COLUMBIA - South Carolina coach Ray Tanner could do something this weekend he has never done before with the Gamecocks - face his alma mater.
The top-seeded Gamecocks (42-18) are playing host to an NCAA baseball tournament regional this weekend that includes North Carolina State, where he played, has a degree and coached for nine years before coming to Columbia. Also in the regional is South Carolina's opening opponent, No. 4 seed Wofford (30-31) and No. 3 seed Charlotte (47-10), who plays the second-seeded Wolfpack (37-21).
Clemson and Coastal Carolina also made the tournament and will be playing at a regional hosted by the Chanticleers in Myrtle Beach.
The Chanticleers open with No. 4 seed Virginia Commonwealth (37-21), while second-seeded Clemson (38-21) opens with St. John's (40-17).
But don't count on Tanner to be nostalgic. After the pairings were announced Monday, he pointed out he has coached at South Carolina longer than North Carolina State, where he was 395-173-3 in nine seasons ending in 1996.
"Certainly they are very deserving and have a great club, but it won't stir up any emotions with me," Tanner said.
Tanner's attention is first on Wofford. The Terriers made the NCAA Tournament by winning five games in a row and taking the Southern Conference tournament as the No. 9 seed.
"I'm not looking forward to playing them. They are on a roll," he said. "They are a great club, a tremendous offensive club."
If the seeds hold to form, South Carolina would play N.C. State for the first time since the 1992 NCAA baseball regional in Coral Gables, Fla., where the Gamecocks beat the Wolfpack, then coached by Tanner, 9-6.
The winner of the regional plays the winner of the North Carolina regional in a 2-of-3 series in the next round.