Even though the regionals are still going on, it's not too early to get excited about the super regionals at the NCAA baseball tournament.
Before we know exactly who will play where and when next weekend, South Carolina and UNC Wilmington will have to battle in a Game 7, as will LSU and Rice. North Carolina State and Coastal Carolina are almost finished with their Game 7, but rain forced them to suspend action and play the ninth inning Tuesday, with the Wolfpack leading 5-3.
The conclusion of these games will provide a clearer picture going forward, but there is still plenty to like about the next round with a trip to the College World Series on the line. Here is what you need to know about the upcoming set of games around the country.
|NCAA Tournament Super Regionals Schedule|
|Matchup||June 10||June 11||June 12||June 13|
|Boston College vs. No. 3 Miami (Fla.)||5 p.m. (ESPNU)||12 p.m. (ESPNU)||12 p.m. (TBD)||-|
|East Carolina vs. No. 5 Texas Tech||8 p.m. (ESPNU)||3 p.m. (ESPNU)||3 p.m. (TBD)||-|
|Arizona vs. No. 6 Mississippi St.||6 p.m. (ESPN2)||6 p.m. (ESPNU)||6 p.m. (TBD)||-|
|TCU vs. No. 4 Texas A&M||9 p.m. (ESPN2)||9 p.m. (ESPN)||9 p.m. (TBD)||-|
|Florida State vs. No. 1 Florida||-||6 p.m. (ESPN2)||6 p.m. (TBD)||TBD (ESPN2)|
|North Carolina State/Coastal Carolina vs. No. 8 LSU/Rice||-||9 p.m. (ESPNU)||TBD (TBD)||TBD (ESPN2)|
|Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina/UNC Wilmington||-||3 p.m. (ESPN2)||3 p.m. (TBD)||TBD (ESPN2)|
|UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 Louisville||-||12 p.m. (ESPN2)||12 p.m. (TBD)||TBD (ESPN2)|
|All Game 3's are if necessary; Source: NCAA.com|
All games can be streamed online at WatchESPN.
Probably the most interesting series of the next round will be between in-state rivals Florida and Florida State. Both teams swept through their regionals and are dangerous enough to make a deep run in this tournament, although each succeeds in different ways.
Florida State has a red-hot offense that scored 43 runs in three games this past round, including 18 in two different contests. So many batters in the lineup are capable of big hits at big moments, especially Jackson Lueck and Cal Raleigh.
On the other hand, Florida is the No. 1 seed in this tournament thanks to its pitching. Peter Gammons of MLB Network noted the depth of the Gators rotation, even when one player struggles:
This doesn't even count Logan Shore, the ace who is still undefeated as a starter in 16 games this year, or Alex Faedo, who pitched eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in the regional final against Georgia Tech. As good as the Seminoles have been hitting lately, it will be a real challenge to keep it up against this pitching staff.
Another dominant team in the early going is Louisville, which went 3-0 last round with the starters posting a 0.43 ERA. Head coach Dan McDonnell has done a great job to make this team a consistent threat, and he was recently rewarded while becoming the highest-paid coach in the country.
Still, the credit goes to the players, who have been outstanding in every facet of the game. Wright State coach Greg Lovelady provided some high praise for the team that beat his in the regional final.
"It’s going to be tough (to beat them)," Lovelady said, per Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. "They’re so tough 1-9, such a great defensive team. They’ve got the complete team, the team that can really do some damage, especially with those arms. ... I’ve got to think they’re going to be one of if not THE favorite."
The Cardinals have a deep list of players who can be the hero on a given night either at the plate or on the mound. This will make them a scary matchup for UC Santa Barbara.
Finally, fans do not want to miss the super regional battle between in-state rivals TCU and Texas A&M. These two squads battled at this stage a year ago in a dramatic series that needed 16 innings in Game 3 to finally declare a winner.
While TCU got the edge a year ago, Texas A&M is the favorite this time around and is hungry for revenge. The Aggies swept through the competition in the regional by outscoring their three opponents 34-6, and this was no fluke. With Boomer White leading the offense and the versatile Brigham Hill among many top pitchers available, this is a team that will be tough to beat.
As is the case with Florida State, however, never count anyone out in a rivalry.
Most of these eight matchups could end up memorable with every player giving his all to keep his team's season alive. Only eight teams will get a bid to the College World Series, but the path there will be fun to watch.
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