College Baseball Conference Races Taking Shape

April 3, 2012
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A Look At Some Bigger Conferences…

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(Photo courtesy Dave Wolpert(

With a seeming blur, March is over and conference races are starting to take shape in various corners of the country. The ACC already has four conference series in the books heading into the first full weekend of the new month.

Some conferences have had just two weekends of league play, so we will hold off a bit before we look at them. Following is a snapshot of the races of four multiple-bid conferences. More coming, including looks at some “single bid” leagues in the coming weeks.

ACC

The biggest surprises of the conference so far have to be North Carolina State, Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack have surprised with how good they have been, while the Tigers and Yellow Jackets have surprised with their up and down play.

NC State’s only conference series loss came in Chapel Hill to rival North Carolina, but their series-opening 3-1 win handed UNC ace Kent Emanuel his first loss of the season.

After suffering early non-conference losses to the likes of UAB, Maine and Western Carolina, Clemson was  swept by both North Carolina and Virginia before bouncing back with a 2-1 series win over Miami over the weekend (the Tigers also swept Boston College).

Georgia Tech dropped two of three to BC last week, and just managed to take two of three from Duke over the weekend. The Jackets managed a 1-0 series-opening win over the Blue Devils, despite 12 strikeouts by Duke starter Marcus Stroman. Buck Farmer nearly matched him with 11 Ks in a complete game effort.

Maryland was an early feel good story with its season-opening series win at UCLA, but the Terps have come crashing back to earth since beginning ACC play. Maryland was swept by Wake Forest to open conference play, and has three total league against Boston College, North Carolina and Miami.

Atlantic Division

Florida St. (11-1, 24-4)
NC State (8-4, 19-7)
Wake Forest (5-7, 19-11)
Clemson (5-7, 14-13)
Boston College (4-8, 12-15)
Maryland (3-9, 18-11)

Coastal Division

North Carolina (9-3, 22-6)
Miami (8-4, 21-7)
Virginia (6-6, 18-10-1)
Georgia Tech (6-6, 18-11)
Duke (5-7, 12-17)
Virginia Tech (2-10, 18-12)

Big 12

Baylor has so far been the biggest surprise in the conference. The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll, but they are yet to lose a conference game through the first three weekends of league play. Their degree of difficulty is back loaded though. Baylor’s last three regular season Big 12 series are against preseason favorite Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas.

Texas is just four games above .500 overall, but the Longhorns are 5-1 in conference play. Texas is batting just .272 with a 3.86 staff ERA.  Texas Tech got off to a nice start in early season action, but the Red Raiders have come back to earth a bit since Big 12 play began.

Baylor (9-0, 22-7)
Texas (5-1,15-11)
Texas A&M (4-2, 22-6)
Missouri (3-3,16-11)
Oklahoma (4-5,18-11)
Kansas State (3-6,14-13)
Kansas (2-4,12-15)
Texas Tech (2-7, 16-13)
Oklahoma St. (1-5, 14-14)

Pac-12

How crazy is the Pac-12 right now? UCLA started the season by dropping two of three home games to Maryland, but is one of two teams in the conference with 20-plus wins entering April. The Bruins are tied for first place with Arizona, which just completed a huge sweep of Stanford over the weekend.

The Cardinal hadn’t lost a series all season prior to the sweep, but they reside in ninth place after the third conference weekend of the season. The first month of their season included series wins over Vanderbilt, Texas and Rice.

Oregon got off to an 11-1 start to the season, but the Ducks slumped for a couple weeks in early March before coming back to life over the weekend. They opened Pac-12 play by dropping two of three games at Washington, but got themselves back in the mix with a sweep of Arizona State over the weekend. That sets up a big series at UCLA this weekend.

Don’t overlook Washington. The Huskies dropped their series to Oregon State last week and have a chance to make a statement this weekend when they host Stanford.

UCLA (7-2, 20-5)
Arizona (7-2, 21-7)
Oregon                 (6-3, 18-8)
Oregon St. (6-3, 17-8)
Washington (3-3, 16-9)
USC (3-5, 16-9)
Washington St. (3-5, 13-11)
Arizona St. (3-6, 16-12)
Utah (3-6, 7-19)
Stanford (2-4, 16-6)
California (1-5, 16-10)

SEC

Here’s life in the SEC through three weekends of league play: Florida is still number one in most major polls, but the Gators are only second in their own division, two time defending national champion South Carolina is in fifth place in that same division with 20 overall wins and a 3-6 mark in league play, 2011 CWS team Vanderbilt is 11-17, a Tennessee team that won 25 games overall and seven in conference play already has 18 and five respective wins this year under Dave Serrano, and Kentucky opened the season with 22 straight wins – including a sweep of the Gamecocks to open SEC play – and currently leads its division.

That’s just the SEC Eastern Division.

Outside of Kentucky, possibly the biggest surprise after three conference weekend’s is Western Division leader Auburn. The Tigers have a combined five home non-conference losses to Missouri, Purdue, Southern Miss., and Belmont (17-11 overall record), but they have opened SEC play with series victories over Ole Miss, LSU and Mississippi State to sit with LSU atop their division.

Vanderbilt and Alabama are a combined 18 games under .500, while the other 10 teams in the conference are an average of nearly 13 games above the .500 mark.

Eastern Division

Kentucky (7-2, 27-2)
Florida (6-3, 24-4)
Tennessee (5-4, 18-10)
Georgia (4-5, 18-11)
South Carolina (3-6, 20-8)
Vanderbilt (3-6, 11-17)

Western Division

Auburn (6-3, 17-11)
LSU (6-3, 22-6)
Arkansas (5-4, 22-6)
Ole Miss (5-4, 20-8)
Mississippi St. (3-6, 18-11)
Alabama (1-8, 9-19)

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