FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will begin the NCAA Tournament in Virginia.
The Razorbacks (38-23) were selected as the No. 2 seed in the Charlottesville (Va.) Regional, which is being hosted by No. 3 national seed Virginia. Arkansas will face No. 3 seed Liberty (41-16) in a first-round game Friday at 6 p.m., while the Cavaliers will open the regional against No. 4 seed Bucknell earlier in the day.
It will be the first meeting between Arkansas and Liberty, which earned an at-large spot in the field after winning the Big South’s regular season championship.
Arkansas, which was on the NCAA Tournament bubble a few weeks ago, earned its 13th straight NCAA Regional bid, by going 9-3 in its last 12 games. It included last week’s 3-2 performance at the SEC Tournament, reaching the semifinals.
“Obviously, we’re excited to be heading to a regional and get a chance to continue our season,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said after the field was announced Monday. “I know the team is excited, ready to go.
“As far as Liberty University, I’m very familiar with their head coach (Jim) Toman,” Van Horn said. “He was a long-time assistant for Ray Tanner at South Carolina. A very good coach. I followed them throughout the season, just checking scores, and just noticed they were winning a lot of ballgames. So it will be a very good matchup.”
Arkansas knew it would be traveling to play in a regional, but was hoping to be sent a little closer to home with Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Louisiana-Lafayette and Rice selected as hosts Sunday night. But the Razorbacks — who are traveling to an NCAA Regional for the fourth straight season — will have to move through a four-team field in Virginia that includes the nation’s No. 3 national seed.
The winner of the Charlottesville Regional will play the winner of the Columbia Regional, which is being hosted by South Carolina, in a best-of-three Super Regional.
“There’s going to be some tough teams in this regional,” Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson said. “But overall we’re confident and we’ve got some momentum going. We’re looking forward to Friday already.”