Conference play is upon us! Well, specifically conference play for the ACC. Most teams have another week or two before they face a conference rival, which allows us to continue seeing unique matchups across the nation. Let's take a look...
#14 Florida State vs #12 Duke
Surprisingly, there aren't many Top 25 matchups this week. In fact, this is the only Top 25 matchup (excluding the Southern California College Baseball Classic). Both Florida State and Duke have put on a strong showing so far this season with a combined record of 19-5. This will be Duke's first Top 25 opponent of the season, whereas Florida State has already faced Texas Tech and an undefeated Mercer. Both of these schools are favorites to finish on top of the ACC with a potential run to Omaha, so they will need to take care of business this weekend to put them in a favorable position in the standings moving forward.
San Diego vs Indiana
San Diego may be the most overlooked team in the country. The Toreros are an impressive 9-3 this season with wins over Oregon, Minnesota, UC Irvine, Nebraska, and Iowa. Though their conference is not as tough as some other mid-majors, they have certainly proved that they are capable of winning against talented Power 5 schools. And that is exactly what Indiana is: a talented Power 5 school. Indiana's only losses this season are to #21 LSU and #10 Ole Miss. This will be an exciting series to follow because both of these schools could feasibly earn an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament if they do not win their conference tournament.
#17 Michigan vs Pepperdine
Michigan is off to a decent start this season, going 7-5 with wins over Vanderbilt and Arizona State. However, they also dropped a series to UConn and lost to Stanford and Cal Poly. This lack of consistency is something they will need to turn around if they hope to make it back to the College World Series. They will be facing off against a 10-2 Pepperdine in Malibu this weekend. Pepperdine is off to a hot start, with their only losses coming during mid-week games (one of them being #5 UCLA). This series will be a good indicator on if Pepperdine is a legitimate contender for the tournament this year.
Side note: Michigan has yet to play a game in their home state this season.
San Diego State vs #15 Oklahoma
San Diego State has made a lot of noise this season with wins over Virginia Tech, Coastal Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, Iowa, Nebraska, UC Irvine, Long Beach State, and a series split with Oregon State. That might be the most impressive resume in college baseball so far this season. However, #15 Oklahoma continues to climb the Top 25 rankings following a solid performance in Houston last weekend and wins over #11 Arkansas and #21 LSU. Oklahoma is the favorite to win this series, but do not be surprised to see San Diego State take the series just as #24 Long Beach State did last weekend against #13 Mississippi State.
Cal State Fullerton vs Texas
The Augie Garrido series! The late Augie Garrido, one of the greatest college baseball coaches the sport has ever seen, was the head coach at Cal State Fullerton from 1973-1987 and 1991-1996, as well as Texas from 1997-2016. He won a combined 5 national championships with both schools, cementing himself in the college baseball history. Despite the past success of both programs, Texas is the favorite to win this weekend. Cal State Fullerton is only 4-9 while losing 5 games by 2 runs or less. Texas was close to cracking the Top 25 with a perfect 9-0 record, but going 1-3 last week hurt them in the rankings. We expect to see some close games, with Texas ultimately pulling through.
West Virginia vs Mercer
West Virginia is coming off of a combined no-hitter against Kent State on Wednesday, improving to 8-4 on the season. Mercer was a perfect 11-0 until they lost their midweek game to Florida State in an extra inning thriller. Though West Virginia hosted a regional last year and is the favorite to win this series on paper, we think Mercer has what it takes to upset the Mountaineers. This would be a big series win for both programs since West Virginia is headed into Big 12 play next weekend and this is Mercer's only series against a Power 5 school.
Houston vs Arizona
Arizona has flirted with the Top 25 all season long and are expected to finish toward the top of the Pac-12. A series win this weekend will boost their RPI ranking and put them in a better position to make the NCAA tournament at the end of the season. And although Houston hasn't gotten off to the hottest start this year, going 4-7, they have the talent to finish toward the top of the American Athletic Conference. This is a must win series for Houston to help their RPI ranking as well as give them momentum to take on some tough AAC teams. If Arizona plays good baseball, they will likely take the series.
New Mexico State vs #23 Texas A&M
This is the offensive matchup that college baseball fans need. Texas A&M has obliterated some of their opponents this season, scoring as much as 30 runs in one game. New Mexico State's Nick Gonzales has put up absurd numbers, ranking top 5 in Division 1 in Home Runs, Hits, On Base %, RBI, and Walks. We would not be surprised to see either team take this series because of the offensive talent on each side alone. We can expect to see some bombs in College Station this weekend.
Southern California College Baseball Classic.
#20 TCU, #5 UCLA, USC, #4 Vanderbilt. If you live in southern California, you owe it to college baseball fans everywhere to go watch one of these games. This is the biggest round robin tournament of the season.
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