WHO: No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (18-6, 8-1 ACC) at No. 19 Indiana (15-5, 1-1 Big Ten)
WHEN: Tuesday, 5:05 PM.
WHERE: Bart Kaufman Field; Bloomington, Indiana.
3 Things to Watch:
1. How long will Scott Effross last? If a starter can be brilliant while only throwing 11 pitches, Scott Effross was just that last week when he made what basically amounted to a rehab start against Valpo. Given his effectiveness and the quick trigger Lemonis had when pulling him, it was a bit of a surprise to not see him listed as a probable starter for the weekend series at Penn State. But as soon as that list came out, my mind immediately came to this huge non-conference showdown. A win against Louisville would go a long way for the Hoosiers come May. And who would you rather have starting?
Still, you have to wonder how long Effross can go. On what should be a cold, rainy night, I certainly don't expect him to go any longer than five innings, and wouldn't be surprised to see him pulled after about 60 or 70 pitches, which on a good, efficient night could give him four innings. Look for Brian Hobbie, Thomas Belcher, and Evan Bell in relief as Lemonis tries to get the game to Harrison and Halstead.
2. Can the Hoosiers stop booting the ball all around the ballpark? You know Sunday's story. Eight errors. Eight. In one game. We saw that eight errors in one game can allow even the most dreadful teams to take one from the big boys, as Penn State scored 13 unanswered runs to stun Indiana. Commit eight against a top-10 team? Everyone at the Bart will be begging for a mercy rule. Of course, that's not to say that seven is the magic number. Seven will produce the same result.
Louisville already bats .275 as a team. Add in a team ERA of 2.68 and a runs against average of 3.7, and even a couple errors will spell disaster for Indiana. In other words, this appears that it may be an uphill climb for the Hoosiers who are averaging just under 2 errors per game.
3. Does Chris Lemonis have anything up his sleeve for his old team? Lemonis was an assistant at Louisville from 2007-2014 and helped lead the Cardinals to three College World Series appearances. In 2013, Lemonis was named Baseball America's Assistant Coach of the Year. All that time and success in Louisville had to give the Hoosier skipper some sort of insight on the Cards. While this may not be basketball or football where a coach's knowledge and strategies can consistently attack the weaknesses of an opponent, baseball does have its moments -- stealing signs, a pitcher's tell, a batter's hot and cold zones. If the game stays close, Lemonis may have a strategic upper hand.