Jan. 15, 2013


A Look Ahead to Opening Weekend


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

Phil@collegebaseballinsider.com or @roadtoomaha


We are now officially one month away from the start of the college baseball season. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Arizona was crowned national champion, but we now prepare for the quest for the best in 2013.


The top match-up has Stanford playing a three-game set at Rice, led by junior right-hander Austin Kubitza (right). While many strong teams face much weaker opponents to kick off the season, this is not the case for the Cardinal and the Owls. This series could impact these programs being a regional host or even a national seed. The teams will be meeting for the fourth straight year and the third time to open the season. Stanford took two of three at home in March this past season. Rice opened the 2011 campaign by winning two of three in Houston. The Cardinal swept the Owls in Palo Alto to begin the 2010 season. This should be a terrific series.


Another key series will have TCU traveling to Ole Miss for three contests. The Horned Frogs will play their first season in the Big 12 and a trip to Oxford will serve as great preparation for conference play.


Six of last year’s Omaha octet will open the year at home. National champ Arizona will entertain Coppin State in a three-game set. Runner-up South Carolina welcomes Liberty for three in Columbia. We’ll have a Big Ten-Pac-12 match-up in Los Angeles as UCLA will host Minnesota for a three-game set. Florida State will face Rhode Island for three in Tallahassee. Florida plays host to Duke for three. Arkansas, the top-ranked team in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll, welcomes Western Illinois for a three-game series.


The two College World Series first-timers, Kent State and Stony Brook, head south to start the season. The Golden Flashes will play in UNC Wilmington’s tournament, facing the Seahawks and Virginia Tech twice each. The Seawolves will head to southern Florida for a three-game series at FIU.


Other intriguing series on Opening Weekend include Long Beach State at Vanderbilt, Oregon at Hawaii, Tennessee at UNLV, Appalachian State at NC State, Baylor at UC Irvine, Georgia at Georgia Southern, Virginia at East Carolina, Creighton at Dallas Baptist, Nebraska at CSU Bakersfield, Bethune-Cookman at Arizona State, and San Diego State at San Diego as the Toreros open their new stadium, Fowler Park and Cunningham Field.


There will also be several interesting tournaments to start the season. A smaller Big East-Big Ten Challenge has Louisville, Connecticut, USF, Indiana and Purdue playing in Florida. Elon will host Boston College, VCU and Marist in the Country Inn & Suites Elon Invitational. The Centurylink Bobcat Invitational has Texas State entertaining Missouri State, Tulane and Sam Houston State. Nebraska will head to southern California to face USC, Cal State Fullerton and CSU Bakersfield. The Palm Springs Classic brings together Oregon State, Utah Valley, Gonzaga and UC Riverside.


(cover photo by StanfordPhoto.com, Kubitza photo courtesy of Rice Media Relations Office)