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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (4/26/19)

Garret_Stallings_TonyFarlow.jpg
Tennessee righthander Garrett Stallings (Photo by Tony Farlow)

Top 25 Schedule

RankTeamOpponentTV
1UCLAUtahNone
2StanfordArizonaPac-12 Network+
3Georgiaat (9) Mississippi StateSEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
4Oregon StateWashington StatePac-12 Network+
5Vanderbilt(20) AuburnSEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
6Arkansas(21) TennesseeSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
7LouisvilleAlabama A&MACC Network Extra
8UC Santa Barbaraat UC RiversideESPN3
9Mississippi State(3) GeorgiaSEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
10Texas A&Mat (23) MississippiSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
11East CarolinaTulanePirates All-Access
12Georgia TechClemsonACC Network Extra
13Arizona Stateat WashingtonPac-12 Network+
14Louisiana Stateat AlabamaSEC Network+
15Texas Tech(22) Oklahoma StateTexas Tech TV (Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.), Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Sun.)
16North Carolina Stateat Notre DameACC Network Extra
17North CarolinaVirginiaACC Network Extra
18West Virginiaat TexasLonghorn Network
19UC Irvineat Cal State FullertonNone
20Auburnat (5) VanderbiltSEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
21Tennesseeat (6) ArkansasSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
22Oklahoma Stateat (15) Texas TechTexas Tech TV (Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.), Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Sun.)
23Mississippi(10) Texas A&MSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
24Baylorat Texas ChristianHorned Frog TV (Fri., Sun.), Fox Sports Southwest (Sat.)
25IndianaMinnesotaBTN2Go (Fri., Sat.), ESPNU (Sun.)

Series To Watch

(3) Georgia at (9) Mississippi State

While Mississippi State (33-9, 10-8) last week fell out of first place in the SEC West when it was swept at Arkansas, this series still provides plenty of intrigue. Georgia (33-9, 13-8) is in first place in the SEC East, but has Vanderbilt hot on its heels. Georgia is also chasing its first SEC title since 2008, also the year of its last College World Series appearance. Mississippi State is trying to stay in the thick of the SEC West race, as well in the mix for a top-eight overall seed. This weekend presents an intriguing matchup, as Georgia ranks second in the nation in ERA (2.71) and Mississippi State ranks first in scoring (8.35 runs per game). Georgia will be without ace Emerson Hancock, who is being held out this weekend due to some arm soreness. Without the sophomore righthander, will Georgia be able to slow down Mississippi State’s powerful offense at Dudy Noble Field, where the hosts this season are 25-4?

(21) Tennessee at (6) Arkansas

The SEC’s other Top 25 interdivision showdown is a meeting of two teams with plenty of momentum. Tennessee (31-11, 9-9) has won eight of its last 10 games, including back-to-back series against Georgia and at Kentucky. Now it faces another tough test at Arkansas (31-11, 12-6). The Razorbacks are coming off a sweep of Mississippi State that vaulted them into first place in the SEC West and has them in position to be a top-eight overall seed for the second year in a row. Much like the Georgia at Mississippi State series, this features one of the premium pitching staffs in the SEC against one of the top offenses. The Volunteers lead the nation in ERA (2.68), while the Razorbacks rank third in the SEC in scoring (7.81 runs per game). They’ve been very difficult to beat at home and are 22-5 at Baum Stadium this spring.

(22) Oklahoma State at (15) Texas Tech

A week ago, Baylor came to Lubbock in first place in the Big 12 and left with a series loss. This week, Oklahoma State (25-13, 10-5) comes to Lubbock in first place in the Big 12 and will be aiming for a better fate at Rip Griffin Stadium. Texas Tech (26-13, 8-7) is still very much in the conference title race itself, and another big series win would have it well positioned going into May. This series has hosting implications as well, with the Cowboys looking to improve their RPI to get onto the host line and the Red Raiders trying to solidify their resume. Oklahoma State will also be looking to reverse the outcome of last year’s series that saw Texas Tech sweep in Stillwater, which denied the Cowboys the title, which went to Texas instead.

Rob-Manfred-Draft

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The draft is moving to Omaha in 2020 and will be held during the week leading up to the College World Series, which begins June 13.

Illinois at Nebraska

The Big Ten race is, as usual, jumbled. Indiana is in first place, with Nebraska (22-14, 11-4) just off the pace. Illinois (26-13, 6-6) is in the middle of the pack, but its overall record and top-25 RPI has it firmly in the mix for the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Illini just need to shore up their conference record to match the rest of their resume. They have the opportunity to do just that over the next two weeks with a visit to Nebraska and then a home series against Indiana. Nebraska is trying to keep pace with the Hoosiers and have just three conference series left, raising the stakes. The Huskers are comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field now, but they’re coming off a series loss at Iowa and face a tricky final month. A series win this weekend would give them some momentum going into May.

Xavier at Creighton

The top two teams in the Big East standings meet this weekend at TD Ameritrade Park. Xavier (17-23, 7-1) survived a brutal non-conference schedule and has won its first three Big East series, including a visit to preseason favorite St. John’s. Now it faces another difficult road test against Creighton (24-8, 5-1), which ranks No. 15 in RPI and has legitimate hopes to host a regional in the home of the College World Series. But to keep those hopes alive, the Bluejays will likely need to win the Big East and face one of their toughest tests this weekend.

Illinois State at Dallas Baptist

Illinois State (26-15, 8-1) has surged to an early lead in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, with Dallas Baptist, Evansville and Indiana State all tied for second two games behind. The Patriots (28-12, 6-3) will this weekend have a chance to cut into that gap and will have homefield advantage at Horner Ballpark. If the Redbirds can find a way to win this series on the road, they would take a big step toward a conference title in coach Steve Holm’s first season and their first since 2013. A series win for DBU would mean the conference title race would be thrown wide open with three weeks to play.

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