While challenging, the Louisville Regional appears manageable.
The host Cardinals are a stout 46-12 and won the Big East regular-season championship, yet were quickly ousted from the Big East Conference Tournament with an 0-2 trip, despite being the No. 1 seed.
Bowling Green is one of this postseason's major surprises, arriving at 24-29, after upsetting its way to the Mid-American Conference Tournament title, seizing the league's automatic berth.
And while Miami carries a premium pedigree, these 'Canes don't appear to be of vintage stock. They finished fifth in the ACC's Coastal Division with the eighth-best conference record overall at 14-16. In league play, Miami ranks 11th among 12 teams in batting average (. 260) and runs scored (3.7 per game), with its 13 home runs tying for last. David Thompson leads the club with a .272 average, with no other 'Canes hitter better than .265.
“We're playing the 2013 Miami Hurricanes, not the big program they put out there,” said OSU center fielder Sauyler Saxon. “And they're playing the 2013 Cowboys.
“It's fun, because it's a name. But you also have to realize what they're putting out there. We feel like we can compete with those guys.”
Miami's strength is its pitching, especially at the front of the rotation. And consider, too, that the Canes played the nation's toughest schedule, according to Warren Nolan's respected RPI calculations.
“Miami is a very good team,” Holliday said. “We know we'll be playing against a group of guys who are postseason savvy. They win in the postseason. And their tradition and the DNA of that program is very strong. It's a challenge right away.”
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Oklahoma State and Miami, two of college baseball's most storied programs, have met seven times previously, with the 'Canes holding a 4-3 edge. Three of the meetings have come in the College World Series, where OSU won in 1981 (12-6) and Miami won in '85 (2-1) and '86 (6-2).
Independently, they rank among the sport's all-time best:
Category, OSU (Rk), Miami (Rk)
Most NCAA Appearances, 39 (4), 42 (3)
Most CWS Appearances, 19 (6), 23 (2)
Most CWS Titles, 1 (t15), 4 (t5)
Most NCAA Wins, 134 (t), 176 (2)
All-Time Win Pct., .664 (8), .710 (3)*
* entering this season