There is no guarantee that Purdue and Kentucky will play in this weekend's NCAA Baseball Regional, but they are the top two seeds. Kentucky is the lone team with an SB Nation site, so I reached out to A Sea Of Blue for the usual Q&A to get to know the Wildcats. Here is what Glenn Logan had to say about the weekend:
T-Mill: Kentucky is the lone SEC school that has never made the CWS. What makes this team the one that can make it?
Glenn: I'm not sure they can, but they have beaten some of the best teams in the country and play in a conference that landed eight teams in the NCAA baseball tournament. They have played a total of three regional hosts this year -- the Florida Gators, South Carolina Gamecocks, and LSU Tigers -- and defeated 2 of the three (LSU and South Carolina) in their 3-game series.
Kentucky has a good combination of hitting, defense, and pitching, and is certainly capable of going a long way in the tournament. Can they get all the way to Omaha? Not sure.
T-Mill: What do you think was the rationale of the committee screwing you guys over and not giving you a host spot over Miami?
Glenn: We can only speculate that it was strength of schedule, with Miami at 20 and UK at 48. Miami also has a higher RPI, and finished the season a little bit better than Kentucky. I also would not be shocked to learn that after handing out 3 regionals to SEC teams, they were a touch uncomfortable making a close call in favor of the SEC on the fourth.
T-Mill: How much of a concern is a talented, experienced Kent State team in the first game?
Glenn: In baseball, you have to be concerned about every opponent, and even though this isn't "one and done," a loser's bracket is no way to start. I am very concerned with the Kent St. Golden Flashes because of their strong on-base percentage and low number of runs allowed per game. They will be a very tough out, although they don't play the kind of quality opponents week in and week out that Kentucky does.
T-Mill: Kentucky has a few Indiana connections with Matt Reida and Max Kuhn. Do they play much and who should Purdue be most concerned about should we meet?
Glenn: Matt Reida is our starting second baseman, and he is a very good defensive player, among the league leaders in assists and double plays. He is a touch error-prone, but considering how many balls he handles, not especially so. He tends to bat in the bottom of the order and is hitting only .234, but he is a good bunter and is among the league leaders in sacrifice bunts.
Max Kuhn hasn't played much this year, but he is a talent and you can expect to hear more from him next year.
T-Mill: Finally, What are your expectations for this weekend with three awfully good teams in Purdue, Kentucky, and Kent State?
Glenn: In all honesty, Kentucky has exceeded every reasonable expectation of them this year. I expect this team to compete hard and be a threat to win the regional. They have a lot of tough comp, and as much as I would like to predict success, I have to take a wait-and-see attitude.
This team is so young that the pressure may get to them. They showed some signs of youth late in the season, and had a disappointing SEC Tournament and got swept by the Mississippi St. Bulldogs in the last weekend of the season when they needed only one game to win the SEC regular-season outright. So while I am hopeful, I am also realistic. Young teams often stumble in the Big Dance.