Tiger Bait Baseball Recap: Week of 3/28/13

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

A look at how LSU's scheduled opponents are faring two weeks into conference play

LSU is obviously in great shape right now with a 23-2 record, #4 national ranking according to Baseball America (the one I like to use) and a #2 RPI according to both Boyd's World and Warren Nolan's rankings. Those RPI rankings are a bit unexpected because LSU's non conference scheduled looked pretty "bleh" prior to the season. However, LSU has a very respectable strength of schedule ranking of #41. That will only improve as LSU goes through conference play.

Non-Conference

Maryland was thought to be a relatively weak season opening opponent for LSU. However since getting swept by LSU to start the season, the Terps have gone a somewhat respectable 14-7 and have a decent RPI of #66. They are just 3-6 in the ACC, but they've had to face national heavyweights Florida State and Virginia.

BYU has the rare distinction of having defeated LSU this year when the two teams split a pair of games in mid February. The Cougs don't have a great record at just 11-13, but their RPI is a respectable 43rd. They have a nice series win over UC-Irvine. They seem like a team with enough juice to beat just about anyone with the right guy on the hill, but just don't have the depth to be really good, consistently.

One team that beat BYU twice was Southeastern and LSU defeated them pretty handily that same weekend. The Lions are not bad though. They're 18-8 with a RPI of #50. They split a pair of games with Tulane and let Ole Miss beat them twice.

Brown gave all LSU they wanted in one game, but the Tigers ultimately took two from them. They haven't done so hot since then. They're 2-11 overall.

Remember when LSU swept Washington rather easily? The Huskies are struggling. They're 6-16 with a RPI of #127. They did take two of three from SoCal this past weekend though.

As for some of the other in-state programs that LSU has defeated...Nicholls St. has just been OK, even by their standards, but they did beat Tulane. ULL has a somewhat impressive 18-6 record and #36 RPI despite getting housed in Alex Box Stadium. Northwestern State, who took LSU to 13 innings, is struggling otherwise at 9-18. And Tulane? They're 14-13 with a RPI of #90. And in the most "please let a meteor hit" matchup possible, they took a series from Alabama in Tuscaloosa. LSU gets Tulane at the Box on April 24.

The SEC

Mississippi State

After losing the opening conference series to LSU, Mississippi State had to travel to Kentucky where they suffered the same fate...losing two of three. Despite the 2-4 conference record, the Bulldogs are still 22-6 overall, ranked #25 and have a RPI of #17. Things don't get much easier for them this weekend, as they're traveling to Arkansas.

Auburn

Auburn is probably not as bad as their 0-6 conference record indicates. They're 15-10 overall with a RPI at #67. All things considered, that's not too bad. They just had the misfortune of starting their conference schedule with Vanderbilt and LSU. Earlier in the year, they beat Alabama in a mid-week "non conference" game. However, Troy beat them 11-2 on Tuesday night, so they're definitely trending in the wrong direction. They host Alabama this weekend.

Missouri

LSU's next opponent, Missouri, has not been terribly impressive this year. They were swept by both Southern Miss and Memphis to start the season but have improved....slightly since then. They have managed to beat South Carolina and Tennessee on Sunday of each of their first two conference series for a 2-4 SEC record. Overall, they're 8-12 with a RPI of nearly #200. If the chilly weather doesn't mess with their head, then LSU has a great opportunity for two or three more conference wins this weekend.

Kentucky

Somewhat quietly within the conference, Kentucky is ranked in the Top-10 and has a 4-2 conference record, winning series against Florida and Mississippi State. They should pad their record again this weekend as lowly Georgia comes to town. But then, it's off to Baton Rouge.

Arkansas

Arkansas started the season off very hot, finding their way to the very top of the national rankings for a while. They were brought down to Earth a bit on a road trip out west when they lost twice to Arizona State and once to Gonzaga. They started conference play with two pretty difficult teams in Ole Miss and South Carolina, but they won four of those six and host a Mississippi State team this weekend who has their backs against the wall.

Alabama

The Crimson Tide didn't look all that hot earlier this season, but all of a sudden, they're 5-1 in the conference and tied with LSU, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt for the SEC lead. Those five wins came against two of the league's weakest teams in Georgia and Tennessee, but the team seems to be playing with some confidence right now. They go to Auburn this weekend, and then their schedule gets a lot tougher.

South Carolina

South Carolina was off to their typical, excellent start. They won a series against Clemson and had just two losses entering conference play. After a fairly ordinary series win at Missouri to start the season, they were shockingly swept by Arkansas at home this past weekend. The Gamecocks started last season off very slow as well before finding their groove, so I doubt they're worried much. They host Texas A&M this weekend, and we'll see if they can shake off that sweep from last week.


Florida

What in the world has happened to Florida this year? They have struggled and have a shockingly bad 11-15 overall record. They were swept at home by Florida Gulf Coast (DUNK CITY!). They lost a series to Indiana and have started conference play 2-4, albeit against quality opponents Vanderbilt and Kentucky. They host Ole Miss this weekend, so let's hope they right the ship a little bit. Despite their record, their strength of schedule is ranked #1 in the nation, and their RPI is holding at #28. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this team find their groove and be real trouble later by the time they visit Alex Box Stadium.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M will be interesting to watch all year. Historically one of the elite programs from the Big-12, we'll now see how they stack up in their inaugural season in the SEC. So far, so good. They're unranked, but have a solid 18-8 record and 5-1 conference mark. They go to South Carolina this weekend and could get knocked back to Earth a bit.

Ole Miss

Lastly, there is Ole Miss. They were off to a very hot start this season and looked like one of the better teams in the conference. Impressively, they went to Arkansas to open the conference schedule and won the series. But they followed that up by returning home to lose the series to A&M. This weekend, they travel to Florida. They are ranked #11 nationally with a RPI of #10 and their 21-4 overall record looks impressive, despite their 3-3 conference mark. Ole Miss boasts the SEC's leading hitter in Stuart Turner.

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