Pac-12 Baseball: Is the Conference of Champions Too Good for Its Own Good?
The Pacific-12 Conference had a great opening weekend on the baseball diamond.
There are currently four teams in the top 10 of National College Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) Poll and three more in the Top 35.
With seven of the 11 schools (Colorado doesn't field a team) being ranked in the Top 35, will the Pac-12 do more harm than good when conference play begins in mid-March?
Two other polls, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, also have five Pac-12 teams listed in their Top 25, but their top 10 rankings are considerably different with Baseball America only giving Oregon State a nod while Collegiate Baseball has three teams in the top 10.
Let's take a closer look at the top-ranked teams from the Conference of Champions.
Oregon State Beavers
NCBWA Rank: No. 8
Baseball America Rank: No. 6
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 9
Composite Rank: No. 7.66
The Oregon State Beavers participated in the Palm Springs Tournament over the weekend and were victorious beating Utah Valley, Gonzaga and UC Riverside twice.
Next up for the Beavers is a Thursday to Sunday four-game stretch at San Diego State. The Aztecs are 3-0 and ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball.
NCBWA Rank: No. 6
Baseball America Rank: No. 12
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 6
Composite Rank: No. 8
The UCLA Bruins dropped their season opener 6-2 to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and then went on to pummel the Gophers by a combined score of 28-1 in the next two games.
The Bruins travel to Waco, Tex. this weekend to take on the Baylor Bears. UCLA then makes the short trip to Santa Barbara to take on the UCSB Gauchos on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
NCBWA Rank: No. 5
Baseball America Rank: No. 14
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 5
Composite Rank: No. 8
The Oregon Ducks traveled to Honolulu, Haw. and swept University of Hawaii in four straight games, outscoring the Rainbow Warriors 21-11.
Next up for the Ducks is a three-game home stand this weekend against Loyola Marymount and a Tuesday night contest hosting Portland.
NCBWA Rank: No. 10
Baseball America Rank: No. 23
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 15
Composite Rank: No. 16
The defending NCAA College World Series Champion Arizona Wildcats are not getting any respect from the polls. They swept their weekend series against Coppin State, scoring 43 runs in three games while only giving up 10.
Next up for the 'Cats is a short two-game stand at Long Beach State on Tuesday and Wednesday, then back home for a three-game set hosting San Jose State.
The Dirtbags of Long Beach State are a perennially solid team and stole one of three last weekend from a Vanderbilt team that is ranked in the top five of all three polls.
NCBWA Rank: No. 14
Baseball America Rank: No. 15
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 11
Composite Rank: No. 13.33
The Stanford Cardinal had a tough opening weekend in Houston. They lost two of three to the Rice Owls, being outscored 10-4 over the three games.
Rice jumped in all three rankings while the Cardinal took a tumble. The Owls are now ranked above Stanford in all three polls.
The Cardinal were scheduled to play the Cal Bears on Tuesday night, but the game has been postponed until Wednesday night due to rain. Stanford hosts Fresno State this weekend at the Sunken Diamond.
Arizona State Sun Devils
NCBWA Rank: No. 22
Baseball America Rank: NR
Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 23
Composite Rank: No. 22.5
The Arizona State Sun Devils welcomed Bethune-Cookman over the weekend and got a little more than they bargained for from the Daytona Beach school. The Devils needed extra innings to win the season-opener and a late-inning rally fell short in the final game, losing 7-6.
Arizona State travels to Knoxville this weekend to take on the Volunteers in a three-game set. This will be a good test for the new Sun Devil squad that is replacing several players that were drafted by MLB teams.
California Golden Bears
NCBWA Rank: No. 34
Baseball America Rank: NR
Collegiate Baseball Rank: NR
Composite Rank: No. 34
The Cal Bears had an eventful opening weekend against the Michigan Wolverines. They needed extra innings to finish off the scrappy Wolverines in the first two games and nipped them 2-1 in the series finale.
The Bears will travel to Stanford on Wednesday to take on the Cardinal and then travel to Irvine for a four-game set against the Anteaters.
A Final Thought
In looking at all the ranked teams and which teams they will have to play in conference, it looks as if Oregon and Arizona State are the big winners with four of the six series against ranked teams at home while Oregon State and Arizona play four of the six on the road.
Here is the breakdown for the ranked teams.
- Home vs. Arizona State and Cal
- Travel to Arizona, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon
- Two single games hosting Oregon
- Home vs. Cal, Oregon State and Arizona
- Travel to Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford
- Home vs. Arizona, Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State
- Travel to Arizona State and Cal
- Two single games at Oregon State
- Home vs. Oregon State and Cal
- Travel to Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State
- Two single games hosting Arizona State
- Home vs. Arizona, Oregon State and UCLA
- Travel to Oregon, Arizona State and Cal
- Two single games hosting Cal
- Home vs. UCLA, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona
- Travel to Oregon State and Cal
- Two single games at Arizona
- Home vs. Oregon, Arizona State and Stanford
- Travel to UCLA, Arizona and Oregon State
- Two single games at Stanford
This will be an interesting season to see how well the Pac-12 does in the regular season and more importantly in the postseason. It would be a shame to pit teams against each other in the Super Regionals as it would be great to see as many schools repping the Pac-12 as possible in Omaha.