The Arizona Wildcats went undefeated last week but got no help in trying to catch Oregon in the Pac-12 baseball standings. This week the Ducks play outside the conference which means the UA needs no assistance to get back where it wants to be.
The only thing required is perfection.
Oregon remains in first place but UCLA continues to have the best RPI among teams Arizona has played:
|New Mex. St.||30||27||0-2|
|E. Tenn. St.||146||146||3-0|
|N. Dakota St.||177||177||2-1|
These rankings do not include Arizona’s convincing win over ASU on Wednesday so the Wildcats have a good start on another RPI-boosting week.
We had a great question on Twitter: How is Stanford considered a better hosting candidate than Arizona in some tournament projections when the Wildcats have the head-to-head sweep plus a higher perch in the Pac-12 standings? It’s just like UA and ASU basketball in 2008 when the Devils swept the season series and finished higher in the conference standings but Arizona had the better RPI, strength of schedule and “body of work” so the Cats got the tournament bid and ASU did not.
Both Arizona and Stanford are safely in the NCAA baseball tournament this year but when it comes to jockeying for hosting position some are giving the Cardinal the nod because of a superior non-conference schedule and record. If the Wildcats remain on the very edge of the hosting bubble you hope it comes down to selecting between the UA and Stanford because then the on-field results should come into play.
Speaking of Arizona and Stanford being close, here are this week’s polls:
Wait, Oregon is No. 1? And the Ducks jumped over five teams to get there? Odd poll from Collegiate Baseball. But it does give the Pac-12 its first No. 1 ranking of the season.
Arizona has pulled dead even with Stanford in average ranking which shows how close this regional race is.
Last week was all about the sweep and TWIT-Pac again has the good teams paired up with not-so-good teams. One single loss could you get passed up in the standings.
#14.2 ARIZONA (34-15 / 16-8) at USC (22-25 / 7-17)
USC has lost eight straight and has scored more than three runs just once in its last 15 conference games. If Kurt Heyer brings his A-game tonight he may not relinquish that Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award.
#11.2 UCLA (36-13 / 15-9) at Cal (26-22 / 9-15)
Think the collapse in the last Purdue game would slow down the Bruins? Nope. Five straight wins since then, all on the road.
#14.2 Stanford (33-14 / 14-10) at Utah (14-25 / 7-20)
Utah had its one shining moment on Tuesday when it snapped the 32-game win streak of Goose Kallunki and Utah Valley.
Washington (27-21 / 11-13) at #20.0 ASU (32-18 / 14-10)
These are Arizona State’s final three home games before trips to Tucson and then Sanctionville.
#22.4 OSU (33-17 / 13-11) at WSU (25-24 / 10-14)
The Beavers took two of three at Utah last week but all three games were decided by one run and two went into extra innings. Time to pick up momentum again before playing spoiler against Oregon.
Seattle (22-24) at #6.2 Oregon (38-14 / 19-8)
There will not be any one-run games in this series.
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Arizona, UCLA and Stanford are all on the road this week before finishing at home next week. Oregon has its bye week before concluding the regular season away from home.
It’s very simple for the Wildcats. If Arizona loses this series it will not win the Pac-12 (or host a regional, for that matter). If the Cats take two of three there will still be a shot at the league title heading into the final weekend. If the UA sweeps in L.A. it’s going to be a lot of fun at Hi Corbett over Memorial Day weekend.
In addition to UCLA and Stanford, here are some bonus teams to root against to help the UA end that two-decade-long regional drought:
Virginia (RPI 13) at Maryland
Texas A&M (14) at Oklahoma State
Cal State Fullerton (15) vs. UC Riverside
Rice (19) at Central Florida
Game times for the USC series are 6 p.m. today, 2 p.m. tomorrow and 1 p.m. Sunday with all three games on 1290 AM radio in Tucson.
Today’s game is for first place. If the Cats win, tomorrow’s game will be for first place. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
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