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And The Valley Projects: March 22, 2016

Projections are late this week, but good things are often worth the wait. Get ready for the Huge Weekend!

ew.
ew.

Your brackets are trash and the Cinderellas are mostly gone. SEC play has begun and LSU is in trouble* while everybody else has a Huge Weekend™️. It's almost Easter and the weather is getting better and better. Baseball season is in full swing, and the projections go with that.

*Only maybe not really.

The Field

The National Seeds

Florida, North Carolina, Oregon State, Miami (FL), TCU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Clemson

Florida (21-1) remains hands down the best team in the nation after sweeping Missouri after beating Florida State to open SEC play. The Gator's lone loss came against fellow national seed and rival Miami (FL). HOWEVA, while Florida is undefeated at home and 3-1 against RPI 1-25, the rest of their opponents are in the 101+ category. Florida hasn't played a single team ranked between 25-100 in the RPI. But that's all the evidence I have to the contrary, and I personally believe they are the most complete team in the nation.

Unlike the basepaths at McKethan Stadium, which are incredibly middle school and tacky.

North Carolina (18-2) swept arch rival Duke in addition to Elon, Western Carolina, and a huge win over Eastern Carolina over the midweek. North Carolina earned a lot of good will by trekking across the country to play UCLA and then hosting Oklahoma State to open the year, winning five of those six games. The Tar Heels host the Georgia Tech Baseball Nerds this weekend, who are trying to save face after travelling to Tallahassee with a perfect record and leaving with a sweep.

Oregon State (16-2) swept Arizona State over the weekend, which is definitely no small matter. And the challenges don't stop rolling in for the Beavers as this week they go to Berkeley to play the team that has assumed Oklahoma State's former roles of one of the most up and down teams in the nation, Cal.

Miami (FL) (16-4) had a huge series against llvll, which the took the series in the first two games, including the 1,500th win for coach Jim Morris. And hey guess what, the Hurricanes have a big matchup this weekend too! They host fellow national seed Clemson. Keep an eye out for catcher Zack Collins, who is batting with a stupid .583 OBP and he isn't doing it with walks, as he's mashed six home runs so far this year.

You're not going to believe this, but after sweeping West Virginia, TCU (17-3) has a huge weekend too! The Horned Frogs take to Disch-Falk, which, speaking of terrible fields...

woof.

Texas A&M (19-2) split a doubleheader at Plainsman Park against Auburn before taking the series on Sunday and now host...LSU! Count the basket folks, we've got another HUGE WEEKEND. Despite taking the series, A&M gave up 27 runs to Auburn in the process. While A&M has torn up all their prior competition, there's also some evidence that an LSU team that was recently disenfranchised offensively at home against Alabama could right the ship during their spring break road trip.

South Carolina (20-2) opened SEC play with a sweep of Arkansas, extending their win streak to 10 following their dropped series with arch rivals Auburn With A Lake. For South Carolina's HUGE WEEKEND they travel to Oxford to play a dangerous Ole Miss team that's on the bubble for a national seed. The Gamecocks have two plus .500 OBP players John Jones and Dom Thompson-Williams, and are anchored in the pen with closer John Reagan who has yet to allow a run en route to securing six saves for his ballclub.

Their arch rival Clemson (17-3) is the last national seed. Since losing to Wake Forest to begin ACC play, the Tigers have gone on a eight game tear, sweeping Boston College and The Citadel including a win over Presbyterian to boot. Outfielder Seth "Someone take me to sushi and buy me a" Beer boasts a .453 average and a .544 OBP with nine home runs under the umbrella 29 hits and 25 RBIs. If you recall, the Tigers are the visitors in Miami's #HugeWeekend, which you can viewing through your viewing balls on ESPN3.

The Hosts

Ole Miss, Louisville, Florida State, UCLA, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, East Carolina

Ole Miss improved to 20-2 following their win over UT-Martin on "School Day", which was exactly as terrifying as you'd think it would be. Ole Miss lost their opening game of SEC play against Tennessee via a walk off, but rebounded to take the series. The Diamondbearz are going to have an interesting run of things in the immediate future, after hosting South Carolina they have a midweek against Memphis in Memphis before going to Starkville to play in The Mississippi Derby at Dudy Noble. After that, and maybe this is looking to the future too much, they take another midweek trip to play Southern Miss in Pearl, Mississippi before hosting Arkansas.

Louisville's record of 16-4 is through no fault of their own, for my money they have the hardest schedule in the nation. All four of their losses are contained in two series losses against a regional host in Ole Miss and a national seed in Miami (FL). Despite all of that, Kade McClure and Brendan McKay remain the best one-two punch in the nation, with McClure boasting a .86 ERA and a K/BB of 5.67 and McKay holding a 1.09 ERA and a K/BB of three straight up with 42 punchouts.

After sweeping Georgia Tech to begin conference play, Florida State (16-5) lost their huge matchup with arch rival Florida during the midweek. The Seminoles responded by taking a series from Pittsburgh, outscoring the Panthers 29-9. As of writing, FSU has taken one game from UCF in the two schools' midweek matchup before playing NC State. After their series with the Wolfpack, Florida State takes another crack at Florida in Jacksonville.

After dropping their opening series against North Carolina and then two straight against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, UCLA (11-7) used the Dodger Stadium Classic as a springboard back into the national picture, sweeping their weekend against Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and rivals USC. They lost two straight after against Cal State Northridge and Texas, taking the series from the latter before sweeping Washington State in Westwood. The Bruins are spending Good Friday in Tuscon for their series with Arizona.

Oklahoma State (14-7) had a rough go of it to start the season, with losses to UT-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin to add to their sweep of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Since then, the Cowboys have held steady, only losing the finales to their series against Indiana State and Michigan. The Pokes are fresh of a 17-0 beat down of Wichita State and start Big XII play in the Little Apple against Kansas State, a tournament bubble team.

Michigan State (14-3) getting a regional bid is less of them earning it and more of the Spartans being awarded it because of the politics of the NCAA. Without the probably best team of the B1G, there would not be a single team from the Rust Belt, which I don't think we'll see the NCAA do. The Spartans are fresh off a series loss against South Florida, their true first series of the year. Opportunities to impress me will have to wait, as they draw hapless Rutgers to start conference play.

Vanderbilt (17-4) has hit a rough patch, losing three of their last four against Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State. The Commodores travel to CoMo for a series with Mizzou before series against South Carolina and LSU, so the Vandy Boys should probably figure out what the major malfunction is before

East Carolina (14-7) responded to their series loss against Rice with a series win against Monmouth and a midweek win against Duke. The Pirates are sitting on the absolute edge of the hosting bubble, and need to virtually win out to keep that spot. After this weekend's series against Jacksonville, the Pirates host Houston to start AAC play, and a series win against the Cougars can go a long way, nearly as long as a series loss.

The Rest Of The Field

Due in part to the dropped series against Alabama, LSU fell out of hosting privileges. Instead the Tigers become a two seed in the Tallahassee Regional which is paired with Texas A&M's College Station Regional, who LSU plays this weekend. With at least two wins weekend, LSU can jump right back into the thick of things hosting wise. Hell, with a good enough weekend, LSU can swing into a national seed conversation.

Even though UCLA's Jackie Robertson has a smaller seating capacity, the berms allow for a bigger crowd, so the Los Angeles Regional is comprised of smaller schools and Texas Tech. ECU's Clark LeClair Stadium and Michigan State's McLane Stadium are larger, but both seat 3,000 or under so they also draw mostly smaller schools

The Group Of Death Of The Week is awarded to the Corvallis Regional, home of Oregon State, Nebraska (12-7), and BYU (18-2) with Seattle (11-9) constituting the four seed. The Cornhuskers started the year with six losses in the first three weekends. Since their series loss to Long Beach State, The Huskers have won 9 of their last 10 including a series win of Wichita State. BYU is the real threat in the regional from the third seat. The only thing holding the Cougars back from a two seed (or even possible hosting rights) is the fact that their schedule is garbage. Hot garbage. Like their SOS is a rancid 226 garbage. Seattle has lost five straight to Minnesota (after beating the Gophers three times), UC Irvine, and Oregon, but are in the tournament via winning the WAC.

The WAC: Still not technically dead!

That will do for round two of ATVP, next week I'll try to be more on time. Have a happy Easter, and remember,