The #5 Rice Owls travel to #16 UCF this weekend in a series that will decide the Conference USA regular season champion.
The Owls also need a series win in order to strengthen their resume for a national seed in the NCAA Regionals when host sites are announced May 27. They are a virtual lock for a host site, but securing a top eight national seed would guarantee that Rice would also get to host a Super Regional at home if they advance to the second round.
And if playing for a conference title while keeping their hopes alive for a national seed wasn't enough pressure, the Owls have won or shared 16 (SIXTEEN!) consecutive conference titles going back to their days in the Southwest Conference.
A UCF series win would be their first since joining Conference USA in 2005.
The winner will also be the #1 seed in the C-USA Tournament next week in Pearl, MS.
Both teams enter the last weekend of play with a 15-6 conference record and are three games ahead of Southern Miss and Tulane. Rice has the better overall record at 40-12 versus UCF's 37-14.
Rice will have to contend with some very good pitching from the Knights. UCF ace Chris Matulis sports a 2.73 ERA and a 6-0 record, while Friday's starter Ben Lively is 8-1 with a 2.97. Closer Joe Rogers doesn't make things any easier for the Owls with his 11 saves, 42 strikeouts, and 1.73 ERA.