Just going to say it…State is going to beat Arkansas this weekend. There…done…I now have taken the burden and bad juju onto myself. You’re welcome. Vonwolf will be the one that, come the fourth inning of Game 1, will have Hogs fans blowing up his Twitter, a la the USF women’s basketball fans from this year’s WBB NCAAT.
Feel like so many folks are just assuming the worst, but here are three reasons why the Wolfpack are heading to Omaha.
Under Pressure at Home
Over/under 3.5 times in the first couple innings that the announcers will talk about this Arkansas crowd. They’ll pack that baby to the gills, have choreographed dance move/cheers and be in it all night. (Although it is funny by the the sixth inning folks that have just said to themselves, “Look, love these Razorbacks, but I can’t do this standup – sit down – stand up sh*t all night). With that, however, comes immense pressure.
Arkansas is the number one team in the country. If all went as planned, they’d be hosting 16th seed LA Tech and be feeling real good about themselves. Instead, an ACC contender strolls in with a resume over this last two months, that is equal or better to anyone in the country. If they don’t make it to Omaha, all that work being top dog this year will be a waste.
“But Arkansas has the best home record in the country.” True…but…
If you take out non-Power 5 conference games at home (and we’re talking Southeast Missouri State, Murray State, Little Rock and damn UAPB), the Razorbacks home record goes from 29-6 (best in the country) to 14-6. The one team that we can compare and contrast with is LA Tech, who in a three game series, lost a game in extras, lost and then won the finale. Granted it was early in the year, but LA Tech going basically 1-1-1, gives me hope. I know that the SEC is loaded, but I also wouldn’t put all my eggs in the, “They’re home so they’ll win” basket. Also, did I mention State has the best road record in the country?
Swing Batta, Batta Swing
Again, I blacked out the Duke game from my mind. Couldn’t tell you what happened that afternoon, but can assure you, there is no way that our team just didn’t score.
This lineup for the Wolfpack is ridiculous. The MVP of the regional? Devonte Brown, the dude hitting SEVENTH. State was an offensive machine in Ruston, which hit dingers galore and just felt like they had completely refocused from their trip to Charlotte. State is top-30 nationally in both hits per game (10.2 / #21) and runs per game (7.2 / #30). Arkansas can’t say the same, with a 138th rank in HPG.
Arkansas themselves have a stellar relief core, starters are solid but not nearly the records you’d assume. Frankly, they might just build a statue for reliever Kevin Kopps, who has 12 wins to go with his 11 saves, which is a ratio I’ve never seen before. Arkansas’ standard four-man starting rotation, however, is 12-6. State will have the opportunity to get things started early, which 1000000% works in their favor. If hits start in the first, they’ll have a good night at the plate.
Reverse the Curse
You want to know why we went through the painful 8-run meltdown against TCU? Why we lost to Campbell and Army in regionals? That we had to endure the loss in this year’s ACCC? It’s because we needed to go big to breakout. It’s like my family’s 4th of July celebrations. Most years are fine, but it’s not “next level greatness” until an uncle losses a finger. THAT’S when you know the wait was worth it.
State athletics love to make you think one thing and then switch it up on you. Whenever we are suppose to win, we find a way to fall short. Whenever we just don’t have what it takes, we win big. Take for example the ACC Championship. We were definitely going to beat that Duke team, then we didn’t. By all metrics, Arkansas is definitely going to beat State…soooooooooooooo.
I’d rather be lucky than good and I’d rather take a team that has that weird underdog mojo. This is where rubber meets the road and this State team can prove endless amounts of doubters wrong. Give me starters going deep with swagger, give me live bats that are aggressive all night, and give me smiling Avent in the dugout.
Did I mention they are a totally different team on the road?
State. Will. Win.