Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Season Preview (Part 3)

If Auburn is going to make it to Hoover this season, it will face a tough task. The Tigers will face 7 teams (out of 24) who will start the season ranked in the NCBWA Fabulous 40:

  • LSU (2)
  • Arizona St (5)
  • Ole Miss (22)
  • Arkansas (23)
  • South Carolina (28)
  • Georgia (31)
  • Vanderbilt (32)

That doesn’t include teams like Boston College, Alabama, Missouri, Troy, Georgia State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi State

In other words 60% of Auburn’s schedule is getting some sort of National Consideration.

Most of these teams are battle tested too, and have NCAA Tourney Experience.

They’ll face the defending National Champs in LSU (and 2 other CWS teams in Arizona State and Arkansas)

10 Different Teams on Auburn’s schedule made it the big dance last year:

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Boston College, Georgia, Georgia State, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

To say it will be a tough schedule will be an understatement.

The good news? Just like last year when Auburn was able to avoid a series with one of the hottest teams in the country (Georgia), they’ll get to miss Florida this season. Great news for the Tigers actually. Florida will start the year ranked #9 and build off their Super Regional team. The only way Auburn will have to meet them is in Hoover.


THE THREE SEASON SCHEDULE:


The easiest way to look at the schedule is to look at it as 3 separate seasons: The Season opener against SEMO until Arizona State (The Tune UP); Alabama A&M until the LSU series (Murderer’s Row); and Vandy until the end of the season (The Home stretch)



THE TUNE UP:

Auburn really couldn’t have scheduled any better to start the season. SEMO and Miami (OH) are decent, but not great teams. A far cry from last year and scheduling a tough Elon team. That second weekend “series” will be great for Auburn. Mizzou, BC, and FAU will be like a mini NCAA regional for the Tigers. It will be like playoff baseball in February. We’ll get the midweek tune up games (Appy State and Davidson) the Cap City Classic (which I’d highly recommend going to) before a HUGE test for the Tigers, when they travel to Arizona State. If the Tigers can roll into Tempe with a 13-0 (or at worse 11-2) and can take at least a game from the SunDevils then I’d consider that a success.



MURDERER’S ROW:

Here’s where it gets tough for the Tigers: UGA, Carolina, Alabama and LSU. The toughest stretch for the Tigers. All are tough tasks. If Auburn can just avoid getting swept in any of these series then they can limp into the homestretch to try to catch up ground.



THE HOME STRETCH:

This will be the most crucial stretch for Auburn. After LSU, the Orange and Blue will get a full week’s rest before facing Vanderbilt. UT, MSU, and Kentucky should all be winnable series. Arkansas and Ole Miss could shake out to be the series that will make or break the Tiger’s chances to get to Hoover.



THE BOTTOM LINE:

It boils down to this: Win Early, Don’t get Swept late. Last Year, Auburn could have snuck into the NCAA if we could have avoided getting swept by LSU and Ole Miss. The Tigers will need to pad their wins early and pick up games here or there down the stretch. Granted, the difference between Hoover and sitting at home again will be stealing some of these series (Against Carolina and Arkansas particularly).



KEY SERIES:

Arizona State – A huge road and national test for the Tigers

Alabama – A winnable series that could bolster Auburn’s confidence

LSU- A HUGE home series. If Auburn can take this, then we’ve truly arrived

Ole Miss – Depending on how the season shakes out, this will be the ultimate do-or-die series for Auburn.

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