RCR Baseball Preview: Predictions

Each year, Brian Walker's Elbow and I meet up to discuss baseball predictions and how we think the team will do.

Usually I am more positive than he and the discussion is usually over a meal (oyster po-boys, Ajax, etc.), but this year was completely different.

He, being a resident of Mississippi, and I, being a resident of Alabama, did not meet for a meal and baseball talk. We simply had to exchange e-mails and phone calls. Also, it seemed I was the more worried and negative of the pair.

First, Toomer's trees poisoned. Now, Brian Walker's Elbow is getting positive about a Bianco-led Ole Miss team?!?!

What in the hell is this world coming to?

Our picks and predictions after the jump.

Weekend Series Non-Conference:
Wright State, @ Houston, Tulane, and Lipscomb

This pre-season slate is not too difficult.  Wright State has had a quality program over the years with an occasional NCAA tournament appearance (I'm too lazy to look up the official numbers).  The University of Houston has a lot of energy around it right now with a new coach.  A pre-season #25 (baseball america) Tulane team comes to town and will definitely be a challenge.  I don't know much about Lipscomb, honestly.  I would imagine us going 9-3 at best during this pre-conference portion.  Hosting Tulane and going to Houston scares me a little bit. - BWE

A sweep of Lipscomb should be expected as they are in one of the smallest conferences in Division 1 - the Atlantic Sun. Tulane and Wright State are both likely to strip a game away, but I think the away games at Houston could very well be a 1-2 type weekend for the Rebels. I'll predict an 8-4 record over this stretch as some of the younger Rebels start to gain their form and poise. - OMTB

Midweek games:
Memphis (2x), Arkansas State (2x), Austin Peay (2x), Westery Kentucky (2x), Jackson State, Samford, Southern Miss (2x), Mississippi State, UA-Pine Bluff

I imagine that we will sweep Memphis, Arkansas State, and Austin Peay.  We will beat Jackson State, Samford, UA-Pine Bluff.  I think we will split with Southern Miss and get upset by State in Pearl.  The hard thing about predicting midweek games is that we tend to slip up.  Also, we're starting our #4 and #5 pitchers in those games.  Barring too many upsets, I'll say we go 10-5 in midweek games. - BWE

Predicting mid-week games is like walking in on your grandmother taking a shower. It happens, hopefully not too regularly, and you try to forget it as soon as possible. WKU, USM and Miss. St. are the three dangerous opponents who could pile up 5 losses for the Rebels. Arkansas State also has been known to put together some offensive on-slaughts against Ole Miss in the past. With younger pitching carrying the load in these games, it could very well be a 9-6 type of stretch. - OMTB

SEC Series:
Alabama, @ Tennessee, @ LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, @ Auburn, @ Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, @ Arkansas

By the time SEC play rolls around, we'll have a better idea what we are capable of.  We will be lucky not to get swept @Florida.   Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, and Arkansas have some series holes to fill from last season.  I have no idea about Tennessee and Kentucky because they are relative unknowns for me, but I don't think they'll be too strong.  How about Georgia?  Is Dave Perno's club due a random good year?  Also, South Carolina loses some pitching from their national championship squad, but Ray Tanner always has good teams.  

What is it about baseball?  I always think that we are going to be good.  I don't know why I consistently feel this way.  With so many newcomers, there could be some really good players we don't know about.  My only real concern for this team is shortstop.  Things get ugly quickly when a team deals with E6 all the time (see 2008).  That said, I see us in the 14-16 SEC win range.  Bianco has not had losing SEC record since 2002, so I'll go with a 16-14 record in the SEC.

That's an overall prediction of 35-21 (16-14 SEC). - BWE

The good news is that this year there's no Vandy on the schedule. The bad news is that everyone else save Kentucky still is on the SEC schedule. USC-Ole Miss will be a great series in Oxford. Don't miss that one. Road trips to LSU, Florida and Arkansas will give the Rebels at least six losses, in my opinion. Auburn has a good squad this year but doesn't offer much in terms of atmosphere, which should swing things in the Rebels favor there.

I'm more confident about the SEC picks, because Bianco knows these teams fairly well. He knows the grind of an SEC schedule, and there's enough veteran leadership to shine through. I think we're one of the top five teams in the SEC, but I would be shocked to see us win more than 18 conference games. It's just the reality of how good so many of these teams are even in down years. Plus, sweeps are just so hard to come by in conference play. I'll go one win less than BWE in my prediction as I'm dubious about Sunday starting, Goforth's new pitch and our offensive ability 1-9 for consistency.

That's an overall prediction of 32-24 (15-15 SEC) - OMTB
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