I am starting work on the Better Know Your Opponent for UC-Irvine, but I won't be spoiling anything by giving you the basic gist.
Mascot: Extraordinarily awesome (Anteaters)
In the meantime, ESPN did a nice feature on the Eaters , which you should check out right now.
"I think it's probably about as challenging as it could possibly be," said Gillespie. "They are, after all, literally, the hottest team in the country. They have been for the past month now. It's a very partisan crowd, but I think our guys will love it.
"They won last year at Texas, at Wichita and did well at Omaha [at the College World Series], so they've had a little taste of it. … Their attitude will be 'Let's do it again.'"
Gillespie knows a thing or two about reading players. During his 20 years at USC, the Trojans made five College World Series appearances and won the 1998 championship.
There's some good stuff in there, and Gillespe is a legitimately great coach. He was great at USC, even if he did once try to beat up an LSU fan during a regional. And he's been great at UC-Irvine. This isn't some fluke team.
And look at some of those places they've won. They won at Texas. They won at Wichita. They won at Lincoln. All on the road in the NCAA tournament. These guys haven't lost a regional or super regional game in two years. they aren't a fluke. they are really good.
They play small ball, which is going to give me a chance to rant about how not to build an offense insetad of how not to manage a pitching staff. If you want the quick indictiment of small ball, it is this: UCI has a higher batting average and OBP than LSU. So, essentially, they have more baserunners to drive in. They steal bases, but at essentially the same level as LSU (in fact, LSU is slightly better). So the only variable is power. LSU hit 53 more homers, sacrificed 51 less times.
LSU scored 153 more runs. Advantage: Gorilla Ball.
UCI is a very good team. They have an amazing rotation. But their offense is not anywhere near as good as LSU's. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The goal of an offense is simple: score runs. LSU is better at it.