by Barca Blog
Surprise, surprise... the Commodores are headed back to the NCAA Louisville Regional for the second straight season.
Most experts predicted Vanderbilt would be sent to Connecticut (with limo services provided by the Providence native pictured above), but instead, the NCAA committee did the opposite by keeping the Commodores closer to home for a regional rematch with Louisville.
And the storyline couldn't be more compelling.
The Dores have the opportunity to avenge their regional championship game loss to the Cardinals from a year ago. The Cards might also have a chip on their shoulder after Jason Esposito accidentally flipped his bat towards the pitcher's mound following his walk-off homer in the 17th inning a few weeks ago.
But first things first. Vanderbilt must focus on Illinois State, another familiar opponent, to start tournament play. The Commodores topped the Redbirds 9-2 in their first meeting in Nashville, but that was three months ago. Just look at the past two years to understand anything can happen in the postseason.
In 2009, Vanderbilt quickly fell into the losers' bracket with an opening round loss to Middle Tennessee, and eventually had to face Louisville with the deck stacked against them. The Commodores were able to force a final game, but the series ended with the Cards claiming the Super Regional berth.
The previous season, Vanderbilt lost to Oklahoma to kick off the tourney, and exited Tempe without even facing host Arizona State.
This year, the path to the Cardinals won't exist until other business is taken care of.
"As far as I'm concerned it's an Illinois State regional. That's really how you have to look at it," head coach Tim Corbin said. "It doesn't become the regional of the team until you play them. Right now we're going to play a team, like every one of the 64, that feels good about themselves."