You never want to miss Arizona vs. ASU.
Photo by Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

There’s a huge game coming up for the Arizona Wildcats. And it’s too bad.

The UA baseball team starts Pac-10 play with its only weekend series of the year against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Didn’t know about it? That’s not your fault. Blame the schedule.

Wildcat Universe is 100% focused on the basketball team facing Duke in the Sweet 16. That’s the way it should be. It’s a big event made even bigger since this is the first dance with Sean Miller.

But in college baseball, ASU is Duke (minus the recent national championships, of course). This is the biggest series on the UA’s schedule. Why put it on the first weekend? You don’t serve dessert first.

It’s not just the Cats and Devils getting shafted. UCLA and USC are also facing each other this weekend, which is equally horrible. You wouldn’t have the Bruins and Trojans squaring off on the football field in September.

The rivalry matchups don’t have to be the final series (ASU/UCLA is scheduled for the final weekend this year which makes a lot of sense) but definitely put them in the final month. Have some storylines build up and see what’s at stake for both teams.

I know college baseball is a non-revenue sport that is barely a blip on the sports radar. But don’t lessen the biggest regular season series of the year – rivalry weekend – for those who care about the sport the most.

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Yes, Pac-10 play is here (Washington State at Cal is the third conference series this weekend). So who’s good this year, anyway? Here’s where the Pac sits in the five main college baseball polls:

Team BAS COL NAT PER USA Average
ASU 6 5 4 7 8 6.0
ARIZONA 15 17 16 17 16 16.2
Stanford 12 18 20 12 23 17.0
UCLA 24 14 18 21 21 19.6
Cal 16 29 25 16 25 22.2
OSU 23 26 26 24 22 24.2
Oregon 30 24 29.4

BAS = Baseball America
COL = Collegiate Baseball
NAT = National Collegiate Baseball Writers
PER = Perfect Game
USA = USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll

UCLA is ranked based on last year (and their draft status), not their performance to date. The Bruins made the CWS championship series last season and feature two 1st-round picks in their starting rotation, but they’ve only posted a 9-7 record to date. How can this be? They can’t hit. Can UCLA turn it around traveling across town to face the Trojans?

History shows that no more than two Pac-10 teams are going to host regionals. The rankings say Arizona has a shot this year, and the odds go up since ASU cheated itself out of the postseason. Lots at stake for the Cats right out of the gate.

The UA is feeling a lot better about itself with the return of Steve Selsky from a broken hand. The junior slugger saw his first action of the year this past week and hit two home runs against San Francisco (instantly tying him for second on the team).

Selsky said he doesn’t quite have his timing all the way back as he’s missing pitches he feels he should handle. “It’s close though,” he said. “It’s really close.”

Looking forward to Pac-10 play Selsky expects the team to score some runs. “We’re a good offensive team,” he said. “Our walk-to-strikeout ratio is pretty good as a team.”

When asked what the team can improve he challenged the guys on the mound. “If we don’t walk people,” Selsky said, “I feel like we should be in every game we play. It doesn’t matter who we play.”

Selsky didn’t specifically mention the bullpen but I will. The UA’s starting pitchers left the game with the lead in three of the team’s five losses. Two of those evaporated leads came in the 7th inning or later.

It’s the main question for Arizona as the games get tougher. Can the starters go deep enough to lessen the bullpen’s exposure? Can the relievers get the pressure-packed outs to close out game?

The polls say the Cats and Devils are the two best teams in the league. This weekend’s series is mighty large, even if it’s being played at the wrong time.

Enjoy the basketball game and everything that goes along with it. But don’t forget to save room for dessert.

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Scott Terrell loves both hoops and hardball. Dunk and run on Twitter and Facebook.