The University of Kentucky baseball team will take the field at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Monday night against North Carolina State with a regional title on the line.
For the third time in five games in this Lexington Regional, the “host” Wildcats will play as the road team and watch the action unfold from the third-base dugout, which is traditionally reserved for visitors.
Instead of a simple-to-follow format where the better seed gets to be the home team in every regional game, the NCAA has a list of guidelines to determine which team will get the home honors — and therefore bat last — in regional games.
Kentucky came out on the short end of the stick for Monday night.
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Here’s the rundown of how home/away teams are determined for NCAA regionals:
The first round follows the logical format of making the better seed the home team, so UK and Indiana — the top two seeds in the Lexington Regional — got that honor Friday.
In subsequent games, the home team is determined according to a tiered formula. The first step in that formula says that the team that has been the home team the fewer number of times in the tournament shall be designated the home team for that particular game.
N.C. State has been the home team just once in three games in this tournament, the Wolfpack’s first game against UK on Saturday night. Kentucky has been the home team twice — against Ohio in the opener and Sunday night against N.C. State — so the home honors go to the Wolfpack on Monday night.
The next steps in the home/away formula would have been: 1) If the two teams are equal in their amount of home games but unequal in the number of times they were the visitor, then the team that has been the visitor more often is designated the home team; 2) If the two teams are equal in the number of times that they have been home and visitor and the two teams have met previously in the tournament, the visitor in the previous game is the home team for the game in question; 3) The team that was visitor in its preceding game is the home team, unless both teams were visitors in their preceding games.
If the above formula failed to resolve the matter, a coin toss would have been used (with the better seed getting to choose whether they want to call the coin toss or defer to the other team). This method was actually used to determine the home team in the UK-Indiana game Sunday afternoon, with the Hoosiers winning the toss.
All of this means that N.C. State (the 3 seed in the Lexington Regional) will ultimately be the home team in two of its three games against Kentucky, the 1 seed and host team.
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Monday, and the winner will play a best-of-three series at Louisville this weekend.