The best weekend in college baseball is upon us. Bar none. End of story.
Since we all know that our fearless leader, Mr. Torres, is a college baseball maven, especially with his beloved UConn Huskies advancing with a wild 11-8 win over Maryland Monday night, let’s take a quick look back at Regional Weekend and a look ahead where college baseball takes center stage and sends its elite eight teams to the College World Series.
In college basketball, there are two weeks up for debate as to what is the best week in the sport.
Some will argue that it is the first week of the NCAA Tournament. While there is some validity in that, it’s a close second to my top choice. Championship week is the best week in college hoops. Each conference, even the Ivy League, crowns a champion and there are literally games all day and all night. Hundreds of them.
While college baseball does not have that quantity of games in its best week of the season, the built-in drama of a closely played baseball game, the home stands full of rowdy fans, and the beautiful outside weather, and the fact that it is not a one-and-done scenario and a series, all help make this Super Regional Weekend the best weekend of the college baseball season.
The Biggest Question Emerging From Regional Weekend
With UConn not only advancing, but also heading west to Stanford, will Hoody AT take a nice, scenic, five-hour drive, or 45-minute plane ride up north to watch his beloved hometown Huskies?
Ironically, this is the Huskies second venture west this season. They spent spring break week in southern California playing San Diego, Pepperdine, USC, and Long Beach State.
Regional Weekend Highlights
Before we dive into the eight matchups in store, let’s take a quick look back at some of the top stories from Regional Weekend…
Parity Reigned Supreme
How about this? Of the 16 double-elimination regionals, 10, count them, 10, were extended to Monday with the team coming out of the losers bracket forcing the deciding, winner-take-all regional championship game.
In addition, 11 of the 16 host teams advanced out of their home ballpark. Miami (6), Oklahoma State (7), Florida (13), Maryland (15), and Georgia Southern (16) were the unfortunate seeded teams whose season’s ended on their home field.
The SEC Isn’t Just A Football Conference
The “It Just Means More” mantra in the SEC must mean that they have more teams left than any other conference. Yes, five SEC teams advanced to Super Regional Weekend - Tennessee, Auburn, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. The ACC was next with four teams. NIne of the 16 teams left come from those two powerful baseball conferences.
By the way, that number of five does NOT include future league members Texas and Oklahoma, who will be joining the conference soon. Yes, the rich just get richer, no pun intended, in the mighty SEC.
Last Team In Is Still Standing
As we mentioned in our NCAA Tournament preview, Ole Miss was the last at-large team selected to the field by the NCAA Committee. Maybe they have an improbable, 2011 VCU college basketball run in them. VCU went from the last team in and from the First Four to the Final Four, falling two games shy from a national title. Ole Miss swept through the Miami regional with three straight wins and won’t have to travel far, staying in state to play Southern Mississippi with a trip to the College World Series on the line.
Stanford Rallies To Keep Season Alive
The Cardinal trailed Texas State 3-1 heading into its last at-bat in the winner-take-all regional championship game. Ironically, this was the last game of regional weekend, and it might have been the best. After Texas State scored twice in the top of the ninth inning, Stanford got back-to-back home runs from Drew Bowser and Tommy Troy in its half of the ninth inning, before Trevor Haskins delivered a walk-off single setting The Farm ablaze with loud cheers.
Regional Predictions Go 11-5
In picking who would advance to Super Regional Weekend, yours truly managed a very respectable 11-5 record.
The Good - Picking top seeds Tennessee, UNC, Texas, Texas A&M, Oregon State, Louisville, Southern Mississippi, and Stanford all turned out to be correct. However, UNC, Louisville, Oregon State, Southern Miss, and Stanford all lost a game and needed to emerge from the winner-take-all regional championship game.
The Great - The selections of lower seeds Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Oklahoma all proved to be correct.
The Ugly - Upset picks of Wake Forest, Gonzaga, FSU, Miami, and Virginia all proved to be wrong. All were eliminated in three games.
Super Regional Preview
Here are the matchups…Remember the highest-seeded team will host these games on campus.
#1 Tennessee vs Notre Dame
#2 Stanford vs Aaron Torres’ UConn Huskies
#3 Oregon State vs #14 Auburn
#4 Virginia Tech vs Oklahoma
#5 Texas A&M vs #12 Louisville
#8 East Carolina vs #9 Texas
#10 UNC vs Arkansas
#11 Southern Mississippi vs Ole Miss
Who will emerge victorious and be headed to Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series? Of course, we have our predictions!
Reminder, these matchups are a best two-of-three series with the home team in bold!
Tennessee over Notre Dame in three games;
Stanford over UConn in two games (would love to be wrong here);
Oregon State over Auburn in two games;
Oklahoma over Virginia Tech in three games;
Texas A&M over Louisville in two games;
Texas over East Carolina in three games;
Arkansas over UNC in three games:
Ole Miss over Southern Miss in three games
How To Watch?
Four series run Friday through Sunday with one game each day, while the other four series start on Saturday and conclude on Monday, if necessary. So, yes, there are eight games on the docket for Saturday.
Regionals starting Friday
Notre Dame at Tennessee
Texas at East Carolina
Oklahoma at Virginia Tech
Louisville at Texas A&M
Regionals starting Saturday
UConn at Stanford
Auburn at Oregon State
Arkansas at North Carolina
Ole Miss at Southern Miss
All games will be on the ESPN Network including ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.
Enjoy the games and we will be back to preview the two-week extravaganza known as the College World Series next week.