Breakdown: Midweek matchups to watch
4/19/2011 11:53:09 AM
South Carolina and Texas A&M are on high alert entering the midweek.
The Gamecocks ascended to the top spot in the Perfect Game Top 25 rankings this week after earning a huge home series win over Vanderbilt this past weekend. However, they almost didn't jump Virginia as a result of a bad midweek loss to The Citadel. Texas A&M, meanwhile, is aiming for a national seed, but has lost its last two midweek games to Houston and Rice.
The Gamecocks hit the road again this week for a bout against hungry College of Charleston, while the No. 5 Aggies are at home to take on No. 14 TCU.
The midweek bout between the Aggies and Horned Frogs highlights the action, but there are plenty of other contests to watch.
NO. 1 SOUTH CAROLINA AT COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON -- The Gamecocks hit the road last week and dropped a tough bout to The Citadel in a game that displayed very little offensive production. The Gamecocks hope to bounce back this week. This contest, though, is i much more important for the Cougars. Charleston entered the season with high hopes of returning to the postseason. However, despite a 23-14 overall record, they're out of the postseason picture for now with an 8-7 Southern Conference record and 7-10 record vs. RPI Top 100 teams. A win over the Gamecocks would be a step in the right direction for the Cougars.
NO. 14 TCU AT NO. 5 TEXAS A&M -- The Aggies continue to take care of business in Big 12 play, but they've gotten in a habit the past two weeks of floundering in midweek games. If they want to hold on to a national seed as the season progresses, the Aggies must start taking care of business in the midweek. Getting back on track against the Horned Frogs tonight would be a good way to do that. Though many midweek games can turn into slugfests, this is expected to be another pitcher's duel with Andrew Mitchell on the mound for TCU and Brandon Parrent on the bump for the Aggies. TCU needs this win to start inching closer to the NCAA Regional hosting discussion.
COASTAL CAROLINA AT NO. 10 NORTH CAROLINA -- Potential No. 1 NCAA Regional seeds are breathing a sigh of relief this week as Coastal's RPI ascended to 53 after another solid week. There's not a team in America that wants to see Coastal in an opening-round matchup with top prospect Anthony Meo on the mound. The Chants, though, still have some work to do to cement themselves as an at-large team. Despite an improving RPI, the Chants are 0-5 vs. RPI Top 50 teams and 7-9 vs. RPI Top 100. Should the Chants not win the Big South tournament, that resume likely wouldn't get them in the tournament. That's why the contest against the Tar Heels is so important. UNC has an RPI of 5.
WICHITA STATE AT NO. 15 OKLAHOMA STATE -- The Shockers have had major issues establishing consistency this season, and it shows in their 23-16 overall record. But more troubling for the Shockers at this point in the season is the fact they're currently not the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference, and they definitely would make the NCAA postseason if the season ended today with a dismal RPI of 119. That's why getting a road win over the surging Cowboys is important, both from an RPI and confidence standpoint. This contest is somewhat of a trap game for the Cowboys. OSU is coming off an emotional series win over rival Oklahoma and must head to College Station, Texas, later this week for a huge Big 12 series against Texas A&M. This game could have some major upset potential.
NEBRASKA AT CREIGHTON -- This game is more heralded because it marks the official opening of TD Ameritrade Park, which will host the College World Series beginning this June. But the contest also could have postseason implications at the end of the season. Nebraska is coming off a big home series win over Kansas State, and has an RPI of 65 with a 5-7 mark in Big 12 play. In other words, the Huskers still have a lot of work to do to make the NCAA postseason. Creighton, meanwhile, has an RPI of 38 but is just 4-2 vs. RPI Top 100 teams. In other words, the Bluejays haven't exactly played a great schedule. Both teams could use a good midweek win. The Huskers won the first meeting between the two clubs.
UAB AT NO. 24 TROY -- Despite a poor last week that included a midweek loss to Jacksonville State and weekend series loss to a bad Middle Tennessee State team, the Trojans stayed in the rankings. However, that'll change next week if they don't have a good week. It starts with taking care of business in midweek action. The Trojans' hosting chances took a huge hit with the MTSU series loss, dropping their RPI to 42 with just a 7-6 record vs. RPI Top 100 teams. UAB, meanwhile, was in the mix for the NCAA postseason in last week's projections, but it is now 80 in the RPI after a series loss to Memphis.
MISSISSIPPI AT MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It's not a given that either team makes the NCAA postseason at this point in the season, but things are looking promising for Ole Miss with an RPI of 32 and an 8-7 record in the SEC. State, though, can't afford to slump down the stretch. The Bulldogs, who looked to be in great shape a few weeks ago, have an impressive RPI of 26. However, they have a 6-9 conference record after a tough series loss to Arkansas last weekend. Though this game doesn't count in the SEC standings, it's an RPI boost for both teams. Oh yeah, there's that little rivalry thing, too.
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AT TULANE -- This is an important game for both teams from a postseason standpoint. The Lions are one of those strange teams in the sense they have a solid postseason resume but only are 10-8 in the Southland Conference. It's up in the air on if the Lions would make the postseason if the season ended today. They've got a solid 5-4 record vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-7 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Tulane, meanwhile, is coming off a series loss to Rice and has some solid series wins (Ole Miss being the best). The Green Wave, though, is just 7-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-14 vs. RPI Top 100. On top of that, they have a 4-8 mark in Conference USA.
CLEMSON AT GEORGIA -- This is a big game for both teams, but even more so for the Bulldogs, who are trying to stay above .500 overall. The Bulldogs dropped a hard-fought home series to Florida last weekend. As a result, they have an impressive RPI of 17 with a respectable 9-6 record in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs are just 19-18 overall, and you can't make the NCAA postseason with a .500 record. Clemson, meanwhile, has an RPI of 15 and finally broke even (9-9) in conference play with a road series win over Boston College last weekend. The Tigers only are 5-10 vs. RPI Top 50 but have a 13-12 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Both teams could use a resume-boosting win.
NO. 4 FLORIDA AT CENTRAL FLORIDA -- The Gators aspire to earn a national seed at the end of the season, so every game is important. But this game definitely is more important for the Knights. The Knights defeated the Gators in the first meeting between the two teams, but were playing better baseball at that point. Now, though, the Knights are on the bad side of the NCAA postseason bubble. They dropped a series to Tulane this past weekend and are 4-8 in C-USA play. The Knights also are just 6-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-12 vs. RPI Top 100. UCF still has a very solid 35 RPI, but the resume just doesn't add up at this point. Beating UF would be a step in the right direction.
NO. 19 SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AT LSU -- The Golden Eagles took a step back in the national seed department a few weeks ago with a tough series loss to Memphis, and as a result now have some work to do to get back in the top eight. Though LSU has a poor overall resume, it still would be a solid RPI win for the Golden Eagles. The Tigers, though, need to drastically change their fortunes down the stretch to make the NCAA postseason. The Tigers are 4-11 in the SEC, 8-11 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-12 vs. RPI Top 100, and have an RPI of 29. The Tigers desperately need to start racking up good wins, and it starts against USM.