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2022 NCAA Tournament Coral Gables Regional Preview

Friday’s schedule

No. 1 Miami vs. No. 4 Canisius (10 a.m., ESPN+)

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 3 Mississippi (55 minutes after Game 1, ESPN+)

No. 1 Miami (39-18)

All-Conference honorees: OF Jacob Burke (second), 1B CJ Kayfus (second), 3B Yohandy Morales (second), SP Carson Palmquist (first), RP Andrew Walters (first)

Season in a sentence: Miami raced out to a sizzling start in ACC play but slowed down the stretch and lost three series in the second half to get clipped by Virginia Tech on the last day of the regular season for the title.

Best pitcher: Carson Palmquist, LHP. Palmquist this season moved from his role as closer to ace, handling the transition superbly. He is 9-4, 3.09 with 108 strikeouts in 78.2 innings. He gets a lot of swings and misses on his fastball, which sits around 90 mph, and he mixes in a good changeup. His 12.36 strikeouts per nine rank 26th nationally.

Best hitter: Yohandy Morales, 3B. Morales came into his own this season as a sophomore. He’s Miami’s most dangerous hitter and is batting .323/.402/.607 and leads the team both in doubles (17) and home runs (14). Morales can impact the game in several ways for the Hurricanes.

Outlook: Miami started the season so well but came back to earth in the second half. It still has all the pieces for a deep postseason run if it can recapture that early season form. Palmquist and Walters (0-0, 1.20, 13 SV) are about as good an ace-closer duo as you could ask for and the Hurricanes have several other strong options in the bullpen. To advance, however, they’ll need another starter to step up, whether that’s Jake Garland (6-2, 3.99), Karson Ligon (6-6, 4.50) or Alejandro Rosario (2-3, 7.57). When Miami was at its best, it had a premium rotation. Now, it needs that group to get back on track.

No. 2 Arizona (37-23)

All-Conference honorees: RP Quinn Flanagan, OF Tanner O’Tremba, C Daniel Susac

Season in a sentence: Arizona had an up-and-down season, mixing some real highs with some disappointing losses, but still reached the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed in coach Chip Hale’s first season.

Best pitcher: Garrett Irvin, LHP. Irvin has been the Wildcats’ most consistent pitcher for three seasons now, since transferring from junior college. He isn’t overpowering, but he simply understands what he needs to do to get outs. Irvin is 5-4, 3.22 with 62 strikeouts and 29 walks in 89.1 innings.

Best hitter: Daniel Susac, C. Susac has been the Wildcats’ catcher since he arrived on campus in the fall of 2020. He’s hitting .367/.432/.598 with 12 home runs and leads the team with 19 doubles. While he’s a standout hitter, he also earns praise for his defensive work behind the plate.

Outlook: No team is more Jekyll and Hyde than Arizona. The Wildcats this season won series against Stanford and Oregon State, the top two teams in the Pac-12 standings, and lost series to Southern California, Utah and Washington State, the bottom three teams in the conference standings. So, it’s really anyone’s guess what the Wildcats do this weekend. They’re talented enough to win the regional, but they’re mercurial enough to make a quick exit. If they are going to make a run, they’re going to need to find some answers on the mound beyond Irvin. They have several talented relievers like Flanagan (5-1, 1.72), but someone is going to have to step up as a starter to help push the Wildcats through.

No. 3 Mississippi (32-22)

All-Conference honorees: 1B Tim Elko (second), SS Jacob Gonzalez (first)

Season in a sentence: Ole Miss raced out to a 16-4 start and spent a week ranked No. 1 but fell into a deep midseason funk before getting back on track in May to secure an NCAA Tournament bid with a solid finish.

Best pitcher: Dylan Delucia, RHP. DeLucia has emerged as Ole Miss’ top pitcher down the stretch, delivering four quality starts in the second half. He’s 5-2, 4.57 with 67 strikeouts in 67 innings this season. If Ole Miss is to make something out of this weekend, DeLucia will likely be at the heart of it.

Best hitter: Tim Elko, 1B. Elko this year returned for his fifth season at Ole Miss and the captain continued to build on a sensational career. He is hitting .284/.393/.604 with 19 home runs. His 41 career home runs are second most in program history and he is just two home runs shy of the program’s single-season record.

Outlook: Ole Miss just went through an anxious week as it waited to learn its NCAA Tournament fate following a loss Tuesday in the SEC Tournament. How the Rebels come through that experience mentally could be the key to this weekend. Bubble teams that make it into regionals often ride that momentum boost to strong performances and this team is clearly talented enough to win a regional. To do so, Ole Miss will need to stick to its core on the mound and get some big games from its lineup. This is the same team that swept Louisiana State in Baton Rouge three weeks ago, so anything really is possible this weekend in Coral Gables.

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No. 4 Canisius (29-23)

All-Conference honorees: OF Mike DeStefano (first), SP Matt Duffy (first), 2B Max Grant (first)

Season in a sentence: Canisius swept through the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in a decade and the first time since 2018.

Best pitcher: Matt Duffy, RHP. Duffy, a sophomore, has been a workhorse at the front of the rotation for the Griffins. He is 8-2, 3.67 with 116 strikeouts in 98 innings. Last week at the MAAC Tournament, he held opponents to one run in 10.1 innings on six hits and two walks.

Best hitter: Max Grant, 2B. Grant was named MAAC player of the year after hitting .404/.492/.656 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases. He ranks 10th in the nation in batting and is on pace to have the second-best single-season batting average in program history.

Outlook: Canisius has not yet won a game in its three NCAA Tournament appearances. It faces a difficult draw this year as it looks for that milestone win. After Duffy, the Griffins will be leaning on relievers Brett Kochanski (1-1, 2.88) and Peyton Consigli (4-2, 3.15) to lead them on the mound this weekend. But it’ll be a challenge to try to slow down the powerful offenses they’re facing in Coral Gables.

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