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

Steven Adams’ Butt Screen Is the Best Thing Since the Butt Fumble

We all remember where we were for the butt fumble. Thanksgiving 2012 was just an ordinary holiday. I was hiding from my family watching football when Mark Sanchez tried to hand off to no one, then ran into his own lineman’s butt resulting in an scoop-n-score for the Patriots. Uncles and cousins popped out of the woodwork asking if I had just seen what happened. Really brought us together.

No matter how old we get, butts will always be funny. Especially, when they are used in sports. Yesterday, Steven Adams gave us another play that yet again reinstated the athletic dignity of the butt with this screen.

Of course, that brick wall of a man does not even register that someone ran into him.

In terms of butt related sports plays, nothing will ever beat the butt fumble, but I would rank the Steven Adams butt screen just above when Khalil Mack butt sacked Aaron Rodgers.

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

Saturday Morning Sports Trivia, 3/16

Who would have thought that this trivia blog was going to be read by less than 1,000 people last week? Couldn’t be me. We don’t say it enough, but we love you all, especially for your minds. Be sure to like, share, retweet and repost to challenge your friends. And as always, let us know if you go 15/15.

Questions:

  1. What is the only country to play in every soccer World Cup?
  2. What NFL team appeared in 4 straight Super Bowls (1991-1994) and lost them all?
  3. What boxer gave Muhammed Ali his first ever loss in professional boxing?
  4. Who is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards?
  5. Who was the first U.S. Volleyball player to win three Olympic gold medals?
  6. What type of ball was basketball played with until 1929?
  7. During the construction of the new White Hart Lane Stadium, where is Tottenham playing their home matches?
  8. In what Olympic event did Bruce Jenner win the gold medal in 1976?
  9. Who won the 2015 Masters?
  10. What was banned in basketball from 1967 to 1976?
  11. What is the only major U.S. professional sport that does not use a clock?
  12. What soccer team did David Beckham end his career with?
  13. What city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics?
  14. What NBA great was nicknamed “the Admiral”?
  15. What NBA player broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for most consecutive triple-doubles in January 2019?

Answers:

  1. Brazil
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. Joe Frazier
  4. Emmitt Smith
  5. Karch Kiraly
  6. Soccer ball
  7. Wembley Stadium
  8. Decathlon
  9. Jordan Spieth
  10. The Slam Dunk
  11. Baseball
  12. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)
  13. Beijing
  14. David Robinson
  15. Russell Westbrook

ACC Tournament Quarterfinal Afternoon Games Prediction

North Carolina St. vs. Virginia

When: 12:30 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Virginia -11

Over/Under: 132

In their only meeting all year, NC St. took Virginia to Overtime and lost 66-65 at home. The home court advantage might have been one of the factors that played a role in their success in that game. For Virginia, they are obviously one of the best teams in the country. They have lost only two games this season and both of those were to Duke. Where Virginia has thrived, NC St. has struggled. They aren’t the most fun team to watch offensively; however, like Virginia, they are a really good defensive team. That being said, Virginia is the best defensive team in the country. If NC St. could only put of 24 points against Virginia Tech, then I don’t think that they are going to really pour it on this Virginia team. Virginia is also one the best offensive teams in the country and have plenty of weapons that can hurt you from both inside and out. I just don’t see this being much of a game from the start. Virginia is going to win this pretty handedly and it’s going to be low scoring. NC St. will struggle in the first half to score more than 30 points, and I don’t see it getting much better in the second.

Prediction: Virginia 71 – 59 North Carolina St.

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Virginia Tech vs. Florida State

When: 2:30 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Virginia Tech -1

Over/Under: 134.5

These two teams have played once this year and it was at Florida St. That game ended with FSU pulling out the victory in Overtime 73-64. That was a game in which Virginia Tech looked as though they had that game locked. They were leading for most of the game and then were outplayed by FSU in the final few minutes. Then in Overtime FSU took over, outscoring Virginia Tech 12-3.

I do not see this game following the same storyline. While FSU is a really strong team, they tend to fall back early. That being said, they tend to finish strong. I think that the key for Virginia Tech is to use their strong offense. They are one of the best shooting teams in the country. FSU will try to use their stellar defense against the strong shooters of Virginia Tech and it’ll be fun to what. However, the real difference is Virginia Tech’s defense, I think, is significantly better than FSU’s offense. While FSU is a very good offensive team, I think that Virginia Tech is just too strong on defense. This will start with Virginia Tech with an early lead going into halftime that will eventually be whittled down by FSU, but ultimately won’t get there. I think Virginia Tech wins this fight, and avenges their earlier Overtime loss at FSU, proving that they are a team to watch out for.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 70 – 67 Florida State

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm