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What To Watch For Opening Weekend In College Baseball (2/19)



Top 25 Schedule

RankTeamOpponents (Fri., Sat., Sun.)TVNotes
1FloridaMiamiSEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat., Sun.)
2UCLASan FranciscoPac-12 Network Plus
3Texas Techvs. (14) Arkansas (Sat.), (4) Ole Miss (Sun.), (8) Mississippi State (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
4Mississippivs. (13) Texas Christian (Sat.), (3) Texas Tech (Sun.), (12) Texas (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
5VirginiaConnecticutACC Network Extra
6VanderbiltWright State (Sat.-Sun.)SEC Network+
7LouisvilleBellarmine (Sat.-Sun.)ACC Network Extra
8Mississippi Statevs. (12) Texas (Sat.), (13) Texas Christian (Sun.), (3) Texas Tech (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
9Florida StateNorth Florida (Sat.-Sun.)ACC Network Extra
10Louisiana StateAir Force (Sat., Sun.), Louisiana Tech (Mon.)SEC Network+
11Miamiat FloridaSEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat., Sun.)
12Texasvs. (8) Mississippi State (Sat.), (14) Arkansas (Sun.), (4) Ole Miss (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
13Texas Christianvs. (4) Ole Miss (Sat.), (8) Mississippi State (Sun.), (14) Arkansas (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
14Arkansasvs. (3) Texas Tech (Sat.), (12) Texas (Sun.), (13) Texas Christian (Mon.)FloSports
State Farm College Baseball Showdown, Arlington, Texas
15ArizonaBall StatePac-12 Network Plus
16Dukeat Coastal Carolina (Sat.-Sun.)ESPN+
17North Carolina StateOff
18South CarolinaDaytonSEC Network+
19Tennesseeat Georgia SouthernESPN+
20MichiganOff
21UC Santa BarbaraSanta ClaraBigWest.TV
22Georgia TechEastern KentuckyACC Network Extra
23OklahomaOff
24Central Floridavs./at Florida AtlanticESPN+ (Fri.), CUSA.TV (Sat.-Sun.)
25AlabamaMcNeese StateSEC Network+

(11) Miami at (1) Florida

This is annually one of college baseball’s best rivalries and this year is no different. Typically played in the second week of the season, the teams this year had to move it to Opening Weekend due to the ACC expanding its conference schedule to 12 weekends. To add to the spectacle, Florida is opening its new Florida Ballpark, a $65 million stadium. You couldn’t ask for more in an Opening Weekend series.

On the diamond, Florida has the top-ranked team in the country after returning nearly everyone from its 2020 team, which went 16-1 and finished the abbreviated season ranked No. 1. That impressive start to the year included a sweep of the Hurricanes in Coral Gables, marking the sixth straight year the Gators have won the rivalry series. While it was a sweep, the games were all close—two went to extra innings and the total run differential on the weekend was six. To flip the result, Miami will need more offense. It scored just eight runs in the series a year ago and is now breaking in a completely new rotation, including true freshmen righthanders Victor Mederos and Alejandro Rosario. Miami will need catcher Adrian Del Castillo and first baseman Alex Toral, both first-team Preseason All-Americans, to lead the way. Florida, meanwhile, will again turn to a rotation of Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich and Hunter Barco to silence the Hurricanes’ bats.

State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas

(3) Texas Tech, (4) Mississippi, (8) Mississippi State, (12) Texas, (13) Texas Christian, (14) Arkansas

The tournament, held at the Rangers’ Globe Life Stadium, is slated to bring together six teams ranked in the top 15—three from the Big 12 and three from the SEC. With so many talented teams, it promises to be one of the best events all season.

But with severe winter weather hitting Texas and the whole Southeast this week, the event is facing some challenges. The whole tournament has been pushed back a day and is now slated to start Saturday. Provided it can stick to that schedule, there are no shortage of storylines to watch in Arlington.

The event starts with Texas facing Mississippi State, a game that will feature a matchup on the mound of the Longhorns’ Ty Madden and the Bulldogs’ Christian Macleod, two of the most exciting pitchers in the field. Ole Miss will debut its new-look infield, after losing both shortstop Anthony Servideo and third baseman Tyler Keenan in the draft. Arkansas and Texas Tech both have new rotations, while TCU prepares to show off the experience throughout its roster.

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Connecticut at (5) Virginia

UConn is no stranger to high-powered Opening Weekend series, and it has another one this year. The Cavaliers are a formidable opponent, as they’ll run out a rotation of lefthander Andrew Abbott and righthanders Griff McGarry and Mike Vasil, which could be one of the best in the country, and a lineup that features Preseason All-American third baseman Zack Gelof and center fielder Chris Newell. But the Huskies can’t be overlooked. They return a strong team and will get a couple boosts this weekend, as righthander Ben Casparius on Friday will make his program debut after sitting out the 2020 season while transferring from North Carolina and catcher Pat Winkel returns to the lineup after missing last season due to injury. This weekend represents an opportunity for both programs to make a statement.

(16) Duke at Coastal Carolina

The Chanticleers typically host a big tournament on Opening Weekend, but in this strange 2021 season will instead welcome just Duke to Springs Brooks Stadium for a series that will start Saturday due to inclement weather. Coastal enters the season as the Sun Belt Conference favorites. It’s rebuilding its rotation with a couple of graduate transfers who will be put to the test this weekend, but does get back outfielder Parker Chavers, a 2020 Preseason All-American who missed all of last season due to injury. Duke returns a strong, veteran lineup featuring slugger Joey Loperfido, shortstop Ethan Murray and Michael Rothenberg, and will hope to get a boost from graduate transfer Peter Matt. Its rotation is an area to watch, however, after ace Bryce Jarvis was drafted in the first round. Righthander Cooper Stinson is ready to step into the lead role, but the Blue Devils will need someone to step up behind him.

This weekend also marks the return of Coastal coach Gary Gilmore to the dugout. He coached just two games last season before he had to take a medical leave following a cancer diagnosis. After treatment during the offseason, Gilmore has resumed his duties as head coach and having him back in the dugout will be a welcome sight.

San Diego vs. San Diego State

A showdown between intra-city rivals could produce the best Opening Weekend series on the West Coast. San Diego State is the preseason favorite in the Mountain West Conference and features hard-throwing righthander Troy Melton at the front of its rotation. USD is expected to contend in the West Coast Conference and has plenty of talent on its roster, including sluggers Shane McGuire and Caleb Ricketts and righthanders Jake Miller and Carter Rustad. An Opening Day matchup of Melton and Miller is expected and should draw a lot of attention from scouts.

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