The Arkansas-Ole Miss Fayetteville Super Regional stacks up as one of the most enthralling of the eight NCAA Tournament series this weekend. On one hand, Arkansas is one of the nation’s most explosive offensive teams, boasting a lineup some believe is even better than last year’s.
D1baseball’s Kendall Rogers, for instance, thinks Arkansas’ 2019 lineup is more balanced than its 2018 edition. “I think this year’s lineup is a little bit better at the bottom,” he said.
On top of that, of course, the Hogs have been tremendous at home.
On the other hand, however, Ole Miss has proven to be the Razorbacks’ Fayetteville kryptonite in the last three years as the most successful visiting team at Baum-Walker Stadium in that period. And Ole Miss ranks as one of the nation’s best defensive squads, too.
On yet another hand, Ole Miss will not have played Arkansas with a home crowd at the kind of frothing, fevered pitch that awaits them. Even with the success the Rebels have recently enjoyed in Fayetteville, this will be a new beast — likely the most intimidating atmosphere they will ever experience on the college level.
With so much, namely a trip to the College World Series, hanging in the balance there are two things we can be sure of:
- There’s a Labyrinth-level number of hands involved here.
- There’s a lot of division among college baseball experts on who will win this series.
Rogers, for his part, predicts the Hogs will pull it out. Indeed he thinks Arkansas will play Vanderbilt for the national championship, as he noted on the D1baseball podcast. He thinks the Hogs addressed many of the question marks hanging over the program entering the season.
Isaiah Campbell showed flashes of greatness in 2018 but has harnessed that into sustained, consistent brilliance in 2019. Other starting Hog pitchers “Patrick Wicklander and Connor Noland have become much better as the season’s progressed. They were up and down early, but especially Noland has been a lot better down the stretch. They’ve figured things out on the mound, but that [youth] is still a question mark for me,” Rogers said.
Rogers’ podcast co-host, Aaron Fitt, isn’t so high on the Hogs. He predicts Ole Miss will win. “I love the lineup, the whole thing, the experience, the firepower, I think the athleticism is really good. You’ve got superstar defenders at short stop and at catcher with [Grae] Kessenger and Cooper Johnson. And Jacob Adams [a Conway native] at second base….”
“Really?,” Rogers asked Fitt after Fitt shared his prediction. “Razorback Twitter’s gonna get after you tomorrow.”
Other Experts Predictions for the Fayetteville Super Regional
Sports Illustrated [Eric Single]
“The Fayetteville faithful have to like their chances with an offense that has absolutely raked at Baum-Walker Stadium and ace Isaiah Campbell setting the tone for the staff....”
NCAA.com (Yes, the NCAA is now predicting the outcomes of the very games over which it is supposed to act as an unbiased, regulatory body) [Anthony Chiusano]
In the regional round, “Ole Miss was equally impressive at home in Oxford with a +34 run differential in three games. The Rebels have four hitters in their lineup with at least 10 homers, including Thomas Dillard (13) who had three in regionals.”
Prediction: Ole Miss (in 3)
CollegeBaseballDaily.com [Jake Mastroianni]
The best sports betting sites slightly differ in opinion, but Arkansas gets a slight edge in most of them. Bovada, for instance, has Arkansas as a 1.5 point favorite.
For more insight, check Arkansas Fight’s Tucker Partridge’s preview talk with our SB Nation brethren at Red Cup Rebellion: