1. North Carolina State
National Seeding: NC State is the 16 seed in the tournament.
Player to Watch: Casey Mize. Can Mize bounce back after losses in each of his last 3 starts or is his mind on the Draft? He was sensational this year until he faced Ole Miss 3 weeks ago. Since then, he has a 6.92 ERA and given up at least 4 runs in each start.
Mize wasn’t terrible against LSU and Ole Miss to end the regular season but he wasn’t the Casey Mize Auburn fans expect to see. In each of those two games, he was dominant through 5 innings then saw his pitches flatten out as the lineup turned over for the second time.
He began missing up in the zone, telling me that he might be running low on gas. After throwing over 100 innings this year, that’s pretty understandable. With an extra day off since his last start, Auburn should expect Mize to come out and lockdown Northeastern on Friday afternoon just like he did in .
Top 3 Themes in This Regional:
1. Can Northeastern Prove their worth? ESPN and D1 Baseball have used Northeastern as the reason why Kentucky was left out of the tournament. Tuesday morning, I wrote about how those ‘analysts’ are wrong, but most will continue to use Northeastern as the easy excuse. The Huskies were 1-7 vs top 25 rpi teams this year but the lone win was against Auburn – their first round opponent this weekend. Casey Mize no-hit them on Friday and the Tigers blew Northeastern out on Saturday before losing the getaway game. Every team has a book on opponents, but these guys have experience going head-to-head.
2. Which Auburn offense will show up? This team can put up some runs and get on base about as well as anyone in this tournament. They are #2 in the SEC in runs scored and can put crooked number on the board really quick.
But they can also be shut down and tend to leave a lot of men on base. Are they the team that put up 27 and 29 runs in the series vs LSU and Vandy. Or are they the team that was held to 10 runs in the series vs Ole Miss and only 2 in the last 2 games in Hoover?
3. Can Auburn win away from Plainsman Park? Auburn has been sensational at home with a 29-6 record. Away from home has been a different story going 9-15 total. They have been swept at Arkansas and Ole Miss and lost series’ to Kentucky and Florida. The Tigers went 2-2 in Hoover proving they can win at a neutral site. They’ll need at least 3 more to move onto a Super Regional.
Auburn’s Chances To Win It: 60%. I really like them in this Regional.
Why Auburn Will Win It: I expect Casey Mize to do what he does best and that is shut down an opponent and go deep in the game. Bullpen economy is vital and there are few better than Mize in getting his team to the 8th inning
What is Success for Auburn? Winning the regional and advancing to the Super Regional. They haven’t made a Super Regional this century and advancing to the next round for a potential face-off with Florida would be a wildly successful season in Butch Thompson’s 3rd year.
SouthernCFB’s SEC Regional Previews