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College | Story | 4/9/2021

Weekend Preview: Week 8

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Andy Archer (GT Athletics-Danny Karnik)
Midseason Collegiate All-Americans |

2021 has been a mess in terms of teams solidifying their positions at the top of the rankings, and last week was no different. The good news is that we have officially passed the halfway mark on the year and are another week closer to Regional play. There’s ranked matchups littered throughout the country and throughout conferences so let’s dive right in.

Top 25 In Action

Rank Team Opponent Location
1 Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Nashville, Tenn.
2 Arkansas at No. 11 Ole Miss Oxford, Miss.
3 Texas vs. Kansas State Austin, Texas
4 Tennessee vs. No. 10 Florida Knoxville, Tenn.
5 Louisville vs. No. 19 Florida State Louisville, Ky.
6 East Carolina vs. Memphis Greenville, N.C.
7 TCU at No. 13 Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas
8 Mississippi State at Auburn Auburn, Ala.
9 South Carolina vs. Missouri Columbia, S.C.
10 Florida at No. 4 Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.
11 Ole Miss vs. No. 2 Arkansas Oxford, Miss.
12 Georgia Tech at No. 15 Notre Dame South Bend, Ind.
13 Texas Tech vs. No. 7 TCU Lubbock, Texas
14 Michigan vs. Ohio State Ann Arbor, Mich.
15 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech South Bend, Ind.
16 Louisiana Tech at Rice Houston, Texas
17 Arizona vs. California Tucson, Ariz.
18 Oregon vs. No. 21 Oregon State Eugene, Ore.
19 Florida State at No. 5 Louisville Louisville, Ky.
20 Miami at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa.
21 Oregon State at No. 18 Oregon Eugene, Ore.
22 UCLA at No. 25 Stanford Stanford, Calif.
23 Indiana State at Illinois State Normal, Ill.
24 Indiana vs. Illinois Bloomington, Ind.
25 Stanford vs. No. 22 UCLA Stanford, Calif.


Midseason Awards Announced

With the halfway mark of the season gone, the Midseason All-American teams have been released, in addition to the midseason awards. In no surprise, Jack Leiter was named the Pitcher of the Year, as he’s ascended to be the top arm in the country with the stats and stuff to back it up. With a 0.43 ERA and a country-leading 71 strikeouts, no one has been more electric than Leiter, who also has a no-hitter to his name. Wes Clarke of South Carolina was named the Player of the Year thanks to his slugging percentage north of .800 and a nation-leading 15 home runs. Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada was named Freshman of the Year, while Vanderbilt was named the Team of the Year and Tennessee’s Tony Vitello the Coach of the Year. You can find the link to the entire article above. 

Ranked Matchups Galore
There’s some serious headliners this week in terms of ranked matchups and most of the conferences around the country are represented. Arkansas heads to Oxford to take on Ole Miss in a series that has been circled for weeks now. The Rebels are coming off a bit of a disappointment by losing their series to Florida last week and the Razorbacks have held steady at the No. 2 or No. 1 position for most of the year. Tennessee versus Florida is a top-10 matchup that has big stakes for both teams. The Volunteers have broken free near the top of the conference thanks to their consistent play while Florida got back on track against Ole Miss last week. Louisville hosts Florida State and Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech for your ACC flavor, while newly-ranked Stanford hosts UCLA and Oregon hosts Oregon State out west. TCU-Texas Tech promises to be a battle as both teams have aspirations of winning the conference. 

Vanderbilt, Arkansas Remain Steady
No one’s been more consistent across the country than the Commodores and the Razorbacks, as they’ve held steady in the top-five throughout most of the season. At the time of writing however, Vanderbilt lost big to Georgia in their opening game of the series. Both teams have yet to drop a series on the year and both have been anchored by impressive performances. There’s the obvious duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter for the Commodores, who are about as safe a bet you will find in the country in terms of starting pitching. Meanwhile, Arkansas’ offense has been relentless with their bullpen being unhittable at times. Christian Franklin, Brady Slavens, and Robert Moore have been impressive in the middle of the order while true freshman Cayden Wallace has not looked like a true freshman in terms of handling the game. Teams rarely make it through a full gauntlet of a season without losing a series, and both Arkansas and Vanderbilt will have to stay locked in if they hope to do so. 

Who’s the B1G Favorite?
The Big Ten regular season is going to be unlike any other throughout the country because of their later start date and being restricted to only be playing against conference opponents throughout the year. Indiana was the favorite in the preseason but dropped significantly in the rankings after a four-game sweep at the hands of Ohio State. Michigan is currently the top-ranked team in the conference but have had struggles of their own, losing games in series from time to time. Nebraska currently ranks atop the standings thanks to a 13-5 start and almost cracking the Top 25 a week ago. The offense has been the story for the Huskers, as the top of the lineup has been really impressive with four starters hitting above .300 and guys like Max Anderson and Spencer Schwellenbach leading the way. Judging the Big Ten season is going to be a nightmare in its own right when it comes time for Selection Day, as it remains to be seen how many teams are going to get a chance to go to Omaha with the strange logistics around the season. 
 
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