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Arizona baseball: Wildcats release 2017 schedule

Finally a year that ends with a conference series

College World Series - Arizona v Coastal Carolina - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

After being set for a while now, the Arizona Wildcats have officially released their 2017 baseball schedule.

Here’s a look at the entire thing, or you can pull up the full PDF:

@ArizonaBaseball

For the second consecutive year, Arizona will be participating in a neutral site “tournament”, travelling to Frisco, Texas to play Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska. The Wildcats faced two of those teams last year — Nebraska in the Tony Gwynn Classic, and OSU in the College World Series.

Many players credited last year’s trip to the Tony Gwynn Classic for their success in the postseason, and will be able to draw from the weekend experience in Frisco again this year. They will also have a quality road game right after it by going to Texas Tech the following Tuesday.

“I felt like the San Diego thing was so positive for us last year, and it felt like the NCAA Tournament when we were out there,” head coach Jay Johnson said at a press conference this fall. “We played Tulane, who was a Regional team. We played Nebraska, who was a Regional team, and we ended up playing San Diego State, which was like playing a home team in a Regional. I thought that was really great for us, and it’s hard to simulate that in the regular season.”

“We don’t have a Pac-12 Tournament, so I think grabbing one or two of those a year is really positive, and Frisco this year...is going to be a great trip or swing for us.”

I am going to try and get to Frisco, mostly to hang out in the lazy river they have in the outfield.

In 2018, Arizona will once again take part in the Tony Gwynn Classic, and will also participate in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge, which will be held in the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium.

Here are a few of the most notable things from the 2017 schedule:

  • The home and season opener are on February 17th against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels
  • The team’s first eight true road games are against: Texas Tech (one game), Cal State Fullerton (one game), UCLA (three-game series), and Oregon State (three-game series). That’s crazy
  • There are four four-game road trips (Frisco/Texas Tech, Cal State Fullerton/UCLA, Washington State/Grand Canyon, and Stanford/Santa Clara)
  • Arizona will play Grand Canyon twice; once in Tucson and once in Phoenix
  • ASU will travel to Tucson for midweek non-conference games on April 4th and May 9th. Arizona travels to Phoenix Muni for a three-game conference series May 19-21.
  • Defending Pac-12 champion Utah will be in Tucson April 21-23
  • For the first time in several seasons, the weekend Arizona skips conference play does not come at the end of the season. The Wildcats will travel to College of Charleston May 12-14 before finishing the year with the ASU and Cal series. C of C finished 68th in the RPI last year

Overall, I love the road-heavy strength of schedule on this slate. While the non-conference home opponents aren’t exactly the best, that’s not how you build up your RPI case anyway. The baseball schedule is actually comparable to the men’s basketball schedule in that regard this year.

I also enjoy that Arizona will go to Grand Canyon. The Lopes are likely to be a pretty good team this year, and the Wildcats taking advantage of another in-state D-1 opponent to get a road game like that is nice to see right away.

And finally, the way the schedule ends is far superior to how it has ended recently. Getting a quality road opponent in College of Charleston, followed with the ASU and Cal series should really give this club some legit tests heading into a potential Regional scenario.

*The Pac-12 hasn’t finalized TV dates yet, so some Friday-Sunday conference series may get shifted a day up or back depending on TV*