It was a wild weekend for teams in the Top 10, as seven teams suffered at least two losses. Arizona and Cal-State Fullerton each dropped three, taking them out of the Top-10. Oregon State remained at No. 1, with a series win over UCLA. At 32-3, the Beavers also maintained the top spot in the RPI. Auburn and Florida both moved up, entering the Top 10, with impressive series wins. Stanford, Maryland and Louisiana–Lafayette all moved into the Top 25, while West Virginia, South Carolina and San Diego fell out. This coming weekend, I expect to see even more movement, as several of the top teams face difficult opponents.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE ACC
North Carolina continues to dominate the Coastal Division with a 16-5 mark, four games ahead of Virginia, while Louisville and Clemson fight a heated battle in the Atlantic. The Cardinals currently have a one-game lead. The big anticipated series between Florida State and Miami was shortened to two games because of bad weather, each team winning one. The ACC remains my choice to host the most national seeds. I think three teams will snag the open eight spots. Clemson currently is No. 2 in the RPI, while the Tar Heels are No 3. This series to watch this week is Clemson at North Carolina.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE BIG 10
Maryland slid into first place, with a sweep of Michigan State. The Terrapins have now won seven in a row. The Spartans losses devastated their tournament chances, and only a Herculean effort down the stretch for the Spartans to make the field of 64. Purdue also made headlines this weekend with a three game sweep of Illinois. It was the first time since 2013 that the Boilers have swept a conference series. The Big 10 is perhaps the toughest conference to call. I still like Maryland to host a first round series in the tournament, and Michigan fans are hoping for that opportunity. This weekend, the series to watch is in Bloomington, where the Terrapins will be looking to improve on their seven-game winning streak and padding their RPI.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE BIG 12
Kansas State knocked off West Virginia twice over the weekend, dropping the Mountaineers out of the Top-25. The Wildcats overcame a 4-0 deficit in the rubber game, scoring 11 unanswered runs on the way to an 11-4 win. Texas went 4-0 during the week, with a non-conference sweep over New Orleans. The Longhorns are on the bubble and need every win they can get going forward. TCU moved up to No. 5 in the nation over the weekend, but suffered what could be devastating news, when they learned that stud starter Jared Janczak could be lost for a month with an arm injury. The Horned Frogs have a strong pitching staff, but the loss of Janczak will hurt. This weekend, Lubbock will be rocking as the Red Raiders host TCU. A sweep, would leap-frog them over the Frogs.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE PAC-12
What a weekend it was on the left coast. The word that best describes play in the PAC 12 over the weekend was “SWEEP”. Three teams got their brooms out and did some cleaning. Utah stunned Arizona, knocking them from the Top-10. If you remember back to last season, this is the time when the Utes went on an incredible run that sent them to post-season play. Stanford rolled into Eugene and plucked the Ducks in three straight. The wins moved the Cardinal back into the Top 25. Finally, Cal swept USC, to move into second place in the Pac-12 at 11-7. The Beavers just continue to roll along, chopping down everything in their way. This weekend, the Bruins were able to claim a victory, but still fell in the deciding game on Sunday afternoon. The Beavers now have an incredible five game lead in the conference. This series to watch will be in Palo Alto, where Arizona look to rebound against Stanford.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE SEC
Kentucky continues to shock the SEC. The Wildcats took two of three against LSU over the weekend, and now leads the SEC East with a 12-6 mark and a two game lead over Florida. The Wildcats used the number one offense in the SEC to batter a very strong LSU pitching staff. The Wildcats are now a stunning 19-3 at home. In the West, Mississippi State vaulted into first place, with a weekend sweep over Alabama. Brent Rooker continued his torrid pace with another solid weekend. Rooker who is in the driver’s seat for an SEC Triple Crown, leads the league with a .400 batting average, 16 home runs and 58 RBIs. How about these for additional numbers. He is first in total bases, slugging percentage, on base percentage and doubles. He is also tied for the lead in stolen bases and hits! The big showdown between Auburn and Arkansas went to the Tigers. The Tigers took two of three, scoring 29 runs in the weekend series. Both teams now sit with a 12-6 record, a game behind the Bulldogs. Two premier series are slated for this weekend. Kentucky will travel to South Carolina, while Auburn face offs against Mississippi State.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Last week I promised a look at the teams outside the Power Five. Lets start by looking inside the American Athletic Conference. This conference is loaded with talent. Houston sits at No. 23 nationally, as 27-12 overall, and 8-4 in conference play The Cougars are led by Jake Scheiner who leads the team with 12 bombs and a .371 batting average. On the bump, Trey Cumbie leads the league with a 2.25 ERA. The Cougars have a strong RPI, sitting at 24. Central Florida is also a strong contender to make noise in the post-season. The Knights are led by the speedy Mathew Mika, who leads the AAC in steals with 21. Juan Pimentel anchors the pitching staff, sporting a 2.62 ERA. The Knights have an RPI of 25, making them a shoe-in for the tournament at this time. Perhaps the best team in the AAC are the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls are 32-8 on the season and sport an RPI of 20. The Bulls are my sleeper from this conference. They are led by Ryan Valdes on the mound. Valdes leads the league with eight wins. Kevin Merrell might be the best overall player in the league. The speedy table setter sports a .403 batting average and has 17 steals.
The Big West Conference also sports two contenders for the national championship. Last year we saw CS Fullerton reach Omaha. They are back with another solid edition and currently sit in second place behind Long Beach State. The Titans dropped two out of three over the weekend to Cal Poly, but still have a solid RPI at 32. Long Beach State has quite the resume. The Dirtbags (my favorite nickname) lead the BWC with a 10-2 mark and are 25-13 overall. Their RPI sits at 18, and I don’t see an opportunity to raise it much higher. This bunch of Dirtbags, can definitely play spoiler in post-season play.
Next week I will talk about a few other teams making noise for a post-season bid. I will also take a closer look into the RPI, and explain what and why the RPI is so critical.