COLUMBIA -- South Carolina's baseball team now knows it will likely have to leave the friendly home feel of Carolina Stadium if it wants to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2004.
The Gamecocks, however, will not have to leave the state's borders.
USC (43-15) just missed out on the NCAA tournament's final national seed -- which would have put the Gamecocks in position to host a super regional, should they advance through this weekend's regional round.
But USC was paired with No. 4 overall seed Coastal Carolina, meaning the Gamecocks and Chanticleers would tangle in a highly anticipated matchup if both can safely skate through the opening weekend.
"I think it could be good, sure," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said of sticking at least close to home, "but I'm just thinking about Bucknell right now."
That's who is up first for the Gamecocks, who are the No. 1 seed at Carolina Stadium along with No. 2 seed Virginia Tech, No. 3 seed The Citadel and No. 4 seed Bucknell.
The Hokies (38-20) and Bulldogs (42-20) will meet in the opener Friday at 2 p.m. The Bison (25-33) and USC play at 7 p.m.
The Citadel has said it's holding ace Asher Wojciechowski for a possible matchup with USC. USC is probably keeping its ace, senior Blake Cooper, for a Saturday game against the Virginia Tech-Citadel winner.
Junior right-hander Sam Dyson will likely start Friday night for the Gamecocks, although Tanner said that's subject to change -- depending on conversations with pitching coach Mark Calvi.
It was all but a lock that an ACC school would be the 2 seed in Columbia, but the question was which one.
North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech figured to be the likeliest of candidates -- so much that Tanner informally scouted them on TV over the weekend -- but Clemson was also a remote possibility.
The Tigers, though, were sent to Auburn, leaving the Hokies for the Gamecocks' first regional at their 2-year-old, $35 million ballpark.
Virginia Tech was swept the final weekend of the regular season at North Carolina, but the Hokies bounced back to beat Clemson and Georgia Tech in the ACC tourney before falling Saturday to N.C. State.
Junior left-hander Justin Wright struck out 15 in the complete-game shutout of the Jackets, who grabbed the tournament's No. 8 overall seed over USC.
The Citadel would have preferred to escape having to play in Columbia, but the SoCon tourney champion Bulldogs -- winners of their past 12 games -- will have to deal.
The Bulldogs were able to take both games from South Carolina last season, but they weren't all that close to the Gamecocks this year, dropping a 10-4 decision in Charleston and a 10-1 game in Columbia.
And don't just slap down a 'W' for the Gamecocks on Friday just yet. Bucknell, even if the Patriot League champ is under .500, has a recent history of postseason stunners -- namely, knocking off Florida State two years ago in a regional in Tallahassee.
Tanner noted the fact, too, that the Bison have a 20-homer man in first baseman Doug Shribman. Outfielder Andrew Brouse isn't far behind, with 17.
The Bison have fielded at a 97 percent success rate this year, too.
The Gamecocks have been home since Thursday, after they went 0-2 in the SEC tournament, scoring just one run in 21 innings of play.
That, surely, had to play a part in the committee going with Georgia Tech over the Gamecocks for the No. 8 overall seed.
The case could have been made, though, for USC. Records, RPI standing, conference strength were all relatively similar in the Jackets and Gamecocks' resumes.
Georgia Tech's slightly higher spot in the RPI likely gave the Jackets the nod, even though South Carolina had more wins against the RPI top 50.
Still, the Gamecocks -- for the first time since 2007 -- will begin the NCAA tourney at home. They're 27-6 this season at Carolina Stadium.
"The comforts of home, I think, are very important," Tanner said. "We've played very well here. There's no question I think our guys prefer being here over somewhere else. Hopefully that'll make a difference."