The Huskers will play their first road game in over a month when they travel to Lawrence this weekend to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. Nebraska needs to win the series to maintain a record above .500 in the Big 12.
Should Texas A&M lose their series to Texas, Nebraska has the potential of moving into fourth place in conference. Kansas is currently a half game behind Baylor and Oklahoma, fighting for a place in the Big 12 tourney.
As of May 16th, Nebraska has played the toughest schedule in the nation. Given that there's around 300 Division I baseball teams, that's incredible. 24 of the last 25 games the Huskers have played have been against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI. (Oklahoma has played the 7th toughest, Texas the 9th.)
I know there are some Huskers fans who are down on pitching coach Bingham, but the Huskers ERA at 4.02 is second in the Big 12 only to Texas. The Huskers are second in opponent batting average at .250, fewest walks per game (3.18), and strikeouts per game (8.41), so pitching is not the problem with this team.
There is a feeling among Nebraska fans that we need to finish with an above .500 record to get into the NCAA tourney. Due to their schedule strength and high RPI, the Huskers might be able to afford losing the series at Kansas, and then be one and done at the Big 12 tourney and still get in - but who wants to deal with that kind of angst?
Schedule and Projected Starters:
Friday - May 18 7 p.m.
- NU-Tony Watson, Jr., LHP (5-4, 3.63 ERA, 77 K, 86.2 IP)
- KU-Andy Marks, So., LHP (5-6, 5.29 ERA, 89 K, 85.0 IP)
Saturday - May 19 6 p.m.
- NU-Johnny Dorn, Jr., RHP (8-2, 5.09 ERA, 54 K, 76 IP)
- KU-Nick Czyz, So., LHP (4-7, 4.12 ERA, 60 K, 67.2 IP)
Sunday - May 20 5 p.m. (late Sunday start due to KU Commencement)
- NU-Luke Wertz, Jr., RHP (3-0, 2.09 ERA, 47 K, 43 IP)
- KU-Wally Marciel, Fr., LHP (5-2, 3.91 ERA, 42 K, 53 IP)
I don't think I need to remind Husker fans what a pain in our butts that Kansas has been over the past couple years. They've destroyed us in basketball. They beat us badly 40-15 in football in 2005 while breaking their 800-year losing streak and then last fall they drove us nuts while we barely won 39-32.
It'd be nice to have a sweep and put all guessing aside, wouldn't it?