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Breaking down the FSU baseball schedule

Where the wins — and losses — are most likely to come.

College baseball is upon us, as the Florida State Seminoles open the 2017 season this weekend at Dick Howser Stadium. Expectations are once again very high, as the ’Noles are ranked in the top five of every preseason poll. But expectations are not only high for Florida State; the rest of the ACC is stacked after sending 10 teams to postseason play in 2016. Sixty percent of the Seminoles’ conference games come against teams that are starting the season ranked in the top 25. So let’s take a look at how the schedule breaks down and what results seem reasonable.

Non-Conference Home Games

The Seminoles open the season with Virginia Commonwealth, which is a very respectable team out of the Atlantic 10 that finished last season two wins shy of 40, while Samford is a middle-of-the-road team that could steal a game from the ’Noles. The other two series are against two very poor baseball teams in Oakland and Pacific; the talent disparity between these teams is immense and FSU should not struggle with either.

Florida State should sweep at least two of these series with a goal of sweeping three— anything worse than a 10-2 record here is a disappointment.

Prime In-State Games

No. 2 Florida is coming off an excellent regular season and another disappointing postseason. During the 2016 season, the Gators went 5-1 against the ’Noles, outscoring them 29-7 while recording three shutouts. Florida reloaded and, like Florida State, is a consensus top-five team. With three games total, one home, one road, and one neutral, let’s hope FSU can come away with at least one win.

Other In-State Games

The ’Noles host one game versus a South Florida team that was below average last year and should finish near the bottom of its conference this season. With three games total against Stetson, two home and one away, it is very possible that the ’Noles drop a game here.

The three remaining teams all reside within the AAC and are very middle of the road. Jacksonville, Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast finished with a combined record of of 89-85 last season, and none of those teams have much promise of being better this year.

One of these 12 games will need to drop off the schedule because Florida State is one game over the maximum allowed by the NCAA (56). Going 8-3 against these teams is realistic and anything better is just icing on the cake.

Home ACC Games

The good news for fans is that they get to see what should be three amazing home series against top-flight teams. The bad news is that wins will be at a premium. No. 9 North Carolina, No. 15 Clemson, and No. 17 Virginia are all capable of leaving Tallahassee with a series win. Boston College and Wake Forest made regional appearances last year. While they are not expected to repeat that this season, there should be enough talent that will make sweeps difficult.

Losing only five conference games at home this season is a reasonable expectation; going 11-4 would be an accomplishment.

Away ACC Games

As you might have noticed in basketball, winning road conference games is a challenging task. The same goes for baseball, as the ’Noles went 6-7 on the road in 2016 and 7-8 in 2015. With three series against top 25 teams this year, it will once again be a struggle to finish with a winning record. Winning the series against a terrible Virginia Tech team is a must as is Notre Dame, a team that swept Florida State when the Seminoles last visited the Irish.

If the ’Noles can avoid a sweep and win at least one series against No. 6 North Carolina State, No. 22 Miami, and No. 12 Louisville, they would be on their way to finishing 8-7 on the road in conference games.

If the Seminoles fall in line with the records predicted, they will finish with a 18-12 conference record and an overall record at 37-19. While less than 40 wins in the regular season might seem like a disappointment, I would be confident that a national seed would be up for grabs given their schedule difficulty.