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BASEBALL PREVIEW: Snowbird Baseball Classic

Indiana sits at 4-4 after two solid weekends and one disastrous one. This weekend, the Hoosiers have four games in three days. Can they get back above .500 before baseball returns to Bloomington on Tuesday?

The Hoosiers practice last night after arriving in Port Charlotte.
The Hoosiers practice last night after arriving in Port Charlotte.

WHAT: You're telling me you've never heard of the Snowbird Baseball Classic? Well, it's a big ass collegiate baseball showcase that allows northern schools to go to Port Charlotte, Florida, and get away from this crappy weather. And when I say "big ass," I mean I mean Vince Wilfork-, Prince Fielder-, Khloe Kardashian-sized ass. This thing started on February 13 and will end on April 1.

A lot of teams head down to Port Charlotte more than once. Villanova, one of the opponents IU will see this weekend played down there last weekend too. In total, 29 Division I teams and 24 Division III teams (Go Wabash!) will play in Port Charlotte over these six or seven weeks. This will be the Hoosiers' only trip, but they'll get their money worth, playing four games in three days.

WHERE: I just told you it's in Port Charlotte, Florida. Port Charlotte is in the heart of Spring Training country, right between Sarasota and Fort Myers. That's all I know or care to know about the place. Perhaps this site's EIC could do a traveler's guide, but since there is no opponent to make fun of by doing so, it's probably pointless.

WHO: Villanova Wildcats. Nova is 4-7, a record which includes losses to Northwestern (ouch) and Incarnate Word (ew). They scored 21 runs in their last game, a 17-run win over Mount St. Mary's. Take that however you please, but a loss to Villanova would be as bad as the losses to Presbyterian and Furman.

Dartmouth Big Green. Dartmouth baseball doth also stinketh. They're 0-3 after being swept by Texas A&M last weekend. No shame in losing those three, but there may be shame in going 11-9 in the Ivy League last year. There's not a lot of baseball history in the Ivies. This game, also, would be a bad loss for Indiana. But it's a must-win for another reason. I am of the opinion that anytime Indiana plays Dartmouth in anything, it is the duty of everyone in cream and crimson to punish those bastards for sending us Rick Greenspan, Grace Calhoun, and co. Never forget.

St. Joseph's Hawks. Another Philadelphia school. Another bad baseball team. St. Joseph's is 1-5. They dropped two after winning the opener against Loyola Marymount and then got waxed by South Carolina-Upstate last weekend. Quality.

Ball State Cardinals. This one isn't a laugher on paper. Ball State is 6-5 right now, after having won a game on Tuesday in Port Charlotte against Maine. They started the season ranked 31st and clearly appear to be the most formidable opponent IU will see this weekend. IU will also face the Cards later this season in Muncie.

WHEN: Villanova, Friday at 2PM. Dartmouth, Friday at 6PM. St. Joseph's, Saturday at 7PM. Ball State, Sunday at 10AM.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Last weekend I wrote that I wasn't in the prediction game anymore because the first two weekends were so drastically different. But last weekend went the way I secretly expected. I figured each team would get at least one but that the Hoosiers would take the series. The finale was rained out, so let's assume that IU would have won and I'm Nostrabaseballus.

This weekend, 3-1 would be a good trip, for a couple reasons. First, the doubleheader. You never know how the club will hold up playing two this early in the season. Second, Scott Effross won't pitch this weekend due to soreness. Lemonis says that sitting him is just precautionary. The soreness probably isn't much to worry about. It's March 6. It's still early enough that the cobwebs haven't been fully dusted off.

Instead, Evan Bell will start today at 2PM against Villanova. Christian Morris will remain the second starter, facing Dartmouth tonight at 6PM. Then, Caleb Baragar will make his first start of the season on Saturday before Jake Kelzer takes the finale against Ball State. So, winning three will depend on at least one of the non-regular weekend starters.

But three wins against this competition isn't out of question by any means.