The first two months of the college baseball season have flown by, and there are only a few weeks left before conference tournaments, and just a month until the NCAA regionals get underway.
So it's time to take a look at some of the conference races in the major conferences and around the region to see who's likely to come out on top and claim a league championship this spring. We'll take a look at each of the major conferences as well as a number of smaller conferences who have impending races of interest.
In the Atlantic Division, Florida State (35-7, 19-5) is 3.5 games up on N.C. State (30-13, 15-8), but that lead was 6.5 games two weeks ago before the Seminoles went 2-4 against Miami and North Carolina, and the Wolfpack went 5-1 against Virginia Tech and Boston College.
In the Coastal, Miami (36-5, 20-2) has a 2.5 game lead over North Carolina (38-8, 18-5), while Virginia (32-15, 13-11) is the only other team in the conference over .500 in conference play.
Texas A&M has rode an incredible hot streak to take control of the Big 12 heading into the last few weeks. The Aggies (37-7, 18-3) have won 15 straight conference games (five straight sweeps) and 20 of 21 games overall. Rob Childress' club is 2.5 games ahead of Nebraska (32-8, 15-5), and four ahead of hard-charging Oklahoma St. (32-11, 14-7), who has won nine games in a row.
Stanford (25-13-2, 10-5) and Arizona St. (35-7, 10-5) are tied atop the conference standings, though the Cardinal have the edge due to their series win over the Sun Devils. Oregon St. (20-14, 8-7) is the only other team over .500 in conference play, but it's still pretty tight overall, as only 3.5 games separate the top two and eighth-placed Washington (25-16, 5-7).
Things got a little closer in both the East and the West last weekend, as the division leaders both lost series.
In the East, overall conference leader Georgia lost their first SEC series, dropping two of three at Florida. However, the Bulldogs (29-14-1, 15-5-1) are still 3.5 games ahead of the Gators (27-16, 12-9). Everyone else in the East is over .500 in conference play, as opposed to the West, which has only leader Ole Miss with a winning record.
However, the Rebels' (28-17) 11-10 conference record is equal to that of the bottom teams in the East (Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee), and after their home series loss to Arkansas, Ole Miss is only a game ahead of Alabama (25-21, 10-11). LSU (28-16-1, 9-11-1), who swept South Carolina at home, and Arkansas (26-18, 9-11) are both 1.5 back.
Cal State Fullerton (26-15, 11-4) has a 1.5 game advantage over UC Santa Barbara (29-13, 8-4) and Long Beach St. (26-15, 8-4). UC Davis (26-15, 7-5) and 2007 champion UC Riverside (13-25, 7-5) are 2.5 back, while UC Irvine (28-10, 6-6) is 3.5 back.
The leader of C-USA is no surprise, as Rice, who has won the conference in each of its first two seasons as a member, is well on their way to another conference title. The Owls (34-11, 15-3) are 4.5 games up on Southern Mississippi (31-13, 9-6) and Tulane (29-13-1, 8-5).
Other Notable Conferences
It looks like the Southern Conference is going to come down to Elon and College of Charleston. The Cougars of CofC (30-14, 13-5) are currently half a game behind the Phoenix (33-14, 15-6), though they have one more series remaining than Elon. However, they might have a tougher road, as two of their three remaining series are on the road, including this weekend's series at UNC-Greensboro (26-17, 11-7), who's only 2.5 back. But, the team to watch out for might be Furman (26-15, 12-6, 1.5 back), who has won 11 of their last 12 conference games and has swept their last three SoCon series, including a sweep of the Cougars a few weeks ago.
The Sun Belt is Louisiana-Monroe's to lose. The Warhawks (29-14, 18-6) are 3.5 games ahead of Florida Atlantic (25-17, 12-7) and Troy (29-13, 12-8), and have only two conference series remaining. However, those two series are at South Alabama (26-19, 11-10) and at home against Troy, so they won't have an easy route to the regular-season title.
In the Southland, Texas San-Antonio (32-12, 17-4) has the best record in the conference and a three-game lead over Texas State in the West Division, while Northwestern State (23-19, 14-7) has a half-game lead over Lamar in the East.
UNC-Wilmington (33-9, 18-2) has been rolling in the CAA, but James Madison (30-11, 18-5) has been too, and is only 1.5 games back. The Dukes have an excellent chance to nab the top seed in the CAA tourney, as they are one of three tough opponents the Seahawks have to face over the last three weekends - vs. fourth-placed George Mason (22-21, 14-8), at JMU, and vs. fifth-placed Old Dominion (21-21, 12-10).
In the Atlantic Sun, Florida Gulf Coast (29-12, 19-5) has had an excellent debut season in Division I, and leads Lipscomb (23-20, 17-10) by 3.5 games with three weekends to go. However. the Eagles are ineligible for postseason play, and so are third-placed Kennesaw State (24-22, 15-9), fourth-placed North Florida (24-19, 13-11), and fifth-placed South Carolina-Upstate (21-25, 14-13). Rules are rules, eh?
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