Friday College Baseball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our 3 Best Bets, Including Texas vs. Tennessee, UC Irvine vs. Oregon State
John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: David Pierce
- The Milwaukee Bucks travel to Chicago to catch the Bulls on the second leg of a back-to-back.
- The Bucks have dominated the first quarter this season, while the Bulls have not found their footing early in games.
- Austin Wang explains what that means for Friday night's matchup.
Everyone may be gearing up for March Madness, but if you have tuned into the diamond instead of the hardcourt, you would know that the madness has already begun. Over the last week, we saw ranked teams lose to unranked opponents 27 times.
Upsets are here to stay, but this weekend is all about the marquee matchups. First, we have the Shriner’s College Classic in Houston. Oh boy, what group we have there:
- No. 1 Texas
- No. 7 LSU
- No. 17 Tennessee
Seeing Texas’ pitching staff go up against the bats of LSU and Tennessee is going to beat treat. UCLA and Baylor cannot be slept on, either, as they each have proven to be uber-talented programs in their own right.
We also have a three-game series between No. 14 Florida and No. 22 Miami. This storied rivalry will be taken up another notch by the pitching of each of these clubs. The Hurricanes have a collective 2.25 team ERA, which ranks 21st, and the Gators are right behind them in 23rd with a 2.30 team ERA.
But wait, there’s more. We also get another in-state rivalry as No. 15 Georgia takes on the No. 18 Georgia Tech. In contrast to the Florida series, runs may be flowing throughout the weekend here as the Yellow Jackets are 13th in the country with a .342 team batting average, while the Bulldogs are 33rd at .313.
If all that top-tier baseball doesn’t get you pumped enough, I have three best bets for Friday night that should do the trick.
No. 17 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Texas, 8 p.m. ET
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and I would have to agree, judging by this matchup. This may be a neutral-site tournament, but the Longhorns have a clear home-field advantage at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Longhorn faithful will have plenty to be excited about as they have their ace, Pete Hansen, pitted against the fourth-best offense in the country. The old adage that good pitching beats good hitting should hold true here. Hansen has been lights-out this season. In two starts, he has not allowed a run and struck out 16 batters over 11 innings of work.
Pete Hansen came to play today. In 5 innings, he allowed 4 hits and no runs with 8 K.
The pitching duel continues on LHN. pic.twitter.com/E18cG1HUfy
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) February 26, 2022
Hansen will be forced to deal with Tennessee’s Trey Lipscomb, who is hitting .786 with three homers and 16 RBI this week alone. The Longhorns’ pitching staff goes deeper than Hansen, however. They have a 0.67 ERA staff ERA, and the bullpen combo of Aaron Nixon and Luke Harrison at the back-end have combined to save three games and strike out 11 guys in 10 innings.
The Vols’ pitching staff deserves some spotlight, too. They are right behind the Longhorns in team ERA at just 0.90 for the year. Their starter in this one, Chase Burns, has also yet to allow a run this season. Burns has electric stuff with a fastball that sits in the mid- to upper-90s and tops out at triple-digits. He will also be facing his toughest test in a Texas lineup that has three preseason first-team All-Americans.
Tennessee is a formidable club, but this is a high-profile “road” game in which the Vols will send a true freshman to the mound, and we know the Longhorns can hit fastballs. Back the Longhorns to prove why they’re the No. 1 team in the country.
Pick: Texas -105 ML
No. 14 Florida vs. No. 22 Miami, 7 p.m. ET
You’re going to see a familiar theme here as aces are wild on Friday nights, and we’re going to ride them all the way to the window. Just like in Houston, we’re set for another incredible pitchers duel in Coral Gables.
Hunter Barco is slated to toe the slab for the Florida Gators in this one. Barco has been nothing short of magnificent so far this season. He has a 0.75 ERA through two starts and has punched out 23 in 12 innings. He recorded 12 of those strikeouts in one start against Georgia State.
Hunter Barco. The Grim Reaper of Souls pic.twitter.com/a2Spe58Q35
— 11Point7: The College Baseball Podcast 🎙 (@11point7) February 26, 2022
Carson Palmquist is Barco’s counterpart for the Hurricanes, and he has been dominant in his own right. Palmquist has a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings and has racked up 16 strikeouts along the way.
I can’t wait to watch these two lefties duel under the Friday night lights. The offenses for each of these clubs have been solid but have yet to face arms of this caliber. Thus, the under is the smart play, as I’m expecting a pair of aces to go inning for inning with each other.
Pick: Under 11
UC Irvine vs. No. 13 Oregon State, 8:35 p.m. ET
Finally, two teams that can really swing it.
Oregon State’s offense can be summed up by one word: DAM. The Beavers are third in the nation in batting average at .379 and have outscored opponents 83-21 this season. An interesting trend for the Beavers early on is that they have feasted on bullpens; 23 of their 83 runs have come in the eighth inning alone.
However, as good as they have been at beating up on relievers, theirs have had troubles of their own. Ten of the 21 runs the Beavers have surrendered this year have come in the eighth or ninth inning.
That is something that their opponents can capitalize on in this matchup. UC Irvine has been a bit of a disappointment out of the gate after starting the season as the 20th-ranked team in the nation. The Anteaters promptly lost their first series of the season to ULL.
The Anteaters are fortunate that their pitching has held up as they have only scored more than four runs twice in eight games this season. But they’re due for some positive regression in that regard given their current team batting average of .234. Last season, the Anteaters had a team OBP of .400 and they still possess one of the best hitters in the county in Nathan Church, who hit .364 in 2021.
Overall I’m expecting the Beavers to shoulder the load here, but UCI is due for some better offense, which only help our case in a play toward the over.
Pick: Over 11