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

NCAA Finally Addresses the Most Pressing Issue in Their Organization: Overtime

Instead of trying to fix any of the real issues going on in the NCAA, they have chosen to ignore them and are now fixing things that aren’t broken. Do they address how players are being paid? What about how some coaches are getting away with it while other are forfeiting seasons worth of wins? Nope. The ever so calculated and rational NCAA has decided that it is time for a change in the college football overtime system.

Brett McMurphy explains in this tweet:

This is the most unnecessary rule change to college football. Just so irrelevant. This only would have affected two games last year (LSU vs Texas A&M and San Jose St vs Hawaii) and only four games in the last three years. So, definitely the most pressing issue in the NCAA that desperately needed some revamping.

The only question is “why the fifth overtime?” Why was that the magical cutoff? If the reason was player safety, it would be something like the second or third over time. But let’s be real, the NCAA doesn’t care about them. Plus, the longer the game is on TV, the more money they make. It has to be about the fans. But still, why the fifth overtime? If the game gets to the fifth overtime, everyone who was going to leave has left already and everyone who is going to stay until the bitter end has already cancelled their plans for the next day.

We all just need to accept that we will never be able to please everyone when it comes to football overtime.

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

The Person Who Wins Your Bracket Challenge Pool

The NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge is the biggest scam that every sports fan falls for every single year. We get a group together and pay our dues to see who knows college basketball the best. But here is the thing about the bracket challenge though: the person who knows the most never wins. EVER.

Here are the kinds of people that win your bracket pool every year. Basically, it is anyone but you.

Mascots over Everything
No basketball analysis, no caring about seeds, no caring about players, coaches, record, etc.; just mascots. One type of person fills out their brackets based on who would win in a fight between the two mascots while the other picked UMBC because they like Golden Retrievers or UC Irvine because the nickname “anteaters” really made them laugh.

Cheryl from Accounting
Cheryl isn’t a real person, but it is the man or woman that is the quintessential example of some who is just here for a good time. They enter the office pool because it’s fun to fill out a bracket. They don’t keep up with basketball, won’t watch more than two games, you’ve even heard this person refer to basketball as “shooty-hoops”, but the worst part is that they don’t realized they are in the lead until the Final Four.

Barack Obama
Not necessarily referring to the 44th president of the United States of America, but also not not referring to him. I am talking about the homers who will blindly pick their favorite team to win the title completely disregarding all the matchups. Who do you think Obama picked? Who do you think (almost) every Kentucky fan chose. Who do you think the son of the Assistant Athletic Director of Louisville wrote in? Sad thing is, they are winning their pools.

The guy who knows nothing about sports
Ya know that one friend that always bows out of every sports debate? The guy that only states facts never opinions or tries to make a joke out of every sports argument. This the most dangerous person to enter a bracket challenge with.

Your buddy’s girlfriend
We have all been there. You have 9 people in the group, everyone puts up $10, but you want the pot to be at an even $100. One of your friends pipes up and says that his girlfriend can make one. So, she does and then runs the table. And the worst part is, it was your idea to get one more person and you finished second. That has happened to all of us, right? Anyway, I hate you, Sarah.

You’re right. This article was probably written by someone who is nowhere near first place in all 6 of the pools he entered.

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