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Breaking down FSU baseball’s 2018 schedule

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

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida State vs LSU Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

On February 16th, the Florida State Seminoles will rush onto the diamond hoping to once again end their season in Omaha. And once again life in the ACC will make that a difficult but reachable task. The ACC starts the season with five teams in D1Baseball’s Top 25 and FSU has to play three of them in their first six ACC series. Just like in any other sport, context matters, so let’s split FSU schedule into stages and measure if the ‘Noles are up to the task.

Early Season Non-Conference Games

While FSU does not generally schedule major teams out of conference, it does open with the reigning Big East Champion and winners of three of the last four Big East Tournaments, the Xavier Muketeers. The ’Noles rotational depth will be tested when the Troy Trojans make the trip down to Tallahassee for a weekend set and could give the ‘Noles a solid challenge. FSU will then hit the road for a single mid-week game in Jacksonville against the Dolphins before wrapping up the early season non-conference slate with three games against UNC-Ashville and two mid-week games against Kansas.

While the entirety of these 13 games should not be a huge challenge, early season games do stretch the pitching staff, and the Seminoles expect to use a few freshmen out of the pen— so things can get dicey. A record of 10-3 is probably a fair prediction to look for here as FSU tries to figure out the back of its rotation.

Opening ACC Play

The ‘Noles start ACC play with a Wake Forest team that will be looking to rebuild after barely missing a trip to Omaha but still has some good talent that could push the Deacs into another post-season berth. A mid-week trip to Gainesville to take the top-ranked rival Gators is followed by a homestand against Notre Dame and a mid-week bout against South Florida.

There isn’t much the ‘Noles should fear here. Dropping a game to Wake Forest is nothing to be ashamed about, and the same goes for USF; a loss to Florida should be expected. A record of 7-2 would be solid here.

The Meat of the Schedule

Remember how we said FSU would face three of the five ranked ACC teams? Well, here they come. Florida State travels to a very good North Carolina club, stops at Jacksonville for a mid-week spot against Florida, and then back home for another likely top 25 matchup with Louisville. That’s as tough of a stretch as anybody will have in 2018. A mid-week hosting of Jacksonville is followed by a weekend bout in Atlanta against Georgia Tech and then another midweek game against Florida and a home series with Duke.

A record of 8-7 is probably a conservative expectation here, but this is a nasty schedule.

Finishing up

While the rest of the schedule is no cake walk, it is significantly easier than the previous 15 games. Two home games against Stetson, a weekend series against Boston College, and a mid-week game at Stetson should be a good palate cleanser before a weekend home stand against a Miami team looking to make it back to the postseason. The final road trip of the year is a matchup with Clemson followed by a mid-week home game against Jacksonville and a tune-up series against Mount St. Mary’s. The season concludes with a three-game series in Dick Howser against North Carolina State.

The Seminoles could end the season as one of the hottest teams in the country with a record down the stretch of 14-5.

If these predictions are correct then FSU will end the season 39-17 with a conference record of around 19-11. A respectable record in that difficult March/April stretch should set the ‘Noles up for another national seed.