The #8 Rice Owls begin the first round of NCAA Regional play this weekend at home against Arkansas, Sam Houston State, and Prairie View A&M. The winner of the double elimination format will go on to play the winner of the Waco Regional next week in the Super Regionals. This is Rice's 10th time to host in the last 12 years.
Here is the schedule for this weekend's games:
Friday, June 1
Game 1: No. 3 Sam Houston State (38-20) vs. No. 2 Arkansas (39-19) (ESPN3, 2 p.m.)
Game 2: No. 4 Prairie View (28-33) vs. No. 1 Rice (40-17)* (ESPN3, 7 p.m.)
Saturday, June 2
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser (ESPN3, 2 p.m.)
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner (ESPN3, 7 p.m.)
Sunday, June 3
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser (ESPN3, 2 p.m.)
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner (ESPN3, 7 p.m.)
Monday June 4
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (ESPN3, 7 p.m.) (if necessary)
Despite not securing a national seed after going 1-2 in the C-USA Tournament, Rice (40-17) is in pretty good position to move on to Super Regionals, especially considering matchups given to some of the national seeds. They'll play a pretty weak Prairie View A&M (20-21) that went a paltry 1-12 in non-conference play on Friday while Sam Houston (38-20) plays Arkansas (39-19). Sam Houston should give Arkansas a good game, but their pitching probably won't be able to keep up with the Hogs. Sam Houston did go 1-1 against Rice this season. Arkansas has been very streaky this season, going 16-14 in SEC play and winning half their conference series. Depending on which Hog team shows up, they could either be very dangerous (like when they won 2 of 3 against Florida) or offer little resistance (like when they 1 run over two games in the conference tournament).
Assuming Rice shakes off their disappointing performance in the conference tourney, the Owls should sweep their Regional rather easily. This regional likely won't have much in the way of upsets, and should see the teams finish in order with A&M leaving first, followed by Sam Houston and Arkansas.