2017 NCAA Tournament Fort Worth Regional Preview

Evan Skoug (Photo by Andrew Woolley)

SEE ALSO: NCAA Regional Preview Podcast

1. Texas Christian (42-16, 16-8 in Big 12)

15th appearance (fourth straight), at-large, second in Big 12

Top 200 Prospects: C Evan Skoug (76)

Season In A Sentence: Opening the year as the No. 1 team, the Horned Frogs just barely missed out on the Big 12 regular season title, tying first-place Texas Tech in the standings but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Player To Watch: Evan Skoug, c. With the powerful Luken Baker out for the postseason with an injury, the Horned Frogs will need everyone in their lineup to step up. Skoug, the team leader with 16 home runs and a .272/.375/.518 hitter overall, has rebounded from a tough start to the season to help lead TCU in the second half. He’ll need to keep it up to drive the offense.

Best Weekend: Shriners Hospitals College Classic, March 3-5. The then-No. 1 Horned Frogs asserted their dominance early in the season, sweeping the competition in Houston, which included wins against Louisiana State, Texas A&M and Mississippi.

Outlook: While TCU has been to Omaha three years in a row and brings back almost the entirety of its team from a year ago, the Horned Frogs will have to overcome the loss of Baker. Additionally, the Frogs have a tough draw in the form of No. 2 Virginia, a team that could’ve—and probably should’ve—hosted. TCU will have the edge of playing at home, but putting away the Cavaliers won’t be easy.

2. Virginia (41-14, 18-12 Atlantic Coast Conference)

17th appearance (14th straight), at-large, second in ACC Coastal

Top 200 Prospects: 1B Pavin Smith (7), OF Adam Haseley (13), SS/of Ernie Clement (92), RHP Tommy Doyle (146)

Season In A Sentence: Virginia won six of its last ACC series and finished No. 18 in the RPI, leaning on standout juniors Adam Haseley and Pavin Smith, but was a hosting snub.

Player To Watch: Adam Haseley, of/lhp. The junior two-way star has grown as a hitter this year, flashing more power than ever before with a team-high 14 home runs and a .399/.496/.676 line in 213 at-bats. Haseley is also Virginia’s most dependable and experienced starting pitcher and has plenty of big-game experience, having pitched in the College World Series in 2015 as a freshman.

Best Weekend: at Florida State, April 28-30. The Cavaliers took two out of three at Florida State, a team that had caught fire and eventually won the ACC tournament. The series was an RPI boost for Virginia and, at the time, seemed to have solidified its hosting chances.

Outlook: The Cavaliers are the most dangerous No. 2 seed in the country, as a team that had a hosting resume. While the Horned Frogs are the favorites and are playing in their home ballpark, Virginia should not be overlooked.

3. Dallas Baptist (40-19, 15-6 in Missouri Valley Conference)

Eighth appearance (fourth straight), automatic bid, won MVC tournament

Top 200 Prospects: None.

Season In A Sentence: After three straight regional appearances, the Patriots were on the verge of missing out before rallying to win the MVC tournament to get the conference’s automatic bid.

Player To Watch: Austin Listi, 1b. To say the senior had a good year would be an understatement. Listi crushed 20 home runs and batted .332/.453/.700 to fuel the Dallas Baptist offense. The Patriots boast a fairly deep lineup, and Listi supplies much of the juice.

Best Weekend: MVC tournament, May 24-28. With an RPI in the 60s, the Patriots would not have gotten into a regional without earning the conference’s automatic bid, and they did just that by winning the tournament for the second straight year, beating Illinois State, 10-6, in the title game.

Outlook: Thanks to their proximity, the Patriots play TCU often and have plenty of familiarity with the program. Dallas Baptist lost to the Horned Frogs twice this season, but held their own on the road against them in just a 3-2 loss. Dallas Baptist is very much a program on the rise. With that said, the Patriots will have an uphill battle against both TCU and Virginia.

4. Central Connecticut State (36-20, 21-7 in Northeast Conference)

Fifth Appearance (first since 2010), automatic bid, won NEC tournament

Top 200 Prospects: None.

Season In A Sentence: Vying for the NEC crown for most of the year with Bryant, the Blue Devils surged to the front of the pack by winning the NEC tournament.

Player To Watch: Ryan Costello, 3b. The junior is the team’s leading power threat and middle-of-the-order bat. He’s hit a team-leading nine homers and is batting .287/.415/.531.

Best Weekend: NEC tournament, May 26-28. The Blue Devils charged through the NEC tournament, beating Sacred Heart twice to earn the conference’s automatic bid. The Blue Devils would have missed the tournament otherwise.

Outlook: The Blue Devils have an exceptionally tough draw on the road against the No. 6 national seed and host-quality team in the Cavaliers.

STAT PACK (National rank in parentheses)
Team Avg. Runs P/G HR SB ERA K/9 WHIP Field %
1. TCU .272 (153) 6.79 (39) 51 (74) 95 (17) 4.16 (80) 9.3 (15) 1.26 (22) .975 (53)
2. Virginia .324 (5) 7.93 (9) 60 (41) 75 (45) 4.04 (66) 8.4 (61) 1.32 (42) .974 (66)
3. Dallas Baptist .304 (29) 7.47 (18) 84 (5) 42 (179) 4.51 (120) 8.2 (80) 1.46 (129) .967 (187)
4. Cent. Connecticut St. .281 (106) 5.89 (115) 23 (245) 50 (139) 4.23 (86) 5.8 (280) 1.45 (119) .974 (65)

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