Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin Says Fontenot Pitched Like A “Warrior”

Although LSU was lost in the Super Regionals to a very good Florida State team, there was one story that the LSU faithful could hang their hats on. After Sunday’s loss, in his post game press conference, Florida State’s Hall of Fame head coach Mike Martin had some words of encouragement for the LSU fans.

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Coach Martin, who is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I college baseball history with 2,028 wins and 17 College World Series appearances had this to say about LSU reliever, Devin Fontenot,

“I know you probably won’t use it, but Fontenot, what a warrior. . . this Fontenot kid is a sophomore, I had the pleasure of talking to him and he’s gonna work hard this summer, come out and try to be better next year. He’s got a great attitude about life, and I just want to pass that along.” Coach Martin added that he’d, “take two of them every single year.”

That’s just great to hear from a legendary head coach that a young player, like Fontenot, is someone that he wanted people know played his heart out, and is someone he’d take two of them every single year. I think that is just a lot of class from a coach that just won his 17th Super Regional. He didn’t even have to mention it or say a thing, but Fontenot’s performance was so strong that he needed to say it, even if no one was listening. Coach Martin even met with Fontenot after the game to tell him in person how impressed he was with his performance that night.

That is hopefully something that Devin Fontenot will take with him for the rest of his baseball career. Fontenot entered into the game in the sixth inning, and only allowed one run and two hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out a career-high 11 batters out of 22 faced, and threw a career-high 97 pitches, which was previously 46 pitches.

What I think Fontenot told us with his performance on Sunday was that he can be a starter. He certainly proved himself to not just me, but also Coach Martin.

 

-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

Dialing up FSU and LSU’s Chances in the Super Regional

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LSU looked dominant in the Baton Rouge Regionals; they went 3-0 and won pretty handedly against Stony Brook and Southern Miss. It does seem like the offense is clicking on all cylinders, and so is the pitching. Their first game against Stony Brook really set the tone of the Regional by absolutely destroying them 17-3. Then LSU, in my opinion, handled USM easily in their second and third games, winning 8-4 and 6-4. It just never felt like the games were in doubt. Everything was just rolling the Tiger’s way. Playing at home really helped with that, and thanks to Georgia getting knocked out of the postseason, LSU gets to host the Super Regional against an old baseball powerhouse, FSU.

Although FSU wasn’t the team they usually are this season, they still played well enough to finish 6th in the ACC, and their win over NC State in the ACC Tournament was a big help in their seeding, 3 seed, in the Athens Regional. In that Athens Regional, FSU did not play like a 3 seed, however. They tore that Regional up. FSU was able to win all 3 of their games and beat the 1 seed, and number 4 national seed, Georgia twice! They didn’t just win these games though, they were able to win handedly (12-3 and 10-1). It was an absolute rout.

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In the entire Athens Regional, Florida State scored 35 runs and only allowed 11. In these games, the Seminoles hit 9 home runs and batted .375. Needless to say, Florida State is hot, but I think they going to have a rude awakening once they get to Baton Rouge and play in Alex Box Stadium. In road games this year, FSU has a record of 9-10, and history has proven that they struggle in Super Regionals away from home. Although the Seminoles have reached the Super Regionals 17 of the last 21 years, they have gone 0-5 in Super Regionals away from Tallahassee. That advantage for LSU is just too great.

No matter how hot you might think Florida State is right now, LSU is just as hot, and has just so much more talent on their team. If this were in Tallahassee then this might have a different expectation and might be a closer series, but LSU at home is just too scary for any team. We are forgetting that LSU was the preseason number 1 team this year, and they are just now starting to play like it. FSU might get one, but LSU has a great chance to win this Super Regional.

LSU in 3. Book it.

Baton Rouge Super Regional Schedule:

June 8 – 3:00 PM ET – ESPN

June 9 – 6:00 PM ET – ESPN2

June 10 – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN (If Necessary)

 

-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

What Are LSU’s Chances of Getting Out of the Baton Rouge Regional?

For the 26th time the Road to Omaha must go through Baton Rouge, LA, as LSU will once again be hosting a Regional Round of the NCAA baseball tournament. To be honest, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say this, I was surprised with just how safely LSU was as a Regional host. I think that had LSU not performed the way they did at in the SEC Tournament, we would be looking at them sitting at a 2 seed. Thank God they were able to beat Mississippi State, because that was absolutely needed. I just don’t feel that this team would be able to be successful had they been a 2 seed and not been lucky enough to play at home and be the best team in the region.

This just isn’t like every other LSU team we’ve had in the past few years. Unfortunately, they aren’t super deep, and don’t have the stellar pitching I think most LSU fans are used to seeing; however, they have proven to be scrappy. For how young they are, they have been able to prove themselves late in games and get some unbelievable wins. I also won’t dog on the pitching too much because it’s not terrible, they just don’t have the talent and depth at the position. This isn’t like we have Ben McDonald, Aaron Nola, or even Alex Lange on the mound as their ace, but when Cole Henry, Matthew Beck, and Eric Walker are on their game then I think LSU’s pitching staff is a force to be reckoned with. I also love it when Zach “Wild Thing” Hess is able to strike batters out to get us out of an inning and then he walks back to the dugout screaming and beating his chest. I think LSU’s bats can keep them in a game and win it if the bullpen is on. LSU is just so young.

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With that being said, let’s jump into the teams in the Baton Rouge Regional.

2 Arizona State (37-17, 16-13 Pac-12, 33 RPI, 87 SOS)

ASU made it into this regional as an at-large bid out of the Pac-12. The Sun Devils are a very strong offensive team. They lead the country in home runs (92); led by Hunter Bishop with 22. They also have two players, Hunter Bishop and Spencer Torkelson, who are nominated for the Golden Spikes award. However, after starting the season 21-0, the Sun Devils have taken a turn. It was a bumpy road along the way, and in their last lost 7 games they lost 5. In addition, they finished 5th in the Pac-12, and their record against the teams that finished ahead of them (UCLA, Stanford, Oregon St, and Cal) was an unimpressive 4-7. The biggest thing LSU needs to do is control ASU’s bats and I think they should be able to figure this team out. Arizona State just lacks the momentum needed to succeed going into the regionals.

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3 Southern Miss (38-19, 20-10 CUSA, 45 RPI, SOS 96)

Southern Miss was the big winner at the Conference USA tournament by securing their auto-bid. Had they not won, they might be in the same position as Louisiana Tech who did not make the tournament. Southern Miss was a pre-season top-25, but entered into the CUSA tournament as a fringe regional selection. The only other team to make it into a regional out of CUSA is FAU, who was the CUSA regular season champion, and was able to make it in as an at-large bid. The Golden Eagles’ biggest problems come from their play in the field. They have committed 81 errors on the season, and only 287 of the 512 runs they allowed were earned. I’m not so sure about that being something that can easily be fixed for this regional, and these mental mistakes should pose to be a major issue for Southern Miss going forward. I don’t expect a lot from this team as a result.

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4 Stony Brook (31-21, 15-9 America East, 138 RPI, 255 SOS)

LSU is very familiar with Stony Brook. Back in 2012 they beat LSU to win the Baton Rouge Regional, which shocked everyone. However, this team is not nearly as talented as Stony Brook’s 2012 team. This is Stony Brook’s first time back in the NCAA tournament since 2015. They were able to win the American East’s regular season and their conference tournament, but 6 of the 7 conference teams were within 4 games of each other at the end of the regular season. They were nearly as dominant as they were back in 2012; however, they were able to sweep the American East Conference Tournament to get that auto-bid. Stony Brook really hasn’t been boosted by an out of conference resumé at all, and as a result, they don’t have a lot of quality wins. However, they are one of the only teams in history to defeat LSU in a Baton Rouge Regional, so obviously they have history. I just don’t think history repeats itself this year.

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Before LSU was awarded a 1 seed, I was not confident in their ability to make it out of a regional. However, now that I know they will be playing in Alex Box Stadium in front of all the LSU fan, I’m a lot less worried. Also, after looking at all the teams, the only team that, I believe, really poses a threat to the Tigers is ASU, but they just aren’t the same team they were earlier in the season and are really dependent on their ability to hit home runs. So, we shall see what LSU is able to do with this regional, but I’m confident in their chances to advance.

The Baton Rouge Regional Schedule:

Friday, May 31

Game 1 – 1 p.m. ET – 2 Arizona State vs. 3 Southern Miss (ESPN3)

Game 2 – 7 p.m. ET – 1 LSU vs. 4 Stony Brook (ESPNU/ESPN3)

Saturday, June 1

Game 3 – 1 p.m. ET – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser (TV TBA)

Game 4 – 7 p.m. ET – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (TV TBA)

Sunday, June 2

Game 5 – 3 p.m. ET – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser (TV TBA)

Game 6 – 9 p.m. ET – Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner (TV TBA)

Monday, June 3

Game 7 – Time TBA – Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary) – TV TBA

 

– Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

The Team That Will Threaten Zion and Duke’s Hopes of a National Title

The East region of the NCAA March Madness might be the toughest. With the top 4 teams making it to the Sweet 16 (Duke, Michigan State, LSU, Virginia Tech), it honestly could be a toss-up for which team will make it out of there. We all know what the majority is saying though: Duke can’t lose. Duke with Zion Williamson is destined to win the National Championship this year, because no one could possibly stop him. Well, what if I told you there was a team in the East region that could threaten Zion and Duke’s hopes of making it to even the Final Four? No, this isn’t a 30/30, but it is something that is just as thought provoking. That team isn’t Michigan State or Virginia Tech, but rather the LSU Tigers.

I know what you’re thinking, “No way! LSU doesn’t have a head coach and they lost to Florida twice this year!” Just hear me out. Let me address the teams abilities first. So, LSU might be one of the most talented, athletic, and long teams in the country. They have both size and speed. Tremont Waters has established himself as one of the most talented point guards in the country; Skylar Mays has given the team the needed leadership and shooting ability that they desperately needed all year; Javonte Smart has emerged as one of the great young talents in college basketball with his new found confidence; Kavell Bigby-Williams is one of the only seniors on the team, but he has been the perfect 6’11” 250 lbs center that the team has needed; finally, the absolute freak of nature himself Naz Reid. Naz is scary good. He can eat you up down low or pop it from three. LSU is also a deep team with guys like Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, and Darius Days. All of these guys help make LSU one of the best teams in the country.

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So then what are they so great at aside from having absolute athletes on their team? They can beat on both offense and defense. Where they might struggle from behind the three, they are one of the nationals leaders in offensive rebounding. When they get that ball down low in the paint they are almost automatic. They don’t get blocked often either. The fact that they spend a lot of time in the paint, LSU spends a lot of time at the free throw line. This is where they have had a lot of success this year averaging roughly 75%. On defense, they are lockdown. They are one of the nationals leaders in steals and blocks. It is very hard to get the shots you want against this very long and athletic team. One of LSU’s biggest struggles is following asleep on defense when the shot clock get to about 10 seconds, and also becoming too conservative on offense. They have a knack for letting teams back into the game because they try to park the bus and it never works for them. So, I think that those are one of the only things that you can do to take advantage of this team.

Next, addressing the Will Wade situation. Yes, I know that it is difficult to be successful when you don’t have your commander in chief, the guy that has led this team all season; however, they have still played very well. People forget, Tony Benford has been with the team all year. It is not like this guy has just randomly stepped in to take over a team that he knows nothing about. These players trust him to lead the team in Wade’s absence and can use this “Us Against the World” mentality to their advantage. No one has given them a look all tournament. I mean, they were one of the potential upsets in the first round. They’re playing great basketball, and have all the talent they need.

Obviously, for LSU to play Duke then both teams would have to make it to the Elite Eight. This is entirely possible. I think that these Sweet Sixteen match-ups (Duke – Virginia Tech and Michigan State – LSU) are going to be really fun. I just have never had confidence in Michigan State all year, and Virginia Tech has a very tough task ahead of them. Anything is possible come tournament time. That is why they call it March Madness, so that is yet to be seen. However, if LSU and Duke do play then I think LSU can have a lot of success against Duke.

Duke may have 3 of the top 10 NBA prospects in college basketball on their team with Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish, but that doesn’t mean that they are unbeatable. As we have seen throughout this year, Duke has struggled in some major scoring areas, mainly from behind the three. Duke might be the worst three point percentage shooting team in all of college basketball. That is not a joke. Their three point percentage is just above 30% (30.7%). That is atrocious. That is 329th/353 teams in college basketball. Yikes. They also don’t make their free throws, which is a cause for concern. Leaving points at the line can cost a team a game, and it almost happened to Duke versus UCF on Sunday. Zion missed the game tying free throw and luckily for Duke RJ Barrett was there to get the offensive rebound and make the layup. That could have been a completely different outcome had Tacko Fall not fouled out when he fouled Zion on that last play.

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The size and speed of LSU, coupled with their raw talent, would be something that Duke has not seen yet in this tournament. They may get a little of that against Virginia Tech, but LSU is a different animal. UCF was a challenge to Duke because of their ability to guard within the paint. That was something that forced Duke to shoot outside shots, which they cannot shoot well.

So, if LSU and Duke meet in the Elite Eight, look for the upset. LSU will control the paint and keep Duke from getting what they want inside and be forced to shoot threes. Duke is on upset watch. You heard it hear first.

Just a reminder that the last time LSU and Duke faced off during March Madness, the Glen “Big Baby” Davis led LSU Tigers beat number 1 Seed JJ Redick led Duke Blue Devils to advance to the Elite Eight back in 2006.

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

ACC Tournament Final Prediction

First of all, this has been a really fun ACC Tournament. A lot of fun games. I have been tremendously surprised by the play of Florida State. I didn’t even think they would make it past Virginia Tech, much less Virginia. So that being said, let’s drive right into this championship game.

Florida State vs. Duke

When: 8:30 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Duke -8

Over/Under: 146.5

The only other time these teams met this year, it was a shootout. Duke ended up winning the thriller at Florida State 80-78. Duke still has more to show in this ACC tournament. Last night’s win over their biggest rival, North Carolina, was exhausting and full of emotion. I think that it might have taken a lot out of some of these guys, but now they have this confidence they didn’t have before the tournament. Duke has now gotten over the hurdle of beating North Carolina this season. If this were the regular season and they were playing at Florida State, then some might say that Duke is due for a letdown game. I don’t see that happening in this ACC Tournament final though.

That being said, Florida State has impressed me immensely. They have really made me eat my words time and time again in this tournament. I am shocked with the level of play they have had so far. I think that they can really carry their level of shooting and defensive abilities throughout the tournament into this game. As much as I’m going to hate saying this, Duke is just a much better team. I know I have been picking against Florida State all tournament long, but the addition of Zion Williamson back into the lineup has proven to be so effective. It is true how good Zion really is. I don’t think anyone in the country can have an answer for him. However, some credit for Florida State, I think that they are going to beat the spread. That’s a big spread for a conference championship game. This will be fun to watch and a close game throughout. Duke will be your 2019 ACC Tournament Champions.

Prediction: Duke 77 – 71 Florida State

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

ACC Tournament Semifinal Game Predictions

Florida State vs. Virginia

When: 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Virginia -9

Over/Under: 124.5

The teams have had one meeting earlier this year in which Virginia was able to best Florida State 65-52. That game was all Virginia. There was no doubt from the start, that Florida State was going to lose that game. Florida State is a different team now, though. We’ve talked about it before, we all know how good Virginia’s defense is. However, so is Florida State’s. Florida State is long and can really cause teams to struggle scoring down low. Although, they are one of the better teams guarding in the paint, they still struggle defending the three which is Virginia’s strong suit on offense. Virginia is prolific from three point range with Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. That could pose an issue for Florida State defensively. On the offensive end for Florida State, they have been playing really good basketball. They shocked me yesterday with how prolific their offense was against Virginia Tech. However, they probably won’t have as much success against a much better defensive team like Virginia. Virginia should win this one in a closer game than last time, but still just out of reach.

Prediction: Virginia 69 – 59 Florida State

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Duke vs. North Carolina

When: 9:00 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Duke -3.5

Over/Under: 164.5

This is the game everyone has been waiting for. This will be, hopefully, the first full Duke/North Carolina game in which Zion Williamson plays the whole game. Zion went out in their first meeting where he suffered a Grade 1 knee sprain 36 seconds into the game after his foot ripped through his shoe, causing him to slip. He did not return to that game and North Carolina ended up winning 88–72. You and I both know that he is coming back with vengeance. There is no way to evaluate the two times these teams have played this year as a benchmark for this game because Zion didn’t play hardly at all in either of them (36 seconds total). This will be a completely different feel and as much as I don’t want to jump to conclusions, I think Zion is going to make it his personal mission to absolutely destroy North Carolina tonight. I think that -3.5 might be too easy. Duke wins this one handedly.

Prediction: Duke 83 – 78 North Carolina

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

ACC Tournament Quarterfinal Evening Game Predictions

Louisville vs. North Carolina

When: 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: North Carolina -7.5

Over/Under: 150

The Cards and Tar Heels split their season series 1-1. The first game they played, Louisville absolutely bitch slapped them, 83-62, at UNC. The second game, the Tar Heels got their revenge in the KFC Yum! Center, 79-69. As much as I want to say that the Cards can win this game, I don’t see them beating this UNC team twice. North Carolina is playing really, really strong right now. They are peaking at this time of the year. They have won 7 in a row with two of those games against Duke. In that stretch the least amount of points they scored was 77 against Florida St. So, Louisville is really going to have to use their good defense to force North Carolina into tough shots.

If the Cards can force them to miss shots then they might have a chance, but their offense will have to be on too. If Jordan Nwora makes his shots and they limit their turnovers, which will be tough, their is a chance. However, I think that is too much to ask, and I don’t think that it will work completely for the Cards. It may be a close game, but I don’t see anything good about this game for the Cards.

Prediction: North Carolina 79 – 74 Louisville

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Syracuse vs. Duke

When: 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Duke -11.5

Over/Under: 144

Duke and Syracuse split their season series 1-1. The first game Duke lost in Overtime 95-91 at home, and the the second game Duke handled Syracuse pretty easily, 75-65 at Syracuse. With Zion Williamson coming back for the tournament, fully healthy, Duke has their X factor back. Zion is the biggest game changer. His absence is the sole reason for their slide at the end of the season. He didn’t play because he wanted to become fully healthy and that is what Duke is going to get, a healthy Zion. That is scary. Zion, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish are going to be firing on all cylinders. That offense is going to be on and it will not let up. Syracuse may have a decent defense, but I’m not sure. Duke is not Pittsburgh. Duke is a different animal. I think think that this will probably be Zion’s “hey, remember me” game. Duke is going to roll.

Prediction: Duke 81 – 68 – Syracuse

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm