1. Texas (No. 6 Baseball America): The late-April, early-May matchup in Austin, Texas, is an obvious choice because of the rivalry, but the Sooners need this series to end in their favor. Other than the previously stated reason, they need to take at least two of these three games because of respect. The year-in-year-out national powerhouse Longhorns have won the last eight meetings – including sweeping the last two series – and embarrassed OU on its home diamond in 2010. Their stellar pitching staff posted shutouts in the first two games and allowed three runs in the finale. You know head coach Sunny Golloway and his players want to end their slump against Texas and earn midseason national respect, so what better way to do so than by ending it in front of a hostile crowd?
2. TCU (No. 3 Baseball America): The Horned Frogs are arguably one of the top fan-favorites in the past year, whether it was when quarterback Andy Dalton led the football team to victory in Pasadena or pitcher Matt Purke mowed down batters in Omaha last summer. People just seem to like the team, and the Sooners realize the value of playing two midweek games against TCU. Although neither team will be throwing its aces in the two games – the first in Norman and the second in Fort Worth – playing each other increases their RPIs and gives the home fans the chance to say, "Hey, our baseball team just beat a very good team. What has yours done lately?" The games are always well played, but, most importantly, they help prepare each other for postseason play.
3. Arizona State (No. 11 Baseball America): Like the Texas series, this is about earning respect on the road. It's easier to win big series when you're at home, but this series – scheduled for March 15 and 16 in Tempe, Ariz. – serves two purposes. First, it helps strengthen the Sooners' strength of schedule. Second, it serves as a launching point going into conference play. If OU can win both games or split the two in good fashion with the fellow 2010 College World Series participant, then the Sooners should be riding a wave of confidence going into the first conference series of the season.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's version of the series.