The baseball version of the Big Dance begins today, and you can discuss all the action with your fellow BONers right here. NCAA Sports has your live scoreboard for every game. Texas and St. John's have their first pitch at 2 PM CDT. Other notable start times are Mizzou playing Ole Miss at 11 AM CDT, Dallas Baptist against Houston at 12:30 PM, Eastern Illinois against Nebraska at 1:05, National No. 1 Seed Miami against Bethune-Cookman at 3:00, OU against Vanderbilt at 4:00, Sam Houston against Rice at 6:00, UIC against A&M at 6:30, and Western Kentucky against Okie State at 7:00.
The NCAA Baseball Tournament is a lot of fun to follow, although it takes a bit more patience than following the basketball tournament. The double-elimination format takes out some of the excitement that a "win or go home" basketball tourney brings, but baseball does not lend itself to such a system. The team with the deepest pitching staff will not necessarily win the regional/super-regional/College World Series, but it definitely has the greatest margin for error. The more solid pitchers a team has, the more opportunities it has to overcome an early loss to give itself a chance to succeed in the long slog through the losers' bracket.
In Texas' case, as Peter noted yesterday Augie Garrido has decided to start Kenn Kasparek against St. John's and save staff ace Chance Ruffin for the likely matchup with Rice on Saturday. This plan makes a lot of sense for a team like Texas, whose Achilles heel may well be its starting pitching depth. Ruffin and Big Bird have been fantastic of late, but beyond that it's a bit of a crap shoot. That means that it is absolutely vital for Texas to win its first two games--it will equalize the pitching matchup with Rice by forcing the Owls to use an extra arm in the losers' bracket game, and will give the Longhorns a coveted margin of error in having to only win one of two games to take the regional title.