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Big East Tournament: The Ultimate Preview

In Omaha with love; three east coast teams and the lone squad from Nebraska face off in a 4-team, double elimination tournament. The stakes could not be higher as the champion is awarded with a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Baseball! In Omaha!
Baseball! In Omaha!
Alex Sindelar

Win and you're in, lose twice and experience depressing downtime until February.

I write this in the friendly confines of TD Ameritrade Park as the first game of the tournament commences before my eyes. The weather is sublime with temperatures dancing in the 70's and the wind relatively absent. The grass is green and patterned with ultimate care in a giant checkerboard fashion. This is it. This is the home of the College World Series, the Mecca of college baseball, the pinnacle of achievement throughout a season laden with ups and downs, yet this weekend it hosts a conference tournament - a conference that ranks 18th in RPI - that will allow the champion to face further competition in NCAA play. This is the Big East Baseball tournament and by God if you aren't heavily invested in this then you either hate baseball or love spending your time doing other things.

Game One:

(1) St. John's vs (4) Georgetown

I apologize for the tardiness in getting this article up; I've been busy doing mischievous things and not reading to children at the local library. We're allowed to feast our eyes upon a pitching duel between St. John's Cody Stashak (7-4, 3.45 ERA) and Georgetown's Matt Smith (4-4 2.97 ERA). This matchup will feature 10 first-team All Big East players, including St. John's Robbie Knightes and Big East POTY in Georgetown's Nick Collins.

The Hoyas come in as the underdog in today's game, as St. John's won the Big East regular season crown and earned the 1-seed. If you recall from last week, Georgetown was able to squeeze into the tournament after winning the series against Seton Hall and claimed the #4 seed. These two teams are something of polar opposites, as St. John's relies heavily on manufacturing runs with small ball and timely hitting, shut down pitching and brilliant defense. Georgetown utilizes power hitting, big run innings and a litany of different looks pitching-wise. St. John's should handle the Hoyas with relative ease and end up in the driver's seat in the winner's bracket to face the winner of game 2. Speaking of game numero dos...

Game Two:

(2) Creighton vs (3) Seton Hall

The Pirates will most likely utilize the talents of Shane McCarthy (4-4, 1.96 ERA) while Creighton will go with Matt Warren (5-2, 2.98 ERA). Creighton won the regular season series with Matt Warren in the rubber match, who went 7 innings, allowed 3 hits and only an earned run. Creighton hasn't seen McCarthy yet this year as Elia, Prendergast and Pacillo in the series.

Look for Reagan Fowler to step up big for the Bluejays, as he's the only starting player for the Bluejays to achieve first team All-Big East honors. The tandem of Decaster & Gerber in late innings has proven mighty effective for Creighton while Seton Hall will call on DiBenedetto in the late innings.

There are many similar traits to both of these squads, utilizing a good starting with rotation and get 'em on, get 'em over and move 'em home offensive strategy. Expect lots of sac bunts to move runners over with these two squads. Creighton has a lot of depth in the bullpen and may call on Jack Rogalla, brother of Keith, if things begin to go south with Warren.

I fully expect the Bluejays to roll in this one, as they've got the home field advantage and are ready to take the entire tournament by storm. However, given the fact that the Bluejays haven't seen McCarthy yet this season, the Pirates will have an upper hand in keeping the Bluejays off balance.