innings with 12 strikeouts in Saturday's win over Oklahoma State.
A Janczak-Nick Lodolo combo on the mound could put TCU in position to justify its at-large selection with a couple wins.