TCU is set to face either Coastal Carolina or Texas Tech on Friday, but who would we rather see them face? Jamie and Melissa discuss both options.
We'd Rather Play Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina is not lucky. They didn't get here because the teams they faced had major injury issues, or there were bad calls, or something that they didn't do enabled them to do something they shouldn't. They're in Omaha because they are a really good baseball club that has a ton of veteran experience and because their best players have stepped up in the biggest moments and come through for them.
That being said... bring on the Chants.
I know that I *should* be rooting for an all-Big 12 final, because that would be great for the conference and thusly great for TCU. But as much as I have legitimately rooted for OSU and Texas Tech (when they aren't playing the Frogs) in this post-season, that bus stops here for me. We have played each of these two teams four times in this season alone, and have split those games 2-2. We know each other too well, we've proven our mettle against each other - in the regular season for the Pokes and Red Raiders and in the post-season for the Frogs - and at this point, I'm over it. I'm not afraid to play anybody in Omaha; TCU is playing well enough to beat whatever opponent takes residence in the opposite dugout - but I can certainly make an argument for liking our chances better Friday against the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina.
TCU has been in CCU's shoes before; we have made it to Omaha has an underdog or a Cinderella story, won the first round game against a team we shouldn't, played well enough in game number two to win only to be done by a small mistake or a transcendent performance, and just ran out of gas trying to overcome the loser's bracket. I think CCU is in the same boat. With all-world Ace Andrew Beckwith not available until Friday at the earliest, and even then Gilmore seemed reluctant to bring him back that early, you're looking at a hodge-podge of arms that CCU will use to try and slow down a TCU attack that is just now starting to find its groove at the plate:
*expected to start Thursday night verses Texas Tech
I'm counting on TCU being able to put away a Chants squad that will be starting a freshman coming off of Tommy John surgery against Texas Tech, likely stretching their bullpen to it's limits, in one game. And if the Frogs can advance to the finals Friday night in their first opportunity to do so, that sets them up superbly for a championship series as far as their own pitching goes. And if it's OSU on the other side, they will need to have as many fresh arms available as possible, since the Cowboys have gotten near perfect performances from their starters to this point.
CCU is more than just a great story, they are a really great team. But it seems that their depth is running out, and the aggressiveness that won them so many games in the regular season and early goings of the NCAA tournament has been a detriment against the level of pitching they are seeing from the final eight. So, for tonight only, GO CHANTS. (C) C U tomorrow.
We'd Rather Play Texas Tech
Here's the thing about playing in the winners' bracket throughout the College World Series: The undefeated team has an enormous leg-up in terms of rested arms. We've witnessed it in the past when TCU had to battle out of the elimination bracket, only to come up short (see: TCU vs. UCLA in 2010, TCU vs. Vanderbilt in 2015). In those two games, games in which TCU was eliminated from the tournament, TCU lost by a combined 17-4.
There's no doubt in my mind that TCU had the pitching staff and bullpen in both of those years to run with any team that came after them, but the fact of the matter is that dropping into the elimination bracket taxes a team's arms in a way that makes it almost impossible to battle all the way back (And sure, it didn't help that in 2015 TCU went through a "closer crisis" with Riley Ferrell).
I'm not saying this to completely debunk the "Coastal Carolina has fewer decent arms left" argument, because it's a valid point. I'm simply saying that I don't think it should carry as much weight as we're giving it.
Beyond the arms argument, though, there's another reason TCU fans should be pulling for Texas Tech. Tech's lineup, while powerful, is less dangerous than Coastal Carolina's. Coastal Carolina's lineup boasts a .298 batting average on the season (through June 22nd), compared to Texas Tech's .291. For comparison, TCU's season batting average is .303. Coastal Carolina leads the country in home runs, with 94, compared to Tech's 55. Coastal Carolina has 107 stolen bases on the season, compared to Tech's 73. The list goes on and on, always coming out in favor of Coastal Carolina.
|Category||Coastal Carolina (Nat. Rk.)||Texas Tech (Nat. Rk.)|
||.298 (38th)||.291 (58th)|
|Slugging %||.483 (11th)||.446 (39th)|
|Runs||489 (4th)||457 (17th)|
|Hits||665 (15th)||654 (18th)|
|Doubles||111 (64th)||144 (4th)|
|Home Runs||94 (1st)||55 (36th)|
|Stolen Bases||107 (7th)||73 (60th)|
I didn't include stats like walks/strikeouts, because the NCAA stats page doesn't clearly indicate (to me, anyway) whether those are pitching stats or hitting stats. But, you get the general idea based on the info above. While both teams have well-rounded offenses, Coastal Carolina's is a cut above Tech's, and frankly, at this stage in the game, I'd rather see TCU's arms go up against a less potent offense on Friday.
"But Jamie, Coastal played in a much weaker conference than Tech, so their stats are inflated."
Sure, but you don't trip and fall into being one of the most productive offenses in the country, just like you don't trip and fall into being one of the best defenses in college football (despite being in the Mountain West). There is undoubtedly a lot of talent on both teams, and Coastal Carolina's comes out slightly ahead based on those season-long statistics.
The last point I'll make is somewhat of a cop-out, but I'm going to make it anyway. It'd be nice to see the Big 12 be guaranteed a spot in the final pairing, which is what would happen should Tech beat Coastal Carolina on Thursday night. Locking in one spot in the championship round with Oklahoma State on the other side of the bracket looking good, gets us one step closer to an all-Big 12 championship matchup, which would be absolutely magnificent.