This Week in the Pac-12, May 25: The 3 baseball series that matter to Arizonaby Scott Terrell on May. 25, 2012, under Sports
The final weekend of college baseball’s regular season is upon us.
In the Pac-12, every team faces its bitterest rival with five schools still having a chance to finish on top of the standings. In additional to the conference championship the Arizona Wildcats have a big goal that requires paying special attention to one other series outside the Pac-12.
Here’s the official RPI heading into this week for the 19 teams Arizona has faced this year:
|New Mex. St.||25||30||0-2|
|E. Tenn. St.||150||146||3-0|
|N. Dakota St.||184||177||2-1|
Oregon and UCLA remain in the top five. Barring an epic collapse both will get national seeds giving the Pac-12 the inside track to get two teams to the College World Series for the second time in three years. The Pac has an active streak of 15 straight years putting at least one team in the CWS.
The latest polls:
The Pac-12 has two consensus top-10 teams for the first time since the beginning of April. Everybody moved up a bit in the average rankings which is the direction you want to be going headed into Selection Monday.
TWIT-Pac says farewell to the regular season:
#18.8 ASU (35-18 / 17-10) at #11.6 ARIZONA (36-16 / 18-9)
The UA hasn’t won the season series against Arizona State since 2006. This is key series numero uno, and if the Cats are successful, the reward will be great.
#5.4 Oregon (42-14 / 19-8) at #22.2 OSU (35-18 / 15-12)
Oregon State hasn’t lost a series this month including beating Stanford in Corvallis. There is hope, Wildcat Universe, in the second most important series of the weekend.
USC (23-29 / 8-19) at #9.6 UCLA (39-14 / 17-10)
The Bruins are another team that has turned it on in May, posting an 11-2 record this month.
Cal (27-24 / 10-17) at #12.0 Stanford (37-14 / 17-10)
Eight straight wins and counting for Stanford. The Cardinal has allowed a mere 16 total runs in those eight games.
WSU (27-26 / 11-16) at Washington (28-24 / 11-16)
Just two weeks ago the Huskies had an RPI in the low 40s and looked like a lock for the NCAA tournament. Getting swept in consecutive conference series, however, is not a good way to impress the committee.
Utah (14-38 / 7-23) vs. UC Santa Barbara (25-27) & Cal State Bakersfield (22-29)
You see what you’re making the Utes do, Colorado? Turn some of those ski poles into baseball bats and get with the program.
Cal State Fullerton (33-18) at Long Beach State (27-25)
This may as well be a Pac-12 game as far as Arizona is concerned. In the third critical series Wildcat fans should be rooting for Long Beach, the second-place team in the Big West, to upset first-place Fullerton.
Why? Read on.
* * *
The most realistic way for Arizona to get into first place is taking two of three from ASU with Oregon dropping two of three at OSU. If that happens it may very well end up being a four-way tie for the Pac-12 title with UCLA and Stanford poised to deliver sweeps. Not that the Wildcats would complain after two decades without a conference championship. The bottom line is there are a lot of people rooting against Oregon this weekend.
Folks in Tucson will also be rooting against Cal State Fullerton.
As we discussed, the final regional hosting slot in all likelihood will come down to either the Wildcats or Titans. Why not both, you ask? Oregon, UCLA and Stanford have regionals locked up based on their RPI and overall profiles. In the past ten years the NCAA has put four regionals out west three times, three regionals out west six times, and once awarded just two western regionals.
There just won’t be five. College baseball’s tournament is still based on geography as much as possible. That’s also why if the UA hosts, New Mexico State will be in the Tucson bracket for sure. If New Mexico gets in the Lobos will also be at Hi Corbett.
In that way it’s an advantage for the UA that the co-champs in the WAC and Mountain West are located closer to the Old Pueblo than the O.C. But would the NCAA give the Pac-12 four regionals while making the Big West champion travel?
Here’s the full spectrum of possibilities for the BatCats this weekend:
- Pac-12 champions and regional hosts
- Regional hosts
- Beat ASU but don’t host
- Lose series and don’t host
- Get swept and get shipped off to play at #1 Florida State while the City of Tucson revokes the Hi Corbett agreement forcing next year’s team to play at Sportspark
So there’s a lot going on.
Here are the game times for the three series that matter to Arizona Baseball:
|ASU at UA||6 p.m.||6 p.m.||12 p.m.|
|UO at OSU||5:30 p.m.||1 p.m.||1 p.m.|
|CSF at LBSU||6:30 p.m.||5:30 p.m.||1 p.m.|
It will not be a dull Memorial Day weekend.
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