NCAA Baseball Tournament 2013: Manhattan Regional Preview -- The Teams Arkansas Will Face

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

The surprising Big 12 champions host a disappointed SEC team, a quality midmajor and a team that full of Shockers

Looking at the NCAA baseball tournament regionals that involve SEC teams

MANHATTAN REGIONAL
Winner faces winner of the Corvallis Regional

(1) Kansas State
RPI: 17-T
Record: 41-17, 24-7 Big 12

The last time Kansas State won a Big 12 title in basketball, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just been inaugurated for the first time. That would be in 1933, for those of us who aren't history buffs. It was the end of a great year for the Wildcats, who also claimed the conference crowns in football and basketball. So what if they're the lowest-ranked regional host facing a team that thinks it was robbed of a regional? The Wildcats can get on base, with seven members of the starting lineup sporting an OBP of more than .400, and they can do some damage as well -- five starters have slugging percentages of better than .500. The pitching has been a bit uneven at times, with a 3.82 ERA that puts them at sixth in the nine-team Big 12. (Don't ask.) The batting average being 38 points higher than the second-best team in the league made up for that. The last time SEC fans saw the Wildcats, they were beating the Kentucky Wildcats back when Kentucky was still good. They also have two wins against fellow regional member Wichita State this year.

(2) Arkansas
RPI: 31
Record: 37-20, 18-11 SEC

Anybody who's been paying attention to college baseball over the last few days knows the Razorbacks' story: A strong close the season convinced many fans and more than a few impartial observers that Arkansas deserved a chance to host a regional, and they didn't get one. Here's there chance to prove the selection committee was wrong. Leading the charge on offense will be Brian Anderson, who had a .958 OPS this year. You know the starting rotation and its sterling ERAs: Ryne Stanek (1.40), Randall Fant (1.92) and Barrett Astin (1.94). Opponents are batting just .210 against the staff as a whole.

(3) Bryant
RPI: 44
Record: 44-16-1, 27-5 Northeast

The Bulldogs were winless in their first seven games, including the bizarre tie with Houston Baptist caused by (seriously) curfew. They would rally from that dismal start to win the Northeastern Conference, which I guess is sort of the SEC's evil twin, and clinch their spot in the tournament. Bryant did beat both Ohio State and a dreadful Boston College team at least once this season, so an upset isn't entirely out of the question. Kevin Brown has an eye-popping 1.055 OPS, including a .505 on-base percentage. That's right -- between his 77 hits and 47 walks, Brown reaches base a majority of the time. The Bulldogs' pitchers average 7.9 strikeouts a game, and only one of their pitchers with more than 12 innings pitched has an ERA over 3.00.

(4) Wichita State
RPI: 103
Record: 39-26, 15-6 MVC

The Shockers -- call them Shocks -- won the conference tournament to get here, as the RPI suggests. But they aren't pushovers. Casey Gillaspie slugged 10 home runs and leads the team with a .447 on-base percentage. Wichita State has also stolen 85 bases on 110 attempts. But the quality of pitching depends entirely upon who has the ball. And that could be the downfall of a team like Wichita State in a tournament like this one.

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