Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As expected, the Rebels' crapping of their collective pants at the SEC Tournament cost them a legitimate shot at receiving a protected seed in the NCAA seeding. The fact that Florida landed the #8 national seed makes it even tougher to swallow. The Rebels were the only visiting team to win an SEC series in Gainesville this season. The Gators also dropped all 5 meetings to an average Arkansas team this season, including 2 in 3 days in Hoover last weekend.
To me, it looked the Rebels were gassed after spending every ounce of energy they had to sweep Arkansas and wrap up a share of the regular season title. They were spent and it showed.
All in all though, there's little to complain about when it comes to our pairings. There's not really a team in our Regional that jumps out you as a scary team. The Rebels ended Mizzou's season last year and - unless Aaron Crow was cloned - stands a good chance to do the same this year.
As for the pairing with UC-Irvine, it's really not as bad as the knee-jerk reaction infiltrating the message boards would have you believe. Yes it'll be a looooooooong trip for Rebel fans if the Rebels and Anteaters both hold serve, but there's always a flip side. This is the first time the Anteaters have ever hosted, so the pressure could get to them. Anyone who was at the incredible debacle that was the first ever Oxford Regional can attest to that. The Rebels fell to Western Kentucky and Washington - neither a very good team - in back to back games, bowing out unceremoniously 0-2. But for the Anteaters, they're not only hosting for the first time, they managed to land the consensus toughest Regional as well.
Of course none of this means anything if the players don't get their heads right before Friday night. My guess is that the week off to regroup and refocus and rest some arms will benefit the Rebels. Certainly having Bittle unavailable complicates matters, but it's time to get to Omaha. Period.