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What to Watch: Opening Weekend

College Baseball is upon us! Here are the series that you need to keep an eye on this weekend.

Graphic is courtesy of @SECBaseball

#1 Louisville at #12 Ole Miss

The highlight of the weekend is top-ranked Louisville's trip to Oxford to take on #12 Ole Miss. The Rebels will try to set the tone early for their 2020 campaign. In particular, be on the lookout for the young guys in the Rebel lineup. There is a lot of talent but not much experience, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Louisville will try to cement their role as the preseason favorite to win the National Championship. The rotation should be one of the most feared in the country with Detmers leading the way. A series loss would not be disastrous for the Cardinals, but they will expect to win this series.

John's (@johnny_omaha_) Prediction: Louisville wins two out of three

Kyle’s (@kylemckelv) Prediction: Louisville sweeps

Oklahoma at Virginia

Oklahoma versus Virginia is a series between two teams that just missed our preseason top 25. A win in this series may be enough to propel one of them into the rankings. Oklahoma returns both an experienced rotation and lineup and hopes to be in the conversation to win the Big 12. After winning the National Championship in 2015, Virginia has not been back to Omaha since and has not even made a Regional the past two seasons. 2020 looks to be the year where Virginia will turn things around, and Opening Weekend will be an early litmus test.

John's Prediction: Oklahoma wins two out of three

Kyle’s Prediction: Virginia wins two out of three

#23 UCSB at Sacramento State

#23 UCSB versus Sacramento State is a sneaky good match up between two teams who won 40 games a season ago. These schools are two of the most consistent on the West Coast in recent years, and there's a little bit of bad blood between them as Sacramento State eliminated UCSB from the Stanford Regional last year. Sacramento State returns several excellent arms, including RHP Scott Randall who threw 93.2 innings and put up a 2.59 ERA in 2019. The Gauchos of UCSB will be hard-pressed to beat Sacramento State on the road.

John's Prediction: Sacramento State wins two out of three

Kyle’s Prediction: UCSB wins two out of three

Indiana at #13 LSU

This is also a sneaky good matchup at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, as the 2019 Big Ten Regular Season winner takes on the balanced Bayou Bengals. LSU will have an excellent rotation, returning Cole Henry and Landon Marceaux from last year. Paul Maineri’s club will be ready for a battle against Indiana.

The 2019 Big Ten Coach of the Year, Jeff Mercer, led the Hoosiers to a Big Ten Regular Season title in his first year and he looks to continue his hot streak in a deeper-than-usual Big Ten. The offense might not have as heavy of bats as last year, but Junior 3B Cole Barr should have another good year at the plate.

John's Prediction: LSU wins two out of three

Kyle’s Prediction: LSU sweeps

#20 Oklahoma State at Grand Canyon

Oklahoma State’s offense in 2019 was as electric as they come, finishing fourth in the country in HR%. Their pitching should be improved after underperforming last year, as the Cowboys bring in the eighth-ranked recruiting class that features some powerful arms.

This series is in Phoenix at GCU’s home field, so the ball should fly all weekend, led by GCU 1B, Cuba Bess. The Antelopes were the coaches’ pick to win the WAC and the fact that they return their whole starting rotation from last year gives them a good chance in this series and on the season as a whole.

John's Prediction: Oklahoma State wins two out of three

Kyle’s Prediction: Oklahoma State wins two out of three

Cal State Fullerton at #16 Stanford

Cal State Fullerton finished 2019 at a disappointing 27-26 but should be better than they were a season ago after replacing members of their coaching staff. The Titans will face off against a familiar foe in Stanford, a team that made it to a Super Regional in 2019. Pitching will be the theme of the weekend as two of the best teams on the West Coast duke it out.

John's Prediction: Stanford sweeps

Kyle’s Prediction: Stanford wins two out of three

Kentucky at TCU

Despite having a losing record in 2019, Kentucky was still 51 in RPI and finished four spots ahead of TCU (55). That likely says more about the RPI algorithm than it does the quality of these teams, but regardless, Kentucky will be a challenge for the Horned Frogs. RHP Charles King will anchor the rotation for TCU, but the biggest wildcards will be LHP Russell Smith and RHP Caleb Sloan who both return from Tommy John surgery.

John's Prediction: TCU sweeps

Kyle’s Prediction: TCU sweeps

#2 Vanderbilt, #15 Michigan, UConn, and Cal Poly will all battle it out in Scottsdale to start the season. The marquee game will be when Vanderbilt and Michigan faceoff on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s National Championship series. Vanderbilt will be the favorite to win all of their games and the tournament. Winning this tournament would keep Michigan in the national conversation, and UConn and Cal Poly will not be easy outs either. Expect to see competitive games all weekend in this tournament!

John's Prediction: Vanderbilt wins the tournament at 3-0

Kyle’s Prediction: Vanderbilt goes 3-0 and Michigan goes 2-1


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