My Sixteen Regional Picks – From the Bird’s Nest
Well, it's time to start the baseball post-season.
There will be some in the area that don't pay as much attention this year because of the absence of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. But if you're truly a college baseball fan, you'll be watching with interest.
Everyone is going to make their regional predictions. So, I might as well, too.
Here we go
CORVALLIS--(Oregon State, Nebraska, Yale, Holy Cross) Wow!. Talk about protecting your top seed. The committee certainly did that. Nebraska looks more like a three seed to me, while Yale and Holy Cross shouldn't be a factor. Might be the easiest one to handicap besides...
BATON ROUGE--(LSU, Southeastern La., Rice, Texas Southern) Texas Southern is the weakest team in the field and LSU won't have to throw one of their top three guys. But it doesn't matter. Rice is red hot and if they get by Mac Sceroler, they'll be competitive against the Tigers. But it'll be a total shock if the Tigers aren't playing next weekend.
CLEMSON--(Clemson, Vanderbilt, St. John's, UNC Greesboro) Clemson was the controversial host and most consider them vulnerable. Include me in that number. I think whoever wins game one between Vandy and St. John's gets through the regional. I always pick a three seed. This year, it's the Johnies.
CHAPEL HILL (North Carolina, Fla. Gulf Coast, Michigan, Davidson) Davidson isn't a slouch four seed and FGCU and Michigan are both better than their names imply, especially the Floridians. But North Carolina is loaded and they'll get through.
HOUSTON (Houston, Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa) Maybe the most wide open regional of them all. Everyone has an ace and honestly, any of these teams could get through. But I like the Cougars' offense, especially against a field that doesn't have overpowering pitching.
LEXINGTON (Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina State, Ohio) Another regional that's pretty easy to handicap. NC State has a pretty powerful offense, but few teams hit as well as the Wildcats. This is a club that could get to Omaha. And, they're fun to watch.
LONG BEACH (LBSU, Texas, UCLA, San Diego State) A pitching rich regional that probably won't have a ton of runs scored. In that case, you pick the best staff of the bunch and I think that's Texas, which is playing as well as anyone right now. Hook 'em.
STANFORD (Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, BYU, Sacramento State) Cal State Fullerton's pitching against BYU's bats will be an interesting first game. What effect will the Thursday start have on the opening night pitchers? We'll see. I want to pick the Titans, but something tells me the Cardinal gets it done in Mike Marquess' swan song.
LOUISVILLE (Louisville, Oklahoma, Xavier, Radford) Louisville was criticized for its soft non conference schedule. But the Cardinals were still awfully good. And, that will be good enough to get them through this regional. But watch Xavier. Just sayin.'
LUBBOCK--Texas Tech, Arizona, Sam Houston, Delaware) Three different teams would win this regional. Texas Tech may have the luxury of saving its ace for the winner's bracket and that could spell the difference. Heath Donica against Arizona could be special as the two schools have a rematch from last year's opener in Lafayette. I'm taking the Red Raiders, but I'm not going to be surprised if I'm wrong.
FORT WORTH (TCU, Virginia, Dallas Baptist, Central Connecticut State) Again, the weaker four seed could mean a lot here. Virginia, however, feels like they have something to prove after not only getting snubbed as a host site, but getting sent here as well. The loss of Lukan Baker, I think, hurts the Frogs. I'm taking UVA
TALLAHASSEE (Florida State, UCF, Auburn, Tennessee Tech) Interesting. A few weeks ago we were talking about Mike Martin's club maybe not getting in. Now they are hosting. And, they'd better play well against two other very good teams. Auburn stumbled down the stretch, but we know they're capable. And UCF is a very good team from a very good league. I'm going with the Knights in an upset here.
FAYETTEVILLE (Arkansas, Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts) Not only do the Hogs have to face a solid Oral Roberts club in the first round, they also have a team that would probably be hosting had they not stumbled in their league tournament. I think it's very tough for Arkansas to get through. My money (figuratively) is on Missouri State.
HATTIESBURG (Southern Miss, Mississippi State, South Alabama, UIC) The best offensive series, for sure. UIC's pitching will challenge Southern Miss, but I don't know how much they can score. South doesn't have enough pitching and I think the Bulldogs just have too many injuries. I'm liking the Golden Eagles here.
WINSTON-SALEM (Wake Forest, West Virginia, Maryland, UMBC) Speaking of offenses there aren't too many better than the Demon Deacons. The intriguing team here is Maryland. John Szefc's team stumbled a bit down the stretch, but they pitch well enough to make a lot of noise here. Still, I'm liking the Demon Deacons.
GAINESVILLE (Florida, USF, Bethune-Cookman, Marist) It's a two team race here and frankly, I don't see the Gators being challenged. The Bulls are good, make no mistake. But Florida is good enough to win the whole thing and the Gators will advance.
Those are my picks. Have a good time laughing at me this weekend.