April 23, 2010
Another exciting weekend is on the horizon.
Some teams will increase their stock on the national stage this weekend. Others, though, won't be so fortunate.
We take an inside look at the top ten series to watch. Predictions are included.
No. 25 Virginia Tech at No. 6 Georgia Tech
The Hokies suffered a slight blow last weekend with a series loss to in-state rival Virginia. But they hope to bounce back against a very solid Georgia Tech club this weekend. The Yellow Jackets put together a complete weekend against Clemson last week. Ace pitcher Deck McGuire, had his second straight poor start against the Tigers. If McGuire is back on track this weekend, it will be difficult for the Hokies to win this series.
Prediction: Georgia Tech wins two of three
No. 7 LSU at No. 20 Mississippi
It really doesn't get much better than the Friday night matchup between LSU's Anthony Ranaudo and Ole Miss' Drew Pomeranz. Scouts will be aplenty in Oxford, Miss, and plenty of professional baseball officials probably will be watching on television, too. The winner of the Friday contest certainly will have the upper hand the rest of the weekend, but the Rebels must put together a complete weekend from a pitching standpoint. LSU is a better overall team, but Ole Miss knows how important this home series is this weekend.
Prediction: Ole Miss wins two of three
No. 4 Arkansas at No. 8 Florida
The Hogs will be put to the test this weekend after two easy weekends against SEC bottom feeders Mississippi State and Georgia. The Hogs swept both of those series, but the Gators aren't anywhere close to the two Bulldogs. Still, Arkansas has won 12 straight games and couldn't be playing a better brand of baseball. Florida, meanwhile, has been stretched to the limit lately because of key injuries. UF taking this series would a plus with its injury situation, but we're giving the edge to Arkansas.
Prediction: Arkansas wins two of three
No. 5 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona
This is a very important series for the Bruins. After losing three of their last four games, the Bruins must show they can bounce back from a small losing streak such as the one they currently are on. That will be difficult to accomplish against the Wildcats, who are playing a great brand of baseball and knock the cover off the baseball with Steve Selsky and Jett Bandy leading the charge. UCLA starting pitchers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer must be infinitely better than they were last weekend. Arizona, though, still wins the series at home.
Prediction: Arizona wins two of three
No. 14 Miami (Fla.) at No. 10 Florida State
The Hurricanes have quietly put together a fantastic postseason resume so far this season. The one thing the 'Canes lack, though, is a huge road series win over a premier opponent. That could end this weekend against rival Florida State. The 'Canes have done some really nice things on the mound this season, but the offense has left a little something to be desired at times. UM must rise to the occasion at the plate. FSU, meanwhile, must pitch at a high level throughout the weekend.
Prediction: Florida State wins two of three
East Carolina at Rice
I remember when we had this tabbed as one of the top series for the entire season just a couple of months ago. Now it isn't in the top five for the weekend, but it is an important weekend in terms of Conference USA pecking order. The Pirates finally showed signs of consistency against UAB last weekend. Rice, though, followed up a series win over UCF by struggling at Texas A&M. Call it a hunch, but the Pirates will hit the road this weekend and pull off a mild surprise and series win over the Owls.
Prediction: East Carolina wins two of three
No. 17 California vs. Stanford
The Golden Bears have been one of the pleasant surprises with a nice balance of offense and pitching so far this season. But Stanford has been an incredibly difficult team to figure out. The Cardinal was struggling just a couple of weekends ago. However, they put on a nice display against Oregon State last weekend. Stanford doesn't have a great offensive lineup, but as it showed against OSU, it can hit when it needs to. Still, California has been a huge surprise and it should earn another nice series win this weekend.
Prediction: California wins two of three
Rutgers at No. 22 Connecticut
Louisville is in the mix for a national seed, so naturally you are led to believe the Cardinals are easily the favorite in the Big East. Not exactly. The series of the weekend in the Big East is in Storrs, Conn., where Rutgers (10-2 in Big East) and Connecticut (10-2 in Big East) do battle. The Scarlet Knights and Huskies hit at similar clips, .310 and .313, respectively. The Huskies, though, have a huge advantage on the mound with a 3.61 ERA as compared to a 6.06 ERA for the Knights. UConn wins this series at home.
Prediction: Connecticut wins two of three
No. 13 Coastal Carolina at VMI
The Keydets have a chance for redemption this weekend. They hit the road last weekend with hopes of earning a nice road series win over Liberty. Instead, the Keydets headed home with three losses and now have lost four-straight games after losing a midweek affair against Virginia Commonwealth earlier this week. The Keydets still have a respectable RPI of 68, but taking care of the Chanticleers -- even at home -- will be difficult this weekend. Coastal is riding a 14 game winning streak entering the weekend.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina wins two of three
Texas Tech at Kansas
Yes, this isn't a typo. The scrap between the Red Raiders and Jayhawks really is an important series on the national stage this weekend. The Red Raiders finally are above .500 and have a solid RPI. As of today, they would be in the NCAA postseason. Kansas, meanwhile, has a losing conference record and needs to record more solid wins to be sure of an NCAA regional bid. Neither team is close to cementing an at-large bid, but the winner of this series would be in much better shape.
Prediction: Kansas wins two of three