Your TWIT-Pac is back to preview all of this week’s Pac-10 baseball action including the high-profile showdown between the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins.
But first, I discussed this in Wednesday’s comments but it’s a good question so I wanted to go into it a bit more. Seth asked, “Why was (Tuesday’s UA/ASU game) considered a non-conference game?”
How can you play a regular season game against a team from your conference without having it count in the league standings? It’s one of those oddities that make college baseball special. Each Pac-10 team plays a three-game weekend series against each of the other nine teams for a total of 27 official conference games. Outside of that you can play anyone you want to fill out your schedule (56 total games) but the extra games don’t factor into the Pac-10 championship race.
This year’s Arizona/Arizona State conference series will be in Tucson (May 15-17) so the two schools scheduled a couple games in Tempe (the second one will be Tue. May 4). Last year’s Pac-10 series was at ASU so the Wildcats got to host two non-conference games with the Devils.
So what’s the point? Why would you play a team you’re already going to face later in the year? For one it reduces your travel costs, which is always a factor in a non-revenue college sport. Along the same lines it lets you sell a few extra tickets in the years when you don’t get to host the conference series. It also gives you another couple games against good competition instead of having to fly in another Utah Valley or Northern Illinois.
But the main reason you play the extra games is to feed the good-old-fashioned rivalry fires. Three games just aren’t enough against the team you most want to beat, and the games certainly count in the all-time head-to-head record.
Which, by the way, now stands at 232-195-1 in favor of the Wildcats.
On to the weekend that will be!
(The rankings are the average of the five college baseball polls.)
#19.0 Cal (23-11 / 8-4) at #27.2 Stanford (18-13 / 7-5)
The Cardinal went from losing five straight (and seven of eight) to winning five straight, including an impressive sweep in Corvallis last weekend. The Bears are either going to come back to earth or they’ll prove they’re for real.
#26.2 OSU (20-11 / 3-6) at WSU (19-14 / 3-6)
Two teams coming off the wrong end of a weekend sweep are in desperate need of some wins. These will be the Cougars’ first games since the stunning 9th-inning defeat at Arizona.
#6.2 UCLA (27-6 / 5-4) at #16.6 ARIZONA (27-9 / 7-5)
The series of the week. Currently sitting in 5th place, the Bruins look to leapfrog some people before their showdown with ASU next week. The Wildcats hope to maintain the momentum they’ve regained after being swept at Cal (7-1 since, including the last six in a row).
USC (16-20 / 2-10) at #23.0 Oregon (25-12 / 6-6)
The Ducks lost two Pac-10 series then won two Pac-10 series. The Trojans have lost seven consecutive conference games.
Washington (19-16 / 4-5) at #1.0 ASU (31-4 / 9-3)
It’s already been a horrible week for the Sun Devils. It’s not often you lose 45 games in two days.
With top-ten UCLA coming to town the Wildcats didn’t have long to celebrate their big midweek victory. Can the young Cats continue to out-play their collective age?
If you look at the rankings UCLA is the solid favorite. But if you look at the conference standings, and the UA’s home record, and the Bruins’ last 11 games, you have to think the Cats like their chances.
Last week the three teams that were tied for 7th in the Pac-10 all won their series, beating the 3rd place team and two of the teams tied for 4th. In this conference you have to prove yourself every week.
Especially when the games count in the standings.