After fighting its way out of the loser’s bracket, Central Connecticut punched its ticket for the NCAA tournament by upsetting regular season NEC conference champion Bryant in consecutive games, both tightly contested affairs. CCSU is the kind of team that works without a net, and they came through under tough circumstances to make the field.
Take them lightly at your own peril.
Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
Conference: 21-9 (NEC, 2nd regular season)
v RPI 1-25: 0-1
v RPI 26-50: 0-0
v RPI 51-100: 4-5
This is the profile of a good team in a bad conference. Their one top 25 game was against UConn, which they lost 2-0, hardly a black mark on the resume. They showed they could hang with bigger schools and its doubtful they will be overly intimidated by the big state schools.
The big problem is we have no idea how good or how bad this team is because, well, they haven’t really played anyone who is any good. They took two of three from Stony Brook, which should reflexively make all LSU fans shudder, but the Blue Devils really haven’t had too many chances to prove it on the field.
Scott Pioli, New England Patriots executive
Ricky Bottalico, former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher
Mike Sherman, for Texas A&M head coach
Dave Campo, one of many people fired by Jerry Jones for not winning a Super Bowl
Richard Grieco, 21 Jump Street for life!
Buddy Dewaine 336/417/545
Dave Matthews 297/398/513
Jay Devito 333/500/374
Overall the team slashes 282/387/409, which is pretty great. Yes, that’s against the NEC, but come on… you can only play who you play. CCSU has shown they can rake. Dave atthews looks to be the biggest threat, as leads the team in homers (7) and stolen bases (13). A guy with a 911 OPS and plus speed is always someone you have to take seriously in the lineup.
Five of the nine starters have an OPS over 800, and I find Devito’s 500 OBP to be particularly concerning as an opponent. The key to a successful offense is not getting out and while it seems Devito provides virtually no power, he is an on base machine, and not getting outs is the most valuable skill a hitter can have. There’s no obvious scar in the lineup to exploit. There are productive hitters up and down the order, which shows a well coached team.
Andrew Braun 9-1, 3.26 ERA, 71/12 K/BB
Brandon Fox 5-5, 4.24 ERA, 57/19 K/BB
Jake Neuman 5-0, 58 saves, 1.50 ERA, 20/16 K/BB
It’s basically a two-man rotation, as the third starter, Anthony Mozzicato, is a steep drop in production, though he boasts a nice 5-2 record. Braun’s peripherals are outstanding and look like he can take on anyone. That’s the pitcher you are hoping to avoid, though Fox isn’t some pushover.
The bullpen is weird. Neuman has been incredibly productive in the role of relief ace, but that K/BB ratio is terrible for such an impressive resume. Something has to give, and we gotta hope it’s the eRA, as his free passes start to catch up with him. Honestly, I’m more impressed with the profile of Dylan Sabia, who notched 4 saves and 32.1 IP, but a healthy 30/7 K/BB ratio and a .216 opponent’s BA. He is the first option out of the pen.
CCSU doesn’t look like a pushover, but let’s also be realistic: they are a fourth seed in this regional for a reason. They lack a quality win and all of their stats are tinged by the question of Who Have You Played? I don’t know what the NEC deduction is, but I am sure one exists.
The Blue Devils look like a team that do a lot of things well, rather than one particular thing terrific. I prefer that in building a ballclub, and its how they won the NEC tournament, but once you step up in level of competition, it means they wont have any leverage. Sometimes, a low seed can do one thing really well, so much so they have the advantage in that skill over the higher seeds. CCSU is not like that. They want to beat you straight up and at the end of the day, they don’t have the same talent the big schools have.
They are not an easy out and if a team doesn’t show up, they will get upset. CCSU also boasts two elite relievers, which will allow them to slam the door if they are protecting a lead. Two and ‘que is the most likely outcome, but it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see them pull off an upset and make it to Sunday. Winning the region is probably too high of an ask, but they could ruin someone’s postseason. Let’s hope it’s Oregon’s and not ours.