Often overlooked among conferences known for strong baseball programs, the Sun Belt Conference lately has made a name for itself.

The conference has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1988 and boasts at least one series win in 17 of those 18 years (1992 was the only year without a postseason series victory).

The conference has had a top 10 RPI in five of the past six seasons, and last year the Sun Belt was ranked seventh out of the 31 NCAA conferences, just behind Conference USA.

"We've had as many as five teams from our conference go to the tournament," UNO Coach Tom Walter said. "Multiple teams have gotten to the College World Series, and now with the addition of Florida Atlantic, it's gotten even stronger."

Louisiana-Lafayette was the last team from the Sun Belt to reach the College World Series, finishing third in 2000.

With nine of its 11 baseball teams in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana, the Sun Belt presents a favorable climate for early-season baseball.

"The weather helps early in the year because you can schedule games at home," Walter said. "When I was at GW (George Washington), we had to schedule our first 12 games on the road, as opposed to the South, where we can play more home games."

The rest of the story

Michael Arvites