The Sooners and Cowboys are back in the NCAA Tournament.
*Oklahoma, for the sixth straight year, as a No. 2 seed in Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech is the host and No. 1 seed. The Sooners will open against Coastal Carolina at noon Friday.
*Oklahoma State, after a one-year absence, as a No. 3 seed in Louisville, where the Cardinals are the No. 1 seed. The Cowboys face Miami (Fla.) in their opener at 1 p.m. Friday.
The Cowboys and Sooners were two of three Big 12 schools, along with Kansas State, securing spots in the 64-team field, which was announced Monday.
OU surges into the postseason on a five-game winning streak that spanned the Big 12 Tournament and resulted in its first conference title since 1997. The Sooners had struggled previously, losing nine of their previous 12 before the league tournament, but over four days showed the stuff that had them atop the Big 12 standings for much of the regular season before that late-season fade.
“These last three weeks it's been tough on us, hitting and pitching, all together,” said OU first baseman Matt Oberste. “To come in (to the Big 12 Tournament) and win four games with no losses and head to the NCAA Tournament, it's going to be big for us. It's a big motivation for us.”
For OSU, it was the same story, in reverse.
The Cowboys carried momentum into Bricktown, winning their last four league series to finish second in the Big 12 standings. Then they lost all three pool-play games in the tournament, surrendering leads in each of the losses.
That can be forgotten now, with new life.
“It's a great feeling, a dream come true,” said OSU senior third baseman Robbie Rea. “It's my first time and it's great to go out as a senior and to make the postseason. Hopefully, it doesn't end (in Louisville).”
The Sooners (40-19) get a Coastal Carolina (37-21) team that won a division title in the Big South, but was ousted in its conference tournament by Liberty. The Chanticleers have made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and posted 12 seasons of 40-plus wins in the past 14 years.
Host Virginia Tech (38-20) did not receive one of the eight national seeds. The Hokies face No. 4-seed Connecticut (34-26) in their opener. The winner of the regional is matched with the Baton Rouge Regional, where host LSU is the No. 4 national seed.
OSU (39-17) heads to Louisville, where the Cowboys appeared in a Super Regional in 2007, losing to the Cardinals. The Cowboys will play a Miami (36-23) team that finished fifth in the ACC Coastal Division. In the regional's other opening game, Louisville (46-12) faces Bowling Green (24-29).
The Louisville Regional is matched with the Nashville Regional, where Vanderbilt is the No. 2 national seed. Should the Cowboys advance to play the Commodores, it would be a homecoming of a different sort for OSU coach Josh Holliday, who served as an assistant at Vandy before coming back to the Cowboys where he played and was an assistant.
“You're always curious how the bracket lays out, who's in your regional and where you're paired up,” Holliday said. “The natural thing as a competitor is to look and see where you fit in the whole grand scheme of things.
“But it's Miami first off and then you've got Bowling Green and Louisville. You've got to navigate your way through that. And if you're fortunate to do that, you take on whatever challenge that lies ahead.