What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (3/19)

Image credit: Arkansas' Christian Franklin (Photo by John Bunch/Getty Images)

Top 25 Schedule

Rank Team Opponents (Fri., Sat., Sun.) TV
1 Arkansas (22) Alabama SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
2 Mississippi State at Louisiana State SEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat., Sun.)
3 Vanderbilt (12) South Carolina SEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
4 Mississippi Auburn SEC Network+
5 Miami Florida State ACC Network (Fri., Sat.), ACC Network Extra (Sun.)
6 Florida Texas A&M (Thurs.-Sat.) SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
7 Texas Tech (25) Oklahoma State ESPN+
8 Louisville at North Carolina State ACC Network+
9 East Carolina Illinois State ESPN+
10 Texas at Baylor ESPN+
11 Georgia Tech at Wake Forest ACC Network Extra
12 South Carolina at (3) Vanderbilt SEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
13 Virginia Tech at Clemson ACC Network Extra
14 North Carolina at (21) Boston College ACC Network (Fri.), ACC Network Extra (Sat., Sun.)
15 Notre Dame Duke ACC Network Extra (Fri., Sat.), ACC Network (Sun.)
16 Oregon Arizona State Pac-12 Plus
17 Arizona at (23) UCLA Pac-12 Plus
18 Tennessee at Georgia SEC Network+
19 Pittsburgh at Virginia ACC Network Extra
20 Michigan Illinois (Fri.-Sat.), Michigan State (Sun.-Mon.) Big Ten Network+
21 Boston College (14) North Carolina ACC Network (Fri.), ACC Network Extra (Sat., Sun.)
22 Alabama at (1) Arkansas SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
23 UCLA (17) Arizona Pac-12 Plus
24 Texas Christian at Louisiana-Lafayette ESPN+
25 Oklahoma State at (8) Texas Tech ESPN+

Series to watch

(22) Alabama at (1) Arkansas

Opening weekend of SEC play serves up an early test for both the Crimson Tide (14-3) and the Razorbacks (12-2). Traveling to Fayetteville to play top-ranked Arkansas is an undeniably difficult challenge for Alabama, but it is also an opportunity. The Tide are 30-4 over the last two seasons and while they have beaten several good teams in that stretch, they haven’t faced SEC competition to prove themselves. That changes—in a big way—this weekend. Arkansas, meanwhile, began the season with 12 straight wins to rise to No. 1 for the first time in program history. But the Razorbacks have looked a little more vulnerable over the last week and come into the weekend off back-to-back losses. They’ll be looking to get back on track and off to a strong start in SEC play.

(12) South Carolina at (3) Vanderbilt

South Carolina (11-4) started the season 11-0 but has fallen off that form entering SEC play. After getting swept last weekend at Texas, the Gamecocks lost Wednesday against Davidson and will carry a four-game losing streak into Opening weekend of SEC play. It doesn’t get any easier for South Carolina, which has scored just 10 runs in that skid. Vanderbilt (13-2) is coming off a strong series win at Oklahoma State and with righthanders Kumar Rocker (4-0, 0.00) and Jack Leiter (4-0, 0.45) leading the rotation, runs can be tough to come by for opponents. If the Gamecocks can make this a low-scoring series, they’ll have a chance at an upset, but containing the Commodores’ offense is not an easy task.

(25) Oklahoma State at (7) Texas Tech

Unlike the rest of the major conferences, the Big 12 has a soft opening to its conference slate, with just two series this weekend. But this one is a doozy. It’s a rematch of the 2019 Lubbock Super Regional—won by Texas Tech—and will have a big impact on the conference race, despite being on opening weekend. Texas Tech (14-3) has won 14 straight since getting swept on Opening Weekend at the State Farm Showdown in Arlington, Texas, and looks every bit like the Big 12 favorite it was expected to be. Oklahoma State (11-3-1) is off to a solid start but is coming off a tough series loss at home to Vanderbilt. While the Cowboys looked overmatched in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Commodores, facing righthanders Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter will have that effect on teams and Oklahoma State rebounded the next day to win the finale. It will need to carry that momentum to Lubbock—where Texas Tech has won 23 straight games dating back to the 2019 super regional. If Oklahoma State can find a way to win the series, it will throw open the Big 12 race. If not, Texas may be the only team capable of competing with Texas Tech.

(14) North Carolina at (21) Boston College

After starting the season with four straight road series—at Charleston Southern, Duke, Auburn and Louisville—Boston College (10-5, 2-4) will get to stay home for the weekend for the first time this season. The level of opposition doesn’t ease up for the Eagles, however. North Carolina (10-5, 6-3) is off to a strong start to the season, thanks in large part to its pitching staff. The Tar Heels are led by righthander Austin Love (3-0, 2.88) in the rotation and relievers Joey Lancellotti (1-1, 2.45, 1 SV) and Caden O’Brien (0-0, 1.80, 2 SV). BC has the offensive firepower to break through against that pitching staff, starting with outfielder Sal Frelick (.400/.459/.677, 4 HR). To win the series, however, the Eagles will need to take a step forward on the mound. They have a 5.77 team ERA, the second-worst mark in the ACC, and last weekend gave up 20 runs while getting swept at Louisville. Home cooking may be just what BC needs to get back on track following that tough weekend.

(17) Arizona at (23) UCLA

UCLA and Arizona were picked first and second in the preseason Pac-12 coaches’ poll and they bring plenty of talent into this weekend. But both have had stumbles early this season. UCLA (10-5) has lost two series—last weekend at Cal Poly and at home to San Francisco on Opening Weekend. Arizona (12-4) doesn’t have a losing weekend but split twice—last weekend against Air Force and Wichita State and Opening Weekend against Ball State. At their best, the Bruins and Wildcats still look like the teams they were predicted to be coming into the season. Arizona may have the best offense in the country and is averaging 9.3 runs per game, the most of any major-conference team. UCLA stands out more for its talent on the mound and has a solid 3.34 team ERA. Those contrasting styles sets up a fascinating series that will reveal a lot about the Pac-12 race to come.

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