Weekend Preview: Five Series With Postseason Implications
With the regular season coming to a close, here’s a look at five key series with postseason implications.
No. 20 Texas (31-17, 12-6 Big 12) at No. 9 Texas Tech (34-12, 11-7 Big 12)
What’s at stake for Texas: At No. 30 in the RPI, the Longhorns remain in striking distance to host a regional, but they’ll need to finish the season strong. This weekend at Texas Tech provides Texas its best opportunity to make a sizable RPI climb. If the Longhorns win the series, they’ll likely lock up a hosting nod. But even if they can just avoid a sweep, a series win next weekend against Texas Christian and a solid performance in the Big 12 tournament should also put them in solid position to host.
What’s at stake for Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are already in great position for a national seed with their No. 3 RPI, although strangely, they remain four games back of first place in the Big 12. Looking to finish first in the conference for the third straight year, Texas Tech has the chance to control its own destiny by facing the two teams ahead of it in the conference standings on back-to-back weekends—Texas this weekend and Oklahoma State the next.
No. 8 UCLA (30-10, 14-4 Pac-12) at Arizona (25-17, 8-11 Pac-12)
What’s at stake for UCLA: Tied for first in the Pac-12 standings with Stanford, the Bruins are looking to keep pace with the Cardinal and possibly pull ahead over the final four weeks of Pac-12 play. The Bruins are currently projected to host, but at No. 20 in the RPI they aren’t yet a lock. A road series win would only help.
What’s at stake for Arizona: In a top-heavy Pac-12 led by Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State, the Wildcats seem like the best of the rest—but they still have work to do in order to claim an at-large bid. The Wildcats’ losing conference record and No. 58 RPI could both use improvement, and a series win against the Bruins would go a long way toward boosting both. The Wildcats are in a critical part of their season and will need to finish strong to secure a bid.
No. 18 Indiana (31-10, 9-5 Big Ten) at No. 22 Minnesota (28-12, 11-3 Big Ten)
What’s at stake: It’s the same for both teams—a hosting bid. The only Big Ten team to appear in every Top 25 poll this season, the Hoosiers have slipped while the Gophers have risen, setting up a pivotal Big Ten clash. Though Indiana is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in RPI (No. 21), the Hoosiers enter the weekend in fifth place in the conference standings—three games back of first-place Michigan and two games back of Minnesota (No. 29 RPI). With both teams boasting similar metrics, this weekend could determine which of the two host.
No. 4 Arkansas (32-13, 13-8 SEC) at Louisiana State (26-19, 10-11 SEC)
What’s at stake for Arkansas: Not much. The Razorbacks are in very good shape for a national seed and, as long as they avoid a disastrous ending to the season, should maintain that standing.
What at stake for LSU: A lot more. The runner-up to Florida last year for the national championship, the Tigers have played themselves into dangerous territory with a losing record in the SEC, a 3-12 road record, the No. 53 RPI and a resume that lacks marquee wins other than an early season series win over Texas. As it stands, LSU is one of the first four teams out of the tournament in the most recent Field of 64 projection. The Tigers need to make a big splash and they need to do it soon.
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No. 16 Florida State (31-14, 13-10 ACC) at No. 10 Clemson (34-11, 17-7 ACC)
What’s at stake for FSU: With one more win, head coach Mike Martin becomes the winningest coach in college baseball history. But the Seminoles will be playing for more than one win. Currently sitting third in the ACC Atlantic Division standings behind both the Tigers and North Carolina State, the Seminoles have a somewhat tenuous grip on a hosting bid that could be solidified with series wins against one or both teams in the next two weekends.
What’s at stake for Clemson: A national seed. The Tigers rank as the No. 8 overall seed in the most recent Field of 64 projection, but they face stiff competition from N.C. State, Florida State and, potentially, Duke. Overall conference leader North Carolina is off this weekend for exams. Clemson is one game back. With a series win, the Tigers can establish ACC supremacy.