Arizona has a long road trip ahead of it, having to fly 1,900 to south Florida for the Coral Gables Regional of the NCAA Tournament. That will provide plenty of time for the Wildcat players and coaches to study film of their opponents.
Second-seeded Arizona (37-23) takes on No. 3 Ole Miss at 4 p.m. PT Friday, while host and No. 6 national seed Miami will take on No. 4 Canisius at 9 a.m. PT. The winners and losers will meet Saturday, with two more games set for Sunday and another on tap Monday if it’s needed.
Here’s a closer look at the teams the UA will have to get through in order to reach the Super Regionals:
- Record: 39-18, 20-10 ACC (1st in Coastal Division)
- RPI: 15
- Record vs. NCAA tourney teams: 12-11
Miami went 28-8 this season at Alex Rodriguez Park—yes, that A-Rod—including 16-5 against non-ACC opponents, but the ‘Canes struggled down the stretch. They’ve lost six of eight, dropping both games in the ACC Tournament.
Coach Gino DiMare is in his fourth season at Miami, where he was an infielder from 1989-92, and he’s led the team into the tourney every year there’s been one. The program has 49 NCAA appearances, third-most in Division I history, and four national titles, but hasn’t been to Omaha since 2016 (when Arizona beat the ‘Canes in the first game) and last won it all in 2001.
Miami is the highest-scoring team in the regional, ranking 40th nationally at 7.8 runs per game, and its 4.55 ERA is 52nd in the country. The pitching staff records 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, 10th-best in Division I.
Players to know
CF Jacob Burke: A transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, Burke leads Miami with 56 RBI and is hitting .356 with 12 home runs. Last season he was 6 for 13 with four RBI and three runs scored when Arizona swept a 4-game series from the Lions at Hi Corbett Field.
1B CJ Kayfus: Kayfus has 100 hits in 97 career games with Miami, including 83 this season to lead the team and rank seventh in the ACC. He also has stolen 16 bases, one more than Arizona’s two most prolific base stealers combined.
LHP Carson Palmquist: An all-ACC first-team selection, Palmquist is 9-4 with a 3.09 ERA. Miami’s closer a year ago, he has struck out 108 batters in 78.1 innings but has also allowed 14 home runs.
RHP Andrew Walters: Walters has 13 saves this season, sixth-most in the country, and has been almost impossible to reach base against. He’s allowed 10 hits, five walks and two hit batters in 30 innings, posting a 1.20 ERA and an opponent batting average of .100.
Ole Miss Rebels
- Record: 32-22, 14-16 SEC (5th in West Division)
- RPI: 39
- Record vs. NCAA tourney teams: 12-12
The Rebels were the absolute last team into the NCAA field, per the selection committee, and their inclusion was a surprise to most experts. They lost their only game in the SEC Tournament and won just two series against conference foes that made the NCAA tourney, but that included a road sweep of LSU in mid-May that probably tipped the scales.
Mike Bianco is in his 22nd season at Ole Miss, winning more than 850 games in Oxford and getting his team into the NCAA tourney 18 times. But only one of those trips has included a stop in Omaha (2014), which some have come to say stands for “Ole Miss At Home Again.”
Ole Miss brings back most of its lineup from the team that lost at Arizona in the Super Regionals, but outside of home runs (91, 25th in the nation) it ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in nearly every offensive category. The pitching is still solid, with a 4.68 ERA, and those arms still strike out 10.7 per game.
Players to know
1B Tim Elko: The last time UA fans saw Elko, he was subbed out for a pinch runner after hitting a double late in Arizona’s 16-3 Omaha clinching win over Ole Miss. Playing most of the season on a torn ACL, he left to a standing ovation from Rebels fans, who assumed his career had ended, only to see Elko come back in 2022 and lead the team in homers (19) and RBI (61).
SS Jacob Gonzalez: A West Coast kid that former UA coach Jay Johnson said he tried very hard to bring to Tucson, Gonzalez was 5 for 11 with two homers, four RBI and five runs scored in the 2021 Super Regionals. He batted .355 as a freshman but this season is down to .276 but he has more homers (16) and walks (45) than a year ago.
RHP Dylan DeLucia: A junior college transfer who began his career at College of Charleston, DeLucia was Ole Miss’ No. 1 starter throughout SEC play and figures to be on the mound against Arizona. He’s 5-2 with a 4.57 ERA, averages a strikeout per inning and doesn’t issue many walks.
Canisius Golden Griffins
- Record: 29-23, 15-9 MAAC (3rd)
- RPI: 169
- Record vs. NCAA tourney teams: 0-3
The Golden Griffins are making their fourth appearance in the NCAA tourney, all since 2013, after winning the MAAC’s automatic bid by outscoring their conference tournament opponents 43-15 in four games. Their 6-game win streak is tied for the seventh-longest active streak in the country, but all-time they’re 0-6 in this tourney.
The small private college in Buffalo (enrollment: 2,630) gets most of its players from New York and Pennsylvania but also has 11 from five different Canadian provinces. Coach Matt Mazurek is a former Canisius player and assistant who is in his fifth season as head coach, but the real one in charge is mascot Petey Griffin.
Canisius’ offensive and pitching numbers are solid, but they have to be taken with a grain of salt since its only games against NCAA competition came in a 3-game sweep at Liberty in which its was outscored 32-8 and struck out 39 times. One thing the Griffins do well, though, is get hit by pitches (81 in 52 games).
Players to know
2B Max Grant: Grant ranks 10th in the country with a .404 batting average, staying above .400 every game since early April. He leads Canisius with 10 homers and is second with 52 RBI.
RHP Matt Duffy: Duffy picked up two wins in the MAAC tourney, throwing seven shutout innings against Niagara and then came back on three days’ rest to throw 3.1 innings of relief in the title game win over Rider that younger brother Aaron Duffy started. He has 116 strikeouts in 98 innings.