By ROBBIE NEISWANGER
Arkansas News Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE — If Arkansas plays its way into the 2011 College World Series it will have to win an NCAA regional on the road.
The Razorbacks were not among the 16 schools selected as regional hosts for the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Those sites were announced ahead of the 64-team field, which will be filled out this morning at 11:30 a.m.
Arkansas players and coaches, who traveled home from the SEC Tournament after a 3-2 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday morning, were not available for comment Sunday. The Razorbacks will gather to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show this morning to find out where their road to the CWS begins.
But missing out on the chance to host may have come as a surprise to Arkansas. The Razorbacks were hoping their resume was strong enough to give them an opportunity to host for the fifth time under coach Dave Van Horn.
The Razorbacks (38-20) won the SEC West despite finishing .500 (15-15) in conference play. Arkansas also entered the SEC Tournament No. 14 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index.
Van Horn said before the SEC Tournament his team needed wins in Hoover, Ala., to make a stronger case. The Razorbacks went 2-2.
"I thought that we got better during this tournament," Van Horn told the media in Hoover, Ala., after the 3-2 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday. "I think we gained a lot of confidence just the way we played."
But Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt were the SEC teams selected as regional hosts.
Others included: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and Cal State Fullerton.
UCLA, which was No. 42 in the RPI last week, was the biggest surprise. But the Bruins (33-22, 18-9 in Pac-10) were selected to host a regional after winning the Pac-10 title.
Arkansas’ destination will not be known until today, but locations that make the most sense geographically are in Texas (Texas A&M, TCU, Rice and Texas). However, Arkansas was sent out West to play in the Stanford Regional in 2008, so anything remains a possibility.
Traveling will be nothing new to veterans James McCann, Bo Bigham, Collin Kuhn and Tim Carver. The four were part of the 2009 team, which won a regional at Oklahoma and a super regional at Florida State to reach the CWS.
"We feel like we can compete with anybody in the country," Van Horn told the media at the SEC Tournament before his team found out it wasn’t hosting a regional. "If you can compete with people and teams in this league you’ve got a chance to win wherever they may send us or whoever they may send to us."