Image credit: TCU's Russell Smith (Photo by Lance Carter)
On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, presented by Rapsodo, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy preview week 12 around the country.
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First, they start the show on a tangent about the weirdness in the Mountain West Conference before discussing some of the candidates for national player of the year honors, including Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, Florida State catcher Mat Nelson and Louisville catcher Henry Davis.
From there, they jump into series previews, and because it’s such a jam-packed week, they preview six series instead of the usual five. They are:
- Texas visiting Texas Christian in the series of the year in the Big 12. With a series win, the Horned Frogs can clinch the Big 12 regular-season title and all but lock up one of the top eight national seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Texas will look to get a series win to get back into the Big 12 race, and to do so, it will have to get better starting pitching than what it got last weekend against Texas Tech.
- Stanford hosting Arizona. Normally, you would feel better about Stanford’s chances to compete with Arizona given that the series is taking place away from Tucson. That might still be true to some degree, but this is also a Stanford team that is better in the lineup than it is on the mound, so it might be inclined to want an offensive series anyway. The Cardinal have been flying under the radar this season, but that will change if they can pull off an upset series win this weekend.
- Florida State hitting the road to take on No. 2 Notre Dame. This is a big opportunity for the Seminoles. There is a dearth of good ACC hosting options after Notre Dame, and a win in this series on the road would go a long way toward putting them on that path. With that said, it feels like a good matchup for the Irish, as this is not a vintage FSU offense that would be able to take advantage of any perceived depth issues for Notre Dame on the mound.
- UC Santa Barbara hosting UC Irvine in a battle between the two teams atop the Big West standings. UCSB, which hasn’t been fully healthy really all season, has stayed afloat but hasn’t been quite as dominant as expected this season. Meanwhile, UCI has exceeded expectations and can really beat teams in a variety of ways. If this comes down to a battle of the bullpens, that could give an edge to the Anteaters, who have been more solid in that regard.
- Ball State visiting Central Michigan and playing for the top spot in the MAC. This has played out as the ideal scenario for the MAC once the league decided to do away with its conference tournament. These are clearly the two best teams in the league, they are separated by one game in the standings (with CMU leading) and they’re going to get to settle it on the field. Also, don’t look now, but even if Ball State doesn’t win the automatic bid by virtue of topping the standings, it has a compelling at-large case centered around a four-game split with Arizona and a series win over Kentucky.