It was a nail-biting few days for Miami fans. After getting their doors blown off against Wake Forest and NC State in the ACC tournament, Miami fans, players, and coaches had to sweat it out on Selection Monday, waiting to see if the season-long resume would be enough to offset a late swoon.
Miami was awarded the #6 national seed, which means the Canes will not have to leave home in their quest for another trip to Omaha. The Canes will host the Coral Gables regional, marking the 28th home regional in school history. The regional also includes Arizona, Ole Miss, and Canisius as the 2, 3, and 4 seeds, respectively. Miami will open with Canisius on Friday at noon. Arizona and Ole Miss will face off later at 7:00 pm.
A closer look at Miami’s regional foes:
Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats went 37-23 overall and 16-14 in PAC-12 play. The Wildcats were decent away from home, going 12-10 in true road games and 5-2 at neutral sites, so they won’t be intimidated by the atmosphere. They ended the season on a bit of a slide, losing 8 of their final 12 games, but won 2 games in the PAC-12 tournament, reaching the semifinals. Their top hitter is catcher Daniel Susac, who started all 60 games and batted .367 with 12 HRs, 61 RBIs and featured an OPS of 1.030. Either Garrett Irvin (3.22 ERA; 1.19 WHIP) or TJ Nichols (5.51; 1.55) will likely get the start Friday night against Ole Miss, per Arizona’s website.
Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels went 32-22 and 14-16 in the SEC. They were a bit of a surprise bubble team by some, as it seemed Kentucky and perhaps Alabama had better positioned themselves to make the tournament with strong SEC tourney showings. However, Ole Miss has enough talent to win the regional and can’t be taken lightly. The Rebels are led at the plate by 1B Tim Elko, who ranks among the best hitters in Ole Miss history. He had a strong year against SEC pitching, hitting .339 with 12 HRs in conference. On the mound, Hunter Elliott (3.29; 1.23) and Jack Washburn (3.38; 1.42) have the best stat lines among the Rebel pitchers who’ve started at least 8 games this year. However, Ole Miss announced that Dylan DeLucia (4.57; 1.39) will start Friday against Arizona.
Canisius Golden Griffins. Canisius went 29-23 overall and 15-9 in the MAAC. They won the MAAC tournament title, compiling an impressive 43 runs in 4 games. They’re led at the plate by Max Grant, who hit .404 over all 52 games while slugging a team high 10 HRs with 52 RBIs and an OPS of 1.148. The Golden Griffins’ ability to swing the bats might make one wonder whether it would be prudent for Miami to pitch ace Carson Palmquist on Friday instead of holding him for Saturday, especially given Miami’s relative pitching struggles lately. A decision between Palmquist, Karson Ligon, Alejandro Rosario, or Jake Garland should be made very soon. Pitcher Matt Duffy will likely toe the rubber for Canisius on Friday against the Canes. Duffy (3.67 ERA; 1.06 WHIP) struck out 116 over 98 IP, so he has the stuff to miss bats.
How do you all see this regional playing out? Does Miami get it turned around after a dismal ACC tourney showing? Let’s hear it.