Bumping this back up to squeeze it in between the basketball games - JQ.
The Kansas baseball team is in Florida this week and I don't know if they have every played as many games in as short a span of time as they have scheduled over the next five day. Wednesday at 2PM Kansas will play Illinois. About 94 hours after this game gets underway the Jayhawks should be wrapping up their final and eighth game of the trip! Eight games in less than five days.
|Central Connecticut State
|Maryland - Baltimore Co.
The preview for these games will be on the short side for a few reasons. There are too many of them! There is only so much a blogger can do. I thought of providing each team's RPI rankings and record, but in truth, by the time KU plays them so many additional games might have already been played that these rankings will be badly outdated. Bkm and I will be updating games in the comments section throughout the week, and probably carrying on some conversations at KUAthletics.com again, so best to check in these locations for starting pitchers, game results and updated information.
Media Black Hole
Sadly KU will not be sending a radio crew to Florida to cover these games. I understand from Mike Cummings the school was not sure the facilities at all the fields would support audio webcasting. If I learn of any method of following these games aside from gametracker I will pass it on.
Individual game previews below
Quick previews and Bkmhoxx' prospect reports
Illinois (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 28-27, #138)
Illinois enters today's play with a 5-5 record and an RPI of #124. I am expecting to see Shaeffer Hall get this start. Illinois is one of the better teams KU will face this weekend. The Illini will use call on Kevin Manson (1-0, 3.55 ERA).
A few others with an outside chance: Daniel Webb OF; Ryan Hastings 2B; Ben Reeser RHP; Kevin Manson RHP.
Illini in the pros: Curtis Granderson, Brian Roberts, Scott Spiezio.
Dartmouth (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 8-29, #281)
Dartmouth enters the week at 3-5 with an RPI of 230.
Central Connecticut State (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 26-26, #188)
CCSU enters the week at 2-8 with an RPI of 288. Rough start for a program that has not been awful at all during the last five years. The Blue Devils went to the NCAA tournament in 2003 and 2004 and their head coach has a record of 207-162 during his nine years at the school.
Ohio State (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 38-24, #70)
The Buckeyes are probably the most talented team the Jayhawks will face in the tournament. They were picked to challenge for the Big-10 championship this year but have gotten off to a sputtering start. They enter the week with an 8-5 record and an RPI of 120. I expect Price will throw Marciel in this game.
Buckeyes in the pros: Nick Swisher.
UMBC (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 13-40, #286)
The Retrievers were among the least competitive programs last year, and so far the RPI is showing them no additional love in 2008. That said, they do enter the week with a 5-8 record, so they are winning some games. Additionally, John Jancuska is in his 30th year as their head coach (!), and during that span has built an overall winning record of 637-616. So this might be a trap game.
UMBC in the pros: former Royal Jay Witasick.
Northwestern (2007 NCAA record and final RPI: 17-36, #210)
KU finishes the week with three games vs. the Wildcats, and this might be an interesting series. Northwestern did not perform well last year, but so far they have looked much better in 2008. They enter the week with a 4-5 record and are knocking at the Top-100 door with a RPI ranking of 104. If Northwestern plays well during the week they may come into this series with some momentum and confidence. I expect Price will use Czyz and Freeman for two of the three games in this series. The third starter is the real mystery today. Price might bring Shaeffer Hall back on short rest, or he might go all the way down to #8 on his starting pitching depth chart. That decision might not be made until game day.
Northwestern in the pros: Joe Girardi and Mark Loretta.
KU has a very good chance to rack up a nice bag of wins this week. Ohio State probably is roughly on the same level as KU and Illinois and Northwestern are decent teams, but if each of these matchups is looked at in isolation I favor the Jayhawks one through eight. If KU finishes the tournament with six wins, I will be a bit disappointed. Seven wins would cause a little excitement. A sweep is probably too much to ask for, but it is certainly possible. KU has a very deep pitching staff, an attribute which will play to their advantage in situations such as this tournament. One thing is certain, Price will be stretching his roster to the breaking point. Look for a lot of bench players to step up this week.