Previewing Stanford-UNC matchup
Two traditional powers face off in the super regionals for a spot in Omaha
- Bob Donnan/US PresswireLevi Michael hopes to lead the Tar Heels to the College World Series.
To be the best, you've got to beat the best. That's the challenge facing the Stanford Cardinal this weekend, and it's one they've confronted all season. The young Stanford team played the most difficult schedule of any West Coast school this year, then swept through the Fullerton Regional as a No. 2 seed. Now they have their toughest assignment yet: travel to Chapel Hill and take two of three from the third-ranked team in the country.
Despite very different reputations entering the postseason, North Carolina and Stanford have a lot in common. They are two of best programs in recent history, both squads rely heavily on the contributions of underclassmen and while neither stood out in conference play, both showed occasional bursts of brilliance against some of the nation's top teams. Starting on Friday, they'll fight it out for one spot in Omaha.
Friday afternoon's game might be the best pitching matchup of the day, even though neither team sports a first-round draft pick for an ace. Stanford's Mark Appel, one of the Cardinal's star underclassmen, fashioned a complete-game gem to defeat Kansas State last weekend, generating 15 ground-ball outs to go with eight strikeouts. Appel hasn't put up elite numbers this year, losing six decisions with an ERA above 3.00, but he improved throughout the season. In-conference highlights include a shutout against Arizona and a win over Gerrit Cole and UCLA, making Appel the team leader in wins above replacement (WAR), with 2.6.
To see which team has the edge, become an ESPN Insider today.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE COLLEGE SPORTS HEADLINES
- NCAA considering football early signing period
- NCAA, conferences sued over scholarships
- Gay ND tennis player: Support overwhelming
- BYU's Mahoney tosses no-hitter vs. Nicholls St.
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
College Baseball on Insider
Insider has assembled a team to expand college baseball coverage in 2011. ESPN columnists Ryan McGee, Jeff Bradley and draft expert Keith Law are joined by CollegeSplits.com's Jeff Sackmann and longtime expert Will Kimmey in breaking down the top trends and stories each week.
Week of June 27
Week of June 20
Week of June 13
Week of June 6
Week of May 29
Week of May 22
Week of May 15
Week of May 8
Week of May 1
Week of April 24