April 09, 2010
How many times has Virginia been involved in an important series?
It seems like it is almost every week so far this season.
That trend won't change this weekend, either.
After dropping two of three games at N.C. State last weekend, the Cavaliers return home this weekend to face a Georgia Tech team aiming for a marquee series win.
The huge series between the Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers isn't the only series to watch this weekend.
No. 2 UCLA hits the road to face No. 16 Oregon State, No. 14 Miami (Fla.) hits the road to face suddenly rising Virginia Tech, No. 12 South Carolina is at No. 24 Vanderbilt and Rice and Tulane fight this weekend for the upper hand in the Conference USA race.
There are plenty of other series to watch, too.
We take a quick look at ten series to watch. Predictions are included.
No. 4 Georgia Tech at No. 3 Virginia
The Cavaliers are back home this weekend. They also aren't real happy after dropping a tough road series at N.C. State last weekend. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has been waiting the entire season to make a statement like this. Both Tech and Virginia have productive offenses, so the weekend series comes down to the two pitching staffs. The Friday pitching matchup between Tech's Deck McGuire and Virginia's Danny Hultzen seems to be a tossup. The Cavaliers have the edge on Saturday and Sunday's game also appears to be a tossup. At home, though, Virginia will get the job done.
Prediction: Virginia wins two of three
No. 1 Arizona State at Washington State
After spending several weekends at home to start the season, the Sun Devils enter their second straight road series in the Pac-10. The Devils hit the road last weekend and took two of three from a very scrappy Oregon club. This weekend, though, the Devils face Washington State, which is need of an impressive series win. The Cougars are hitting just .300 this season and have a respectable pitching staff. Arizona State has a distinct advantage across the board, but almost dropped a series at Oregon last weekend. ASU once again will lose a game this weekend, but will win the actual series.
Prediction: Arizona State wins two of three
No. 2 UCLA at No. 16 Oregon State
This series is an important measuring stick for both clubs. The Bruins are having a fantastic season, but this is their first true road series. It will be interesting to see how the Bruins fare in their first hostile environment. Oregon State, meanwhile, is looking for its first marquee series win of the season. UCLA has a distinct advantage at the plate with Oregon State hitting just .271 this season. The Beavers, though, have at least shown some signs of being a good offensive club at times. The series, though, comes down to OSU's excellent pitching staff against UCLA's offense. OSU's pitching staff must have a great weekend for the Beavers to have a chance. UCLA wins the series in close fashion.
Prediction: UCLA wins two of three
Kansas at No. 5 Texas
The giant killers hit the road this weekend to face the red-hot Longhorns. Kansas made noise on the national stage earlier this season when it went on the road and took two of three from LSU at Alex Box Stadium. Now the Jayhawks hope to send another shockwave with a road series win over Texas this weekend. The Jayhawks have a solid offensive lineup with Brian Heere and Tony Thompson as the headliners. But their pitching staff must rise to the occasion this weekend. KU's starting pitchers have ERA's of 4.62, 5.83 and 6.23, respectively. Those numbers won't cut it against Texas. UT will win the series, but it will be close.
Prediction: Texas wins two of three
No. 14 Miami (Fla.) at Virginia Tech
The Hokies narrowly made this week's NCAA projections with a road series win over Florida State last weekend. The Hokies could make another huge statement this weekend with a home series win over red-hot Miami. The Hurricanes have just a .302 batting average this season, but the pitching staff has done a fantastic job and has a solid 3.54 ERA with Chris Hernandez and Eric Erickson leading the charge. The 'Canes have the better team on paper and should win the series. Tech, however, shouldn't have won the road series against the Seminoles last weekend. Tech will give the 'Canes their biggest scare this season, but look for UM to head home with a series victory.
Prediction: Miami wins two of three
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 24 Vanderbilt
Easily the most underrated series of the weekend, the three-game set between the Gamecocks and Commodores should be fantastic. South Carolina and Vanderbilt each have done a nice job on the mound this season with both clubs possessing staff ERA's below four. The series, though, comes down to which team has more production at the plate. In that case, the edge at home definitely goes to Vanderbilt, which enters the series with a fantastic .340 batting average. This series will come down to the series finale, but Vandy will earn an important home series win.
Prediction: Vanderbilt wins two of three
Cal State Fullerton at No. 18 UC Irvine
The series between the Titans and Anteaters ought to be fantastic. Both teams need an impressive series win, and the Titans hope to avenge last season's home series loss to the Anteaters. Fullerton definitely has played the better brand of baseball the past couple of weeks, so it will be interesting to see if the same team shows up against Irvine. The Titans, on paper, have the better offensive lineup and deeper pitching staff. But in a rivalry series such as this one, who knows what will happen. We do believe, though, that Fullerton ends the weekend with a series win.
Prediction: Cal State Fullerton wins two of three
Rice at Tulane
You could probably show with two hands the number of people that thought this series would feature a pair of unranked teams. Most people, of course, figured the Owls would be ranked at this point in the season. Well, they're not. The Owls haven't played consistent baseball this season, but have shown some signs of breaking out of their funk in the past week. That must happen this weekend against Tulane, which enters the weekend with much motivation. The Green Wave has had the superior offensive lineup so far this season and is at home this weekend. That means a series win for Rick Jones' club.
Prediction: Tulane wins two of three
Oregon at Stanford
It is incredibly difficult to get a solid read on the two clubs. Oregon has a very solid pitching staff, but certainly leaves something to be desired at the plate. Stanford, meanwhile, will look good one day and bad the next. So, this series will come down to which team is more consistent throughout the weekend. With Stanford sitting at 13-11 on the season, it can't afford to drop a series against the Ducks this weekend. The Cardinal has too tough of a remaining schedule to drop too many more games at home. Stanford knows what is at stake and will take care of business at home.
Prediction: Stanford wins two of three
No. 7 LSU at Auburn
This is a huge series for Auburn. After dropping series to South Carolina and Alabama in back-to-back weekends, the Tigers really need to earn a marquee series win. A series win over the Tigers this weekend would accomplish that goal. The LSU Tigers certainly have the edge on the mound with Anthony Ranaudo, Chris Matullis and closer Matty Ott leading the way. However, the Tigers clearly have the edge at the plate with a .349 batting average entering the weekend. The Tigers must get into the LSU bullpen early and often to win the series. LSU, though, will squeak out a series win in a fantastic three-game set at Plainsman Park.
Prediction: LSU wins two of three