What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (2/26)
Top 25 Schedule
|Rank||Team||Opponents (Fri., Sat., Sun.)||TV||Notes|
|1||Mississippi||Central Florida||SEC Network+|
|2||Virginia||at North Carolina (Thurs.-Sat.)||ACC Network Extra|
|3||Miami||Virginia Tech||ACC Network Extra|
|4||Vanderbilt||Georgia State||SEC Network+|
|5||Louisville||Western Illinois||ACC Network Extra|
|6||Arkansas||Southeast Missouri State (Thurs.-Sun.)||SEC Network+|
|8||Mississippi State||Tulane||SEC Network+|
|9||Florida State||Pittsburgh||ACC Network Extra (Fri., Sun.), ACC Network (Sat.)|
|11||Duke||Boston College||ACC Network (Fri.), ACC Network Extra (Sat., Sun.)|
|12||Texas Tech||Houston Baptist||ESPN+|
|13||Louisiana State||Youngstown State (Fri., Sat.), Nicholls State (Sat.)||SEC Network+|
|14||UCLA||vs./at UC Irvine||Pac-12 Network Plus (Fri., Sun.), BigWest.TV (Sat.)|
|15||North Carolina State||(21) Georgia Tech||ACC Network Extra|
|16||South Carolina||vs./at Clemson||ACC Network Extra (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat., Sun.)|
|17||Tennessee||Indiana State||SEC Network+|
|18||Texas||Brigham Young (Wed.-Sat.)||Longhorn Network|
|19||UC Santa Barbara||vs./at Pepperdine||WCC Network (Fri., Sun.), BigWest.TV (Sat.)|
|21||Georgia Tech||at (15) North Carolina State||ACC Network Extra|
|22||Alabama||Wright State||SEC Network+|
|23||Arizona||Southeastern Louisiana (Thurs.-Sun.)||Pac-12 Network Plus|
|24||East Carolina||at Georgia Southern||ESPN+|
|25||Oklahoma||vs. Auburn (Fri.), Texas A&M (Sat.), Baylor (Sun.)||FloSports||Round Rock (Texas) Classic|
Series to watch
Central Florida at (1) Mississippi
Ole Miss (4-0) this week grabbed the No. 1 ranking for the first time in the 40-year history of the Top 25. The Rebels on Opening Weekend swept through the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington and on Wednesday won their home opener against Arkansas State to extend their winning streak to 20 games, a program record. Now, Ole Miss has a tricky series on tap against UCF (1-3). The Knights ranked No. 24 in the Preseason Top 25 but have struggled out of the gate against Florida Atlantic and Stetson. UCF has given up 45 runs in four games and will need to get its pitching staff on track to have any chance in Oxford. But this is a team that last year swept Auburn on the road and won’t be intimidated by the challenge of playing in Swayze Field. Ole Miss will be without second baseman Peyton Chatagnier, who on Monday injured his hamstring. Still, slowing down the Rebels is a tall order.
(21) Georgia Tech at (15) North Carolina State
The ACC this season opted to expand its conference season to 12 weekends a decision that, when combined with most schools in the conference requiring their teams to either be off or at least at home during finals, forced the conference schedule to begin in the season’s second weekend. There are several interesting series, including Notre Dame—which was off last week due to coronavirus issues—visiting Wake Forest and Boston College traveling to No. 11 Duke. But the Yellow Jackets (3-1) and Wolfpack (2-1) produce the only ranked matchup of the weekend anywhere in the country. It’s a series that is likely to be heavy on the offense. Both teams have scored 32 runs this season and have stars at the heart of their lineup. But with both offenses keyed up, this series may be decided by which team has a deeper bullpen. With that in mind, keep an eye on veteran lefthanders Kent Klyman (NC State) and Joseph Mannelly (Georgia Tech).
Clemson vs. (16) South Carolina
This is one of the best rivalry series in college baseball and this year should be no different. Clemson and South Carolina were fortunately able to move up the series a week—it’s usually played on the third weekend of the season—to accommodate the expanded ACC schedule. Both teams have something to prove this weekend in a series that begins in Clemson before moving to Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., and finishing in Columbia. Clemson (3-0) swept Cincinnati on Opening Weekend but now faces a bigger test with an impressive South Carolina pitching staff. The Gamecocks (4-0) have lost the series in five of the last six seasons but have a chance to this season flip the script. First baseman Wes Clarke (.769/.850/2.308, 6 HR) is off to a scorching start and containing him will be a challenge for the Tigers’ pitchers.
2021 Big 12 Baseball Stock Watch
After yet another thrilling finish in the Big 12 last season, we take stock of where things stand in the conference in the aftermath of the 2021 season.
Pepperdine vs. (19) UC Santa Barbara
This series is a showdown of two teams expected to be among the best in the West. Pepperdine (1-2) was the preseason favorite in the West Coast Conference, while UCSB (2-1) was the pick in the Big West. The Waves, however, are coming off a surprising Opening Weekend series loss to Cal Baptist, adding urgency to this weekend. Outfielder Billy Cook and shortstop Wyatt Young, Pepperdine’s two best players, went a combined 1-for-23 with 11 strikeouts against Cal Baptist and getting them turned around is critical. UCSB bounced back from an Opening Day loss to Santa Clara to win the series and is led by its impressive rotation of lefthanders Rodney Boone and Zach Torra and righthander Michael McGreevy. It’s not an easy pitching staff to get right against, but that will be the Waves assignment this weekend. The series is split between Malibu and Santa Barbara, with Friday and Sunday at Pepperdine and a Saturday doubleheader at UCSB.
Connecticut at Southern Mississippi
Two of the best mid-major programs will meet this weekend at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss (2-2) is coming off a series win against Northwestern State but has started slowly at the plate. The Golden Eagles are hitting .181/.342/.328 as a team, but their pitching staff has picked up the lineup. Righthander Hunter Stanley and lefthander Drew Boyd were outstanding against Northwestern State, combining to hold hitters to no runs on three hits and a walk in 11 innings, while striking out 22. UConn (1-2) last weekend lost a tough series at Virginia. The Huskies also are yet to get going offensively and are hitting .192/.322/.263 as a team. They pitched well in Charlottesville, however, holding a potent Cavaliers’ offense to 15 runs on the weekend. Righthander Ben Casparius, a transfer from North Carolina, on Opening Day made a solid debut with the Huskies. With him and veteran Joe Simeone teaming at the front of the rotation, UConn matches up well on the weekend. Whichever offense clicks this weekend will likely lead its team to a big series win.