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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (2/22)

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Florida's Tyler Dyson (Photo by Cliff Welch)

UPDATE: To see this week's Top 25 released Monday, Feb, 25, click here

Top 25 Schedule

Rk.TeamOpponents (Fri, Sat, Sun)TVNotes
1VanderbiltPepperdineSEC Network+
2LSUBryantSEC Network+
3UCLA@ Georgia TechACC Network Extra
4FloridaMiamiSEC Network+
5North CarolinaSouth FloridaACC Network Extra
6Florida StateYoungstown StateACC Network Extra
7StanfordUNLVPac-12 Network Plus
8Texas TechKentuckyTexas Tech TV (Fri-Sat, Mon), Fox Sports Southwest + (Sun.)
9Mississippi State(21) Southern Miss.SEC Network+
10Oregon StateNebraskaNoneSurprise, Ariz.
11East CarolinaMonmouthPirates All-Access
12LouisvilleBrownACC Network Extra
13Ole Miss@ TulaneTulane All-Access
14ClemsonVirginia Military InstituteACC Network Extra
15GeorgiaUMass-LowellSEC Network+
16BaylorCornellNone
17Arkansas@ Southern CaliforniaPac-12 Network Plus
18Auburn@ Central FloridaUCFKnights.TV
19TexasPurdueLonghorn Network
20Michigan@ CitadelSoCon Digital Network
21Southern Miss.@ (9) Mississippi StateSEC Network +
22DukeNorthwesternACC Network Extra
23Coastal CarolinaMichigan State, Kent State, NC StateChanticleer Sports Network (Fri. + Sun)Brittain Resorts Baseball At The Beach
24TCUGrand CanyonHorned Frogs TV
25UC Irvine@ RiceCUSATV

Top 25 Series To Watch

Miami at (4) Florida

The Hurricanes and the Gators have one of college baseball’s best rivalries and will clash this weekend in Gainesville. Florida has won this series four straight years and is 29-12 against Miami in Kevin O’Sullivan’s 11 years as coach. This year’s series will have a different feel, however, as longtime Hurricanes coach Jim Morris retired following last season. Gino DiMare, Morris’ longtime assistant, has taken over the program and Miami is off to a strong 4-0 start, with a sweep of Rutgers and a midweek win against Florida Atlantic. Florida (3-2) opened the season with a sweep of Long Beach State before dropping midweek games against South Florida and North Florida. Both the Gators and Hurricanes have young teams, and Florida has used 11 true freshmen so far this season. Still, the Gators will be a step up in competition for the Hurricanes and playing on the road adds an even bigger challenge. Miami has been impressive offensively so far and if it can keep that up in Gainesville, it would be a big early season statement.

(21) Southern Mississippi at (9) Mississippi State

This matchup last season precipitated college baseball’s biggest drama, as Southern Miss swept Mississippi State in Hattiesburg and just two days after the series ended, Bulldogs coach Andy Cannizaro resigned as the result of off-field indiscretions. Now, Mississippi State (4-0) has a new head coach (Chris Lemonis) and will be looking for payback against a talented Southern Miss (3-0) team. The Golden Eagles will again be without Preseason All-American outfielder/righthander Matt Wallner on the mound but will have his powerful bat in the lineup. First baseman Tanner Allen will look to stay hot for the Bulldogs after starting the season 7-for-16 with three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs.

(25) UC Irvine at Rice

The Anteaters (2-2) started the season with a solid series win at home against Washington before losing a midweek game at San Diego State. The Owls (2-3) won a series at home against Rhode Island before getting knocked around at home in midweek games against Texas and Arizona. Both teams have first-year head coaches and are facing tough roads ahead. One of them will get a series win this weekend that would allow it to build some momentum heading into March.

-Teddy Cahill

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Under-the-Radar Series To Watch

Wright State at Oklahoma State

Wright State annually makes life tough on power conference opponents in non-conference play. Just ask Mississippi, with which the Raiders split two games last weekend. Now, Wright State (1-1) heads to Stillwater to take on an Oklahoma State team that got more of a stiff challenge than you might have expected from Texas-Rio Grande Valley. If the Raiders are going to upset the Cowboys (3-1), they’ll want to get more from starting pitchers Bear Bellomy and Zane Collins, each of whom had their struggles against the powerful Rebels’ lineup. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, will look to get back-to-back big weekends out of Bryce Carter, Max Hewitt and Carson McCusker, all of whom hit .364 or better against UTRGV.

Illinois at Florida Atlantic

These are teams on the outside of our Preseason Field of 64, but both have the potential to play their way in. Both teams got off on the right foot this season, with Illinois going 3-0 in the Wake Forest Tournament, collecting wins over Georgetown, Wake Forest and Sacred Heart. Florida Atlantic (3-1) last weekend swept Cincinnati at home before dropping a midweek contest at Miami. On Sunday against Sacred Heart, the Illini got outstanding work from righthander Cyrillo Watson, who threw six shutout innings, giving up five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. The Owls got a similar outing from righthander Blake Sanderson, with the righty throwing six shutout innings of his own, allowing just four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

Connecticut at College of Charleston

UConn (2-1) made one of the loudest statements of opening weekend, going down to Florida and taking two of three from Louisville, even without the services of All-American Mason Feole. Stand-in Friday starter Jeff Kersten got them off to a good start with a quality outing on Friday, and closer Jacob Wallace picked up a pair of saves. More quietly, CofC is off to a 4-0 start after sweeping UNC Asheville and winning a midweek contest with Charleston Southern. They’re hitting .316 through four games, which will be harder to maintain against UConn’s stable of arms. The Huskies are the favorite, but the Cougars are talented enough to pull the upset. UConn won’t simply be able to waltz in and come away with a series win.

-Joe Healy

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