ATLANTA — Georgia Tech, champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, but being on the road is a rarity. The Yellow Jackets, who earned their 26th NCAA berth in the last 28 years, are the No. 2 seed in the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional and will face No. 3-seed College of Charleston on Friday.
The 2012 NCAA Tournament pairings were announced Monday, less than 24 hours after Tech beat Miami, 8-5, to complete one of the most improbable ACC Championship runs in the tournament’s 39-year history.
Florida is nation’s overall No. 1 seed, and battles No. 4-seed Bethune-Cookman on Friday as well. The winner of the four-team, double-elimination regional faces the Raleigh Regional winner in Super Regional play, June 8-11.
“We’re in the regional that has the No. 1-seed in the country so obviously a tough draw,” said coach Danny Hall, who has guided Tech to the NCAA Tournament in 17 of his 19 years on the Flats. “College of Charleston is a Southern Conference team that we played here in the Super Regional in 2006 and they’ve had a great program over the last couple of years.”
Since 1985, only two other teams in the nation have been to more NCAA Tournaments than Tech — Miami and Florida State, with 28 appearances each.
The Jackets, who improved to 36-24 overall after going 4-0 in five days in Greensboro, earned the final spot in the ACC tournament on the last day of the regular season. Tech then became the first No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in ACC Tournament history (5-4 win over Florida State), then posted the most lopsided win by an eighth seed in tournament history (17-5 win over Virginia), then became just third No. 8 seed to reach the title game (5-1 win over Clemson), and capped the weekend by becoming the first No. 8 seed to win it all (8-5 win over Miami).
The Jackets are 2-0 all-time versus the College of Charleston in NCAA Tournament action, beating the Cougars twice in the 2006 Super Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium en route to the most recent of Tech’s four trips to the College World Series.
Tech, though, is away from Russ Chandler Stadium in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, and just the fourth time in the last 13 years. In fact, the Jackets have not left the state of Georgia for an NCAA Tournament game since 1998 (going 3-2 at the Midwest Regional in Wichita, Kan.). With the exception of playing at the College World Series in Omaha, each of Tech’s last 47 NCAA games has been played in Atlanta or at the University of Georgia.
The Jackets are 3-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games in Gainesville, Fla., going 1-2 in the 1989 East Regional, and going 2-2 at the 1992 East Regional.
Tech is one of seven Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the 2012 field, including two of the of the top six national seeds. Atlantic Division champion Florida State earned the No. 3 overall seed, while Coastal Division champion North Carolina is seeded sixth nationally. FSU (43-15), Miami (36-21), UNC (44-14), NC State (39-17) and Virginia (38-17-1) were named as Regional host schools, giving the ACC a national-best five Regional hosts.
Each of those teams will be seeded No. 1 in their brackets, while Tech (36-24) earned an automatic NCAA berth by virtue of winning the ACC Championship. Only the Southeastern Conference, with eight teams in the field, had more than the ACC.