Schedule Gives Canes Little of Everything

Putting together a college baseball schedule is a delicate dance for any coaching staff. Too tough a schedule and you risk your team taking lumps all season and falling out of the NCAA tournament. Too soft a schedule and the computer numbers won't work for you and any losses to low-RPI teams will really hurt you.

For 2013, I think the coaches that put together Miami's schedule did an incredible job. This schedule has a little bit of everything.

You have early-season out of conference series against the likes of Rutgers and Milwaukee that should allow the Canes to get into midseason form while also stacking up some wins. The risk here is that any losses to these teams would hurt the RPI ranking, but you have to have games like this on the schedule.

My favorite part of this schedule is the out of conference series that will really push the Hurricanes and give them a sneak peek of a postseason atmosphere.

The first series that jumps out at you is the series at Florida. The Gators aren't quite as stacked as they have been in past years. Their lineup has been overhauled, but they do return Jonathan Crawford, Karsten Whitson and Keenan Kish to the pitching staff. If even the Gators aren't quite as good as they have been recently, this series will still be a test to find out just how good this Miami team will be.

The other series that I'm excited for is the May series against St. John's. This series was a good series when they scheduled it, as the Johnnies are always a really solid program. But after St. John's made it to the super regionals last season, this series looks even better.

As with every season, though, the backbone of the Miami schedule is the ACC slate. Among the highlights this season are series with North Carolina and Florida State.

The Seminoles return shortstop Justin Gonzalez to the middle of the lineup and pitchers Brandon Liebrandt, Mike Compton and Scott Sitz to the rotation. In preseason polls they are being ranked towards the back of the top 25, but I don't think anyone would be shocked if we ended up seeing them somewhere near the top at some point this season.

The UNC Tar Heels are, according to Baseball America, the preseason number one team in the nation. They return just about everyone from last year's squad, including possible national player of the year Colin Moran. On the mound, they return two pitchers, Kent Emanuel and Benton Moss, who had ERAs less than 2.00 last season. The biggest perk of a well-balanced schedule like the one Miami has this season is that the schedule will work for them if they do their part. That means that if the team gets to certain win benchmarks, they can rely on the computer numbers to help their case. If the Canes can put together 35 wins or so, they should be in the clear for an NCAA bid. If they are able to push toward 40-42 wins, they will be knocking on the door for a hosting slot.

When it comes right down to it, putting the team in a position to achieve its goals is all you can ask for in a schedule and Miami's schedule will do just that.

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