May 20, 2010
Championships are won in May and June.
At least that is the case in the SEC this weekend.
Florida and South Carolina have put together magical regular season campaigns, but only one team will finish the weekend as the conference regular season champion.
The Gators are coming off a series sweep over Georgia, while the Gamecocks are coming off a huge road series sweep over Arkansas.
Elsewhere around the country, the series between Georgia Tech and Boston College has national seed implications for the Yellow Jackets. The same also can be said for Florida State, who has a road series against Clemson.
On a lighter note, Vanderbilt and Arkansas are fighting for a regional host this weekend, as are Auburn and Mississippi.
We take an inside look at ten series to watch this weekend.
No. 2 Virginia at No. 15 Miami (Fla.)
The Cavaliers have nailed down a national seed. This series is important but the Cavaliers don't have to worry about losing their national seed. Miami, meanwhile, has an outside shot of earning a national seed. It also seems to be in good shape for an NCAA regional host. Therefore, the series this weekend is more about Miami boosting its resume than anything else. Virginia has the edge at the plate and on the mound. UM, though, will be tough to beat at home. If there's a team that can do it, though, it's the Cavaliers.
Prediction: Virginia wins two of three
Oregon State at No. 3 Arizona State
The Beavers narrowly made our NCAA Field of 64 earlier today, but they likely would fall back out of the field with a series loss to the Sun Devils this weekend. Tough chore, right? The Beavers have hit the baseball a bit better in their latest streak, winning five of their last six Pac-10 games. However, the unit still enters the ASU series with a dismal .265 batting average. Arizona State, meanwhile, has done a fantastic job at the plate and on the mound the entire season. OSU will steal a game this weekend, but ASU will record yet another conference series win.
Prediction: Arizona State wins two of three
No. 4 Florida at No. 6 South Carolina
These two teams couldn't be more similar. Neither team has an incredibly explosive offensive lineup, but both teams do just enough offensively to get the job done. The two pitching staffs, though, have risen to the occasion in a big way this season. The series boils down to the two pitching staffs. South Carolina can win the series if weekend starters Blake Coopers and Sam Dyson emulate their performances against Arkansas last weekend. Florida, though, is playing slightly better baseball. The Gators will win the SEC regular season title this weekend.
Prediction: Florida wins two of three
No. 13 Georgia Tech at Boston College
The Yellow Jackets are back in the national seed mix after taking care of business against Miami last weekend. Now the Jackets hope to put themselves in great shape this weekend with a road series win over Boston College. The Jackets definitely have a substantial advantage on paper. They enter the series with a solid 3.75 ERA. BC, though, enters the weekend with a dismal 6.48 ERA. The Jackets also have an infinitely better offense than the Eagles. BC can grab a win this weekend but look for the Jackets to take care of business.
Prediction: Georgia Tech wins two of three
No. 5 Florida State at Clemson
The Seminoles, as with the Yellow Jackets, are still in the mix for a national seed. However, they can't afford to drop a road series to Clemson this weekend. Florida State has had some issues on the mound the past few weeks, so the staff, particularly weekend starter Sean Gilmartin, must rise to the occasion. The Seminoles are catching the Tigers at the right time and should win the series. Look for FSU to take care of business on the road with its offense leading the charge.
Prediction: Florida State wins two of three
No. 7 UCLA at California
Remember when the Bruins dropped all three games to Arizona State a few weeks ago. It's not surprising to us if you simply just forgot. After all, the Bruins are playing an excellent brand of baseball and are coming off two-straight series sweeps over Washington and USC. The Bruins have the clear advantage on the mound against the Golden Bears, while Cal and UCLA both hit the ball at a solid clip. Cal will give the Bruins all they can handle, but Cole, Bauer, Rasmussen and Inc., on the mound will be too much to handle.
Prediction: UCLA wins two of three
No. 14 Arkansas at No. 21 Vanderbilt
The Commodores might be one of the more underrated teams in the country. Vandy really has displayed a lot of balance this season, but have flown under the radar because of teams such as South Carolina and Florida. Vandy, though, could put itself in fantastic shape to earn a home regional host with a series win over sputtering Arkansas this weekend. The 'Dores have a slight edge both offensively and on the mound entering the weekend series against the Razorbacks. Look for Vandy to earn a nice series win this weekend.
Prediction: Vanderbilt wins two of three
No. 12 Virginia Tech at North Carolina
The season basically comes down to this weekend for the Tar Heels. Well, sort of. The Tar Heels still can miss the ACC tournament with a series win over the Hokies. UNC, though, is approaching the weekend series as if it is the season. The Tar Heels are in good shape in the series opener with Matt Harvey on the mound, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the series progresses. North Carolina will earn a solid series win to end the regular season, but will miss the NCAA postseason.
Prediction: North Carolina wins two of three
No. 18 Auburn at No. 16 Mississippi
Auburn coach John Pawlowski has done a fantastic job this season and could be the frontrunner for SEC Coach of the Year honors. The Tigers have hit the ball at an incredibly high clip the entire season, but their pitching staff has left something to be desired at times, too. The Tigers hit the road this weekend to face an Ole Miss club that desperately needs a series win after dropping two-straight three-game sets to Arkansas and Alabama. Ole Miss should be able to pitch past Auburn. A series win for AU would put it in great shape for a regional host, though.
Prediction: Mississippi wins two of three
No. 17 Oklahoma at Kansas
Even though it dropped last weekend's crucial series to Kansas State, the Jayhawks are still in the postseason mix this week. That could continue or end this weekend against Oklahoma. To say the least the Jayhawks have something to play for this weekend. The Sooners, meanwhile, hope to earn a regional host by notching one more road series win before next week's Big 12 tournament. Oklahoma has the edge both offensively and on the mound, but look for KU to really complicate the Big 12 postseason picture with a series win over OU this weekend.
Prediction: Kansas wins two of three