Many of the teams across the D1A landscape are taking part in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament, but those who aren’t are putting on some pretty impressive matches amongst themselves.
The Mid-South teams are playing some tantalizing matches. #5 Arkansas State will play #9 Navy on Sunday in Jonesboro, for the Midshipmen’s first match of the Spring. Navy were impressive through the fall, going 7-1, with their only slip up against Lindenwood. Arkansas State has been one of the form teams this Spring, beating Lindenwood and making #1 Life more uncomfortable than they have been in a while. The game should be a tight affair with the winner likely to be determined in the final ten minutes. One big factor in the outcome of this game could be rust. This will be Navy’s first D1A opponent since November, and so they will have to work particularly hard to avoid any uncharacteristic mistakes.
The other big game including a Mid-South team this weekend, will be #4 Army traveling to #6 Lindenwood. This will be an enormous game for both teams, but especially for Lindenwood. The reason it is so important for Lindenwood is playoff seedings. After losing two conference games this season, their chances of winning the Mid-South are relatively low. Therefore, to get the best possible road to the national championship, they will want to secure the highest at large bid possible. A big win against a Top 4 opponent will give them their best shot at doing so. Army will have to be prepared mentally for this game, as they are facing a side hungry for a result; while they are coming off a three month hiatus. Don’t be surprised if this matchup is seen again during the playoffs.
The third top 10 matchup taking place will see #7 BYU and #10 Arizona squaring off in Las Vegas. Arizona has been looking sharp all year, but were pushed consistently last weekend by #19 UCLA- a feeling they are not accustomed with. It will be interesting to see how Sean Duffy’s men respond this weekend, and whether or not they put a larger emphasis on coming out strong in the opening quarter. BYU, after a successful Fall where they rampaged their way through the Rocky Mountain, fell short against Saint Mary’s College two weekends ago. Similarly to Arizona, they started out slower than they would have liked, but were unable to recover in the same fashion the Wildcats were. You can expect the first 20-30 minutes of the game to be fiercely competitive, as each team attempts to learn from errors in their last hit-outs. The team who wins the first 20 minutes, could likely be the team to win the entire match.
In the California Conference #3 Saint Mary’s takes on #20 Grand Canyon. This game will prove to be a massive game for the Lopes. A win, or even a strong showing, could see them climb up the ladder, and give their playoff hopes more security. A massive loss, could see them hurtling out of the Top 20 and even the playoff race. For Saint Mary’s it will be a tough outing, but they will feel supremely confident in their abilities to secure the win, as they have been able to handle all opposition they’ve faced this season with relative ease. The other two matches in the conference will see San Diego State host Santa Clara; and UC Davis travel to UC Santa Barbara.