Arkansas, ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, and Arizona State, ranked No. 1 by USA Today and Baseball America, will meet in one of the most anticipated midweek series in recent memory.
"To us it's exciting to get good teams in here," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Monday. "I've talked about it a lot we want to get quality teams in Baum Stadium. The fans have been awesome over the years. We were pretty good a couple of years ago, not so good last year and we've been on the road a lot.
"We went to Tempe last year and played a great Arizona State team and fortunately we got them to come back. This should be a pretty good series and having them come in leading the Pac-10 and ranked in the top five in almost every poll. It'll be a fun two-game series."
The series is one of several anticipated nonconference showdowns in Fayetteville this season. Joining the Sun Devils as visitors at Baum Stadium has been the likes of Washington State, Kansas, California and Nebraska, and the Razorbacks still have a scheduled date with Oklahoma later this month.
Van Horn said a lot of thought went into the schedule, which was ranked as the nation's toughest going into the season by Baseball America.
"I felt like we were going to have a pretty good team a couple of years ago when I scheduled like I did," Van Horn said. "I knew the young guys we had coming in and we didn't know if there were a couple of guys we'd have back, but we felt like we'd have a pretty good club that could compete.
"You don't want to have this kind of schedule if you don't have a pretty good club – that's a fact."
Arizona State (23-5) leads the Pac-10 conference with an 8-1 record and has the lowest team ERA in the nation at 2.30.
The Sun Devils enter Tuesday's meeting on a four-game winning streak, including a win over Cal State Fullerton last Wednesday, the then-No. 1 team by Baseball America.
"They're always known for their offense but this year I think what has thrown them over the top is that they can really pitch," Van Horn said. "They have two or three conference guys with an ERA under two and the midweek guys aren't much higher. It's a good situation for them because they know they're going to be in every game with that pitching.
"We're going to come to the ballpark with a little pep in our step knowing this is the Pac-10's best team this year and we get to play them at home."
The Razorbacks (22-6) are the best team in the Southeastern Conference with a 10-2 record through four weekend series. But how did the Hogs' skipper feel about being No. 1 nationally in one of this week's polls?
"It (surprises) me, obviously," Van Horn said. "We've played a lot of good teams and we've done pretty well. You look at Arizona State and their pitching and they could easily be tops in (all the) polls. I'm proud of it and happy for the guys, but it's still early."
The games are the first of seven-straight at Baum Stadium for the Razorbacks. Van Horn said despite the high ranking, the Arizona State series isn't the one that adds stress this week.
"The pressure is when we play Vandy this weekend," Van Horn said. "We just really want to continue doing well in league play. But obviously we want to win Tuesday and we want to win Wednesday, but we don't want to sacrifice conference pitchers to win in the middle of the week even though we are playing such a high-profile program."
Brett Eibner, who hasn't allowed a run in his last three outings, will get the start Tuesday.
"Eibner will go a little longer if he can," Van Horn said. "We're getting his pitch count up. Last week he threw five innings and only threw 53 pitches. I could have left him out there, but we had a plan and were going to try to get everybody some work to get ready for the weekend."
Van Horn was also excited about the possibility of junior right-hander Bryan Bingham returning to the lineup this week. Bingham has pitched just once this season battling an injured ribcage. Van Horn said Bingham likely won't start Wednesday, but should get a couple of innings out of the bullpen.
"We'll probably put him on our 25-man roster for this weekend if he pitches well," Van Horn said. "If not we'll try again next week."