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College  | Story  | 5/16/2024

Final Week Preview Pick 'Em

Vincent Cervino      Craig Cozart     
Photo: Duke Baseball (Duke Athletics)
No. 3 Arkansas at No. 8 Texas A&M

The Razorbacks (42-10) currently have a 2-game lead over Texas A&M in the SEC West, so they only need one victory this weekend to secure the title.  There continues to be questions about their ability to generate runs but there are no concerns on the pitching and defensive side of things.  Starter Hagen Smith is (9-0) on the season, while Stone Hewlett and Gabe Gaeckle have 11-saves combined.  The Aggies (42-10) have lost 2-consecutive SEC series and are looking to secure their national seed aspirations.  The pitching staff has experienced a bit of a rough patch for the first time all year but their combo of offense and pitching is elite.  Arkansas is only (6-6) on the road this year while A&M is (30-2) at home, so I think the Aggies take the series.

Cozy’s Pick:  Texas A&M



The Aggies are scuffling after losing two consecutive series in a row, their first SEC series loss since dropping the opening conference series at Florida. Both of these teams play better at home versus on the road but this is a big matchup of Arkansas’ dominant pitching against A&M’s impressive offense. I still think Hagen Smith is a separator here but this series already looks like weather will impact it significantly.

Vin's Pick: Arkansas


No. 4 Oregon State at Arizona

The Beavers (39-12) looked like they were far and away the class of the Pac-12 in the early part of the season.  They have been very good and you could make an argument that they have the best offense in the nation.  However, they find themselves 1.5 games behind the Wildcats in the regular season standings.  Arizona (32-18) is one of the best stories in college baseball this season and can secure the regular season title this weekend.  They quietly have put up some of the best pitching numbers in the nation and this will be vital to their success.  Oregon State is (7-9) on the road and Arizona’s ball park plays big, it seems like the Wildcats secure the title.

Cozy’s Pick:  Arizona

The Wildcats have led the Pac-12 for large parts of the second half of the season but Oregon State has been the wire-to-wire top ten ranked team throughout 2024. Something is going to give in this series and though Arizona’s run has been very impressive, I think that the Beavers are getting healthier each week and flex their muscles a bit in a big road series victory.

Vin's Pick: Oregon State


Florida at No. 5 Georgia

There are very few clubs in the nation that have more pressure on their shoulders than the Gators (26-25) as their postseason hopes ride on their ability to finish with a record above .500 for the year.  They have really struggled on the road with a (7-11) record, so they need super-star Jac Caglianone to be special as usual.  The Bulldogs (38-12) have never played better and are putting together a strong resume to be a national seed for the NCAA tournament.  Charlie Condon has been otherworldly and they have sorted things out on the mound.  This will be a slugfest all weekend, both teams have hit over 100 round trippers so far but I think Georgia has a chance to sweep.

Cozy’s Pick:  Georgia

The Gators are fighting to save their season as they’ll have to likely win this series on the road and go on a run in Hoover to make the tournament, they currently sit one game above .500 on the year. The Florida pitching staff took a major step forward last week and though Georgia’s staff might not be as deep, they have a Friday ace in Kolten Smith and their offense ranks near the top of the SEC in most categories. Sitting with a top 3 RPI and 16 SEC wins, the Bulldogs keep the foot on the gas pedal with a national seed in sight.

Vin's Pick: Georgia


No. 6 North Carolina at No. 13 Duke

The Tarheels (39-11) have run away with the ACC regular season title and have been one of the most consistent offensive clubs around.  Despite multiple injuries on the mound, they have held things together and pitched well.  However, the challenge has been playing on the road where they have a (7-7) record this year.  The Blue Devils (34-16) are just one of those clubs that are always competitive and figure out ways to win series.  This club can really defend and while ace, Jonathan Santucci won’t pitch for another week or so, they have excellent depth on the bump.  These rivals are only 11 miles apart and the talent on the field is even closer, but it feels like Duke will hold serve at home.

Cozy’s Pick:  Duke

This is a tale of two ranked teams who are secure in their spot in the field of 64 but with two very different paths to get there. Duke needs this series victory to remain in the hosting conversation while a Carolina win will strengthen their case for a top 8 national seed. Duke’s been streaky as of late and the Tar Heels body of work, and lead atop the ACC, have been very impressive, I like the Tar Heels in this one.

Vin's Pick: North Carolina


Virginia Tech at No. 15 Virginia

The Hokies (32-17) started off ACC play on a tear as they went (10-2) in their first four series.  Things have not gone so well since, going (4-11) and having lost 5-series in a row in league play.  They desperately need a series win in Charlottesville and a deep run in the ACC tournament to secure their postseason aspirations.  Virginia (37-14) sits second in the ACC Coastal and is in a good position to host the first round of the NCAA tournament.  However, they can’t afford a slip up this weekend against their in-state rivals.  Both of these clubs can flat out hit and slug at a high level.  If either team gets some length from their starting pitching they will have the advantage.  This will be an extremely entertaining series and I think the Hoos win the series.

Cozy’s Pick:  Virginia

There’s likely no question that the Hokies are the hungrier team here, as they’ll likely need this series win to remain in the at-large conversation while a Virginia win would strengthen their hosting resume. Both teams have been inconsistent towards the back end of ACC play and this should be a high scoring series, giving the edge to Virginia as the home team.

Vin's Pick:
Virginia
 

Fresno State at Air Force

The Bulldogs (29-23) are sitting atop the Mountain West standings but have hit the skids at the wrong time having lost 8 of their last 10 games.  The bullpen is at the core of this club's success and if their starters keep them in contention, this could be a good weekend.  However, the Falcons (23-26) have been road warriors this year and you never have to worry about their toughness.  Erdle Field is a unique and difficult venue to play if you’re the opposing team and Air Force is obsessed with defending their home turf.  Air Force is only a game out of first place, a series victory this weekend will deliver the championship and I think the Falcons get it done.

Cozy’s Pick:  Air Force

This matchup features the top two teams in the Mountain West conference and the Air Force home field advantage is real. They look like another deep and talented Falcons team who, with winning two of three, would take over first place in the conference heading into tourney week.

Vin's Pick: Air Force


Grand Canyon at Utah Valley

Grand Canyon (32-20) has won 5-consecutive conference series and now have a 4-game cushion atop the WAC standings.  Tyler Wilson is having a career year and the depth of the bullpen has proven to be a real strength for this club.  The Wolverines (27-25) are playing their best ball of the season, have won 7 of their last 10 and 3-consecutive conference series.  Daniel Dickenson is one of the most underrated hitters in the nation and this offense can pressure opponents in a multitude of ways.  The Antelopes are streaking right now and I think they keep their momentum heading into the postseason.

Cozy’s Pick:  Grand Canyon  
        
This is another first and second place matchup as Grand Canyon heads on the read to take on the second place team in the WAC in Utah Valley. Grand Canyon obviously lost some star power last year but remains a power in the WAC, entering this weekend at 21-6 in conference play. Look for them to take care of business on the road against a good Utah Valley offense.

Vin's Pick: Grand Canyon