The schedule for Friday looks like this:
Illinois @ # 1 LSU
Indiana @ Georgia Southern (Eagle Invitational)
Iowa @ Austin Peay
# 28 Michigan vs. Siena (Port St. Lucie, FL)
Michigan State vs. Georgia State (Daytona Beach, FL)
Illinois State @ Minnesota (Metrodome Tournament)
Northwestern @ Kansas
# 25 Ohio State vs. Rhode Island (Winter Haven Tournament)
Purdue @ Texas State
(Of course, presumes that nothing has changed since I compiled my own composite schedule a while back.)
That first game really sticks out. Number one Louisiana State is hosting Illinois. The Illini staff spent last week looking like one of the best in the land. (Here are the stats from their Ogletree Classic triumph: 0.67 ERA, 3-0, 27 IP, 18 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 16 K, .186 b/avg.) However, these Tigers are another animal altogether. We can't expect the Blue and Orange hurlers to repeat that in Baton Rouge, but it will be an interesting series to watch.
A game that got a bit more appealing is # 25 Ohio State's game versus Rhode Island. Those Rammies gave big, bad # 9 Miami a healthy serving of humble pie with a 3-0 win. Junior Eric Smith tossed eight shutout innings of two-hit baseball. The RI folks are calling it, perhaps, the biggest win in school history. Rhody, we salute you. OSU, take note. You just climbed into the polls, now is not the time to fall. Is Coach Todd's nine back to "small ball" this weekend or is it week two of "Buckeye longball"?
I thought # 28 Michigan was going to kiss their national ranking, bye-bye after a .500 weekend. Yet, those pesky Wolverines (or those pesky voters) refused to bow out of the polls. It's Siena this weekend. I'm tempted to say UM had best sweep to keep a number in front of their name, but who can tell? So, Ann Arborites, which Michigan team do we get this weekend? The strong pitching team from the opening weekend or the redhot bats from week two?
Don't look now, but Minnesota is starting to draw some national attention. (Illinois deserves some too, but that's another story.) They've got another home dome tournament this weekend. On the surface, this one doesn't have quite the same level of competition as the Dairy Queen Classic, but Minnesota's horribly young and that often leads to bumpy patches.
Many of the remaining teams could really use a W or two. Austin Peay is no place to start a winning streak, but that's Iowa challenge. For an IU side that dropped a pair of midweek contests, I'm not sure Georgia Southern is the opponent you are hoping for. NU gets the task of visiting Big XII country. MSU is hoping to succesfully close out games and Purdue is still looking for the right mix, both in the lineup and on the mound.
You have my permission to start the weekend immediately. Tell your boss or professor I said it was okay. (Married folk, explaining your absence from work to your spouse is all on you.)