April 16, 2010
Follow Kendall Rogers on Twitter at @ysportsncaabb.
The rivalry between Virginia Tech and Virginia has been well documented in other sports such as football and basketball, but now it has much meaning on the baseball diamond.
Virginia Tech hadn't been ranked since 1992 before this week. But with a series win over Miami last weekend, the Hokies are ranked entering the weekend. Virginia, meanwhile, is ranked No. 2 after taking care of Georgia Tech at home last weekend.
Tech took the series from the Cavaliers last season. Virginia, though, hopes to return the favor this weekend against the much-improved Hokies.
Though the series between the Hokies and Cavaliers has much intrigue on the national stage and especially in the ACC region, there are plenty of other series to watch.
Texas and Texas A&M meet in the annual Lone Star Showdown, Clemson hopes to earn a huge road series win over Georgia Tech and South Carolina hopes to protect its home field against a Mississippi club that hasn't played its best baseball the past two weeks.
We unveil the top ten series to watch this weekend. Our analysis includes predictions.
No. 24 Virginia Tech at No. 2 Virginia
The Hokies made big statements the past two weekends with series wins over Miami and Florida, but things get really serious this weekend with a huge series against in-state rival Virginia. The Hokies surprised the Cavaliers in Blacksburg, Va., last season. But taking care of their rivals on the road this season is a much tougher challenge. Both teams hit at a very high clip, and both pitching staffs also have done a nice job. In a series between two clubs playing a high level of baseball, look for the home team to earn a series win.
Prediction: Virginia wins two of three
Texas A&M at No. 4 Texas
The Aggies and Longhorns are playing much earlier than normal this season. Perhaps that will help the Aggies turn the tide against the Longhorns, which have an 11-1 record in the regular season against A&M coach Rob Childress. The Longhorns have the better arms with Taylor Jungmann, Cole Green, Brandon Workman and Chance Ruffin leading the way. However, the Aggies also have a very solid pitching staff with John Stilson, Michael Wacha and Barret Loux leading the charge. This series will be low scoring and the team with the more opportunistic offensive lineup wins the series.
Prediction: Texas wins two of three
Oregon at No. 1 UCLA
The Ducks have made major strides this season, but their biggest test of the season is this weekend against the Bruins. The Ducks have pitched at an extremely high level, but their offense must rise to the occasion against the Bruins. UCLA is hitting well over .300, while the Ducks are hitting just .276 so far this season. The series boils down to Oregon's ability to stay with the Bruins from an offensive standpoint. If it accomplished that goal, this series definitely could go either way. UCLA, though, should take care of business.
Prediction: UCLA wins two of three
No. 14 Clemson at No. 7 Georgia Tech
This is a huge series for both teams. Clemson is coming off a tough road series loss to Duke, while Georgia Tech is coming off a tough road series loss to Virginia. The Tigers already have recorded some marquee series wins so far this season. Tech, though, is in a different situation despite being fantastic most of the season. The Yellow Jackets could use a home series win over the Tigers this weekend. Clemson's pitching staff didn't fare well against Duke last weekend, so the unit obviously must rise to the occasion against an excellent Tech offensive lineup. The Jackets will win the series.
Prediction: Georgia Tech wins two of three
Alabama at No. 8 LSU
The Crimson Tide has struggled at times this season, losing two of their last three SEC series. But things get as serious as ever this weekend when they hit the road to face an LSU club coming off a tough road series loss to Auburn. The Crimson Tide desperately needs sluggers Jake Smith and Ross Wilson to rise to the occasion to win the series. LSU, meanwhile, left something to be desired on the mound against Auburn and must return to normal on the mound this weekend. LSU will take care of business this weekend.
Prediction: LSU wins two of three
No. 15 Mississippi at No. 9 South Carolina
The Rebels seemed to take a huge step forward with a home series win over Florida three weekends ago. But since that series, the Rebels have failed to impress, losing two of three at home to Tennessee and having some issues winning two of three at Georgia. South Carolina, meanwhile, has played a fabulous brand of baseball in SEC play and hopes to continue its consistent ways at home this weekend. The Gamecocks have the better overall pitching staff and a slightly better offense. They should win the series.
Prediction: South Carolina wins two of three
Baylor at No. 25 Kansas State
Before the season began, there were few observers that thought the series between the Bears and Wildcats would have implications in the Big 12 race. Well, it will. The Bears have played a solid brand of baseball the past couple of weeks and are coming off a series win over in-state rival Texas A&M, Kansas State, meanwhile, has dropped five of its last eight games, including a pair of midweek games to BYU. The Bears pitched and hit well against the Aggies. K-State, meanwhile, has been balanced much of the season. BU will play well this weekend, but K-State will earn another big home series win.
Prediction: Kansas State wins two of three
Auburn at Vanderbilt
This series couldn't be bigger for the Commodores. Vandy has had excellent pitching the entire season, but its offense has struggled against solid pitchers. Vandy has lost its last two SEC series against South Carolina and Florida. It can't afford to earn another series loss. Auburn, meanwhile, hopes to build off a fantastic home series win over LSU last weekend. The Tigers have the better offensive lineup with Trent Mummey, Hunter Morris and Brian Fletcher leading the way. Vandy, meanwhile, has the better arms with ace pitcher Sonny Gray leading the charge. Look for VU to get a huge series win.
Prediction: Vanderbilt wins two of three
North Carolina at No. 17 Miami (Fla.)
The Tar Heels haven't played a good brand of baseball this season, but perhaps they're on their way to recovery after winning the last two series against rival N.C. State and Maryland. UNC will be put to the test again this weekend when it hits the road to face a motivated Miami club. The Hurricanes still are disappointed with a road series loss to Virginia Tech last weekend. The Hurricanes, which have the edge on the mound, hope to take care of business at home. The Tar Heels, outside of ace pitcher Matt Harvey, must pitch well throughout the weekend to win the series.
Prediction: Miami wins two of three
Stanford at No. 18 Oregon State
The weekend series against the Beavers couldn't be much bigger for the Cardinal. Stanford has lost its last two Pac-10 series against Oregon and UCLA, and desperately needs an impressive series win with a 3-7 record in their last ten games. Oregon State, meanwhile, hopes to rebound from a tough home series loss to UCLA last weekend. The Beavers definitely have the edge on the mound, but both teams leave something to be desired. OSU has the better pitching and will win a crucial series for both teams.
Prediction: Oregon State wins two of three