Calling All Conferences: Titans rise up

Kendall Rogers

Follow Kendall Rogers on Twitter at @ysportsncaabb.

Cal State Fullerton coach Dave Serrano is getting a crash course on how some teams handle adversity.

The Titans didn't exactly start the season on a hot note. Even All-American shortstop Christian Colon was hitting well under .300 just a few weeks into the season.

But now everything seems to be right with the Titans.

They earned a series win over UC Irvine last weekend and continue to climb in the RPI ratings, setting the stage for a possible regional host at the end of the season.

The Titans climbed atop our Big West rankings while UC Irvine only dropped to No. 2 following the series loss to the Titans.

We rank the big six conferences and the non-big six in terms of 1-15.

1. Arkansas – The Razorbacks are playing an outstanding brand of baseball right now.

2. Florida – The Gators could show us everything about their team my having success without several key injured players.

3. LSU – The Tigers must find a way to bounce back from a tough road series loss to Auburn last weekend.

4. South Carolina – The Gamecocks have pitched much better than expected so far this season with Blake Cooper leading the way.

5. Mississippi – The Rebels haven't played well as of late and a trip to South Carolina may not be the way to bounce back, either.

6. Auburn – The Tigers could get on a roll with a series win over Vanderbilt this weekend.

7. Vanderbilt – The Commodores would be in great shape if the offensive lineup gave the pitching staff some help.

8. Kentucky – The Wildcats must deal with another setback as they won't have pitcher Alex Meyer for a few weeks because of mononucleosis.

9. Alabama – Things get serious this weekend as the Crimson Tide is in need of a series win. Problem is they're at LSU this weekend.

10. Tennessee – The Volunteers play Mississippi State in the annual "hey, we're not that bad series", this weekend.

11. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs might be OK if their pitching staff would rise to the occasion.

12. Georgia – The Bulldogs are firmly cemented into the basement this season.


No. 15 Mississippi at No. 9 South Carolina

This is a very important series for both teams. The Gamecocks must continue to take care of business, especially at home, if they want to win the SEC regular season title. The Rebels, meanwhile, haven't played particularly well the past two weekends and could use a confidence and RPI booster this weekend. South Carolina has the better overall pitching staff and should win the series. The offensive lineups are very similar it seems.

1. Virginia – The Cavaliers showed exactly what they're made of with a fantastic home series win over Georgia Tech last weekend.

2. Georgia Tech – Look for the Yellow Jackets to have their best weekend against Clemson.

3. Florida State – It wasn't pretty at times, but the Seminoles are coming off a road series win over Wake Forest.

4. Clemson – The Tigers are still in the mix for a regional host, but needs to take care of Georgia Tech this weekend.

5. Miami (Fla.) – The Hurricanes' pitching staff has been fantastic for much of the season.

6. Virginia Tech – Yeah, it's not a misprint. The Hokies are ranked sixth in the ACC right now.

7. North Carolina – The Tar Heels could desperately use a road series win over Miami this weekend.

8. N.C. State – The Wolfpack need an incredibly strong finish to the regular season to make an NCAA regional.

9. Duke – Can the Blue Devils find a way to get on a roll after their home series win over Clemson last weekend?

10. Boston College – The Eagles have a decent RPI but needs a strong finish to make another NCAA regional appearance.

11. Maryland – The Terrapins are playing better these days, but still obviously have much work to do.

12. Wake Forest – This season is a learning experience for coach Tommy Walter and the Demon Deacons.


No. 14 Clemson at No. 7 Georgia Tech

Another huge series this weekend, it'll be interesting to see what happens at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Tigers are coming off a tough series loss to Duke, while the Yellow Jackets are coming off a tough road series to Virginia. The Yellow Jackets easily have the advantage at the plate, while the Tigers and Jackets both have some solid pitchers and some arms that face consistency issues. Tech, though, will take care of business at home this weekend.

1. Texas – The Longhorns may win the Big 12 regular season title by four, five or even six games.

2. Oklahoma – The Sooners have been just fine since that Texas debacle a couple of weekends ago.

3. Kansas State – The Wildcats could silence some doubters this weekend with a series win over red-hot Baylor.

4. Baylor – The Bears are getting in a groove and it comes at the right time with a road series against Kansas State.

5. Texas A&M – The Aggies have been atrocious with runners in scoring position. That must change this weekend.

6. Kansas – The Jayhawks are much better than their 3-5 conference record indicates.

7. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders don't have a bad RPI, but they need to get on a roll to become regional eligible.

8. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys dropped a heartbreaker to Texas Tech last weekend.

9. Nebraska – The Huskers are playing a little better brand of baseball these days. Will that pay off?

10. Missouri – Outside of Aaron Senne, the Tigers have mightily struggled this season. It's not exactly a surprise, either.


No. 4 Texas vs. Texas A&M

This series couldn't be more important for the Aggies. After splitting a series against Kansas two weekends ago and losing a series to Baylor last weekend, the Aggies are in desperate need of a huge series win. Beating Texas this weekend would cure some woes, though. Unfortunately for the Aggies, though, Texas is playing fantastic baseball and has an exceptional pitching staff. This series comes down to which team hits with more consistency. UT wins the series with a more opportunistic offense.

1. UCLA – The Bruins are on a roll after winning a road series against Oregon State last weekend.

2. Arizona State – Even with a road series loss to Washington State last weekend, the Sun Devils are still one of the elite.

3. Oregon State – The Beavers were close to taking two games from UCLA, but needs to learn to seal the deal.

4. Arizona – Andy Lopez' club has been a pleasant surprise so far this season.

5. California – Pitcher Justin Jones and the Golden Bears have risen to the occasion so far this season.

6. Oregon – George Horton's Ducks have pitched at an extremely high level this season.

7. Washington State – The Cougars took a huge step forward last weekend with a series win over Arizona State.

8. Stanford – With a record just over .500, the Cardinal obviously has some work to do down the stretch.

9. Washington – The Huskies have two big weekends against California and Arizona State coming up.

10. USC – The Trojans have no identity and won't move out of the basement anytime soon.


Oregon at No. 1 UCLA

Coach George Horton's club has made plenty of statements this season, but no statement would be bigger than knocking off the nation's top-ranked team on the road this weekend. The Ducks and Bruins both have elite pitching staffs, but the weekend series comes down to which team has the better offensive lineup. That team clearly is UCLA with a batting average well over .310. Oregon, meanwhile, is hitting .276. Look for the Bruins to earn a hard-fought series victory this weekend.

1. Rice – The Owls are playing an improved brand of baseball, but still are far from being an elite team.

2. Tulane – The Green Wave hopes to rebound after falling short against Rice at home last weekend.

3. East Carolina – The Pirates definitely are strong candidates to make a strong run to end the regular season.

4. UAB – The Blazers had a slipup last weekend, but still are a solid team this season.

5. Memphis – The Tigers are playing a much improved brand of baseball in conference play.

6. UCF – Chris Duffy and the Knights definitely could make a run to end the regular season.

7. Houston – The Cougars really need to get their act together down the stretch.

8. Marshall – Can the Thundering Herd make it two straight series wins with Southern Miss in town this weekend?

9. Southern Mississippi – We're as surprised as you are that the Golden Eagles are sitting at the bottom of Conference USA.


UCF at Rice

Terry Rooney's UCF Knights have made some strides the past few weeks, but the ultimate test comes this weekend with a home date and series against league-leading Rice. The Owls aren't exactly an elite team right now, but a win over them would be a huge confidence booster and a boost to UCF's national perception. UCF knows what is on the line this weekend and earns a surprising home series victory.

1. Cal State Fullerton – The red-hot Titans proved they were the cream of the crop against UC Irvine last weekend.

2. UC Irvine – Even with a tough series loss to the Titans, the Anteaters still are a solid club and Big West contender.

3. Pacific – In perhaps the surprise of the season, the Tigers have taken a huge step forward this season.

4. Long Beach State – The Dirtbags just can't seem to establish any consistency, as noted by last week's series loss to UC Davis.

5. UC Riverside – The Highlanders have a chance at an NCAA regional bid, but must take care of LBSU at home this weekend.

6. UC Davis – Rex Peters' Aggies step out of conference after that huge series win over Long Beach State last weekend.

7. UC Santa Barbara – The Gauchos could make a statement this weekend with a home series win over Cal State Fullerton.

8. Cal State Northridge – The Matadors probably got just what the doctord ordered with a home series against Cal Poly.

9. Cal Poly – The Mustangs continue to struggle and there appears to be no end in sight. (9)


Pacific at UC Irvine

This is a very intriguing series. The Tigers had an ample opportunity to earn a huge conference series win over Long Beach State a few weeks ago. However, that bid fell short. This weekend, though, the Tigers get another chance to earn a huge series win against UC Irvine. The Anteaters will have their resolve tested after a heartbreaking series loss to Cal State Fullerton last weekend. But look for the 'Eaters to take care of business at home against the Tigers.

1. Louisville – We'll see how the Cardinals respond from the tough series loss to Pittsburgh last weekend.

2. TCU – The Horned Frogs are starting to once again get hot in every aspect of the game.

3. Coastal Carolina – Speaking of hot, the Chanticleers are en fuego right now. Can anyone slow down Gary Gilmore's club?

4. Western Kentucky – The Hilltoppers continue to play a consistent brand of baseball this season. They also want to host an NCAA regional.

5. San Diego – The Toreros still are the only team to take a series from Coastal Carolina this season, and that was on the road.

6. Connecticut – The Huskies have a very solid club this season, and that includes an impressive weekend rotation.

7. New Mexico – The Lobos continue to not have many issues in Mountain West play this season.

8. Arkansas State – Coach Tommy Raffo has done a fabulous job with the Red Wolves this season.

9. Texas State – The Bobcats hope to earn an impressive series win over Southeastern Louisiana this weekend.

10. Southeastern Louisiana – The Lions could make a statement this weekend by taking care of Texas State at home.

11. Pittsburgh – The Panthers took a huge step forward last weekend with a home series win over Louisville.

12. The Citadel – The Bulldogs hope to rebound from a tough series loss to Indiana State last weekend.

13. VMI – The Keydets made a huge statement earlier this week with a crushing win over No. 2 Virginia.

14. Michigan State – The Spartans have a huge opportunity against Ohio State this weekend.

15. South Alabama – The Jaguars have risen to the occasion so far this season, but will that continue the rest of the spring?