Happy Father’s Day, Tiger fans!

The waiting is over. The speculation is over, the previews are over. It’s time to rock ‘n’ roll. LSU kicks off its first College World Series in the Paul Mainieri era today at 6 when LSU takes on North Carolina. All week here, we’ve broken down for you the Carolina team and they are as quality a team as there is in the country.

Mainieri will hand the ball to LSU’s Friday night pitcher, Ryan Verdugo and the key for Verdugo will be to avoid the slow start that plagued him in his last outing against UC Irvine.

Above all else, nerves are the one thing that will make me most nervous about this LSU team, because no one on LSU’s roster has played under the bright lights of Rosenblatt Stadium.

The Tar Heels will hand the ball to sophomore Alex White who holds a 10-3 record with a 2.75 ERA on the season.

As a team, the Heels sport the nation’s best 2.83 team ERA.

Keys to LSU victory:
1. Avoid slow start- lots of inexperienced kids can not be just “happy to be here.”
2. Work White- Make White throw pitches and be patient.
3. Keep UNC leadoff hitter Dustin Ackley off base. For the season, Ackley has an OBP above .500.

Keys for UNC victory:
1. Contain the top of the LSU batting order- If no one is on base for Clark and Dean, then they can not hurt you.
2. Record balanced hitting. The Heels have a top-to-bottom dominant hitting club, so they will need all of the help they can get to match LSU’s also potent attack.
3. Error free baseball. Teams can not afford to give the Tigers’ extra outs.

It should be a fun game and I look forward to giving a recap of it for you all tomorrow.

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What do you know? Ole Casey was 0-2 in his first College World Series picks. In the opening game of the tournament, Stanford destroyed the nation’s No. 4 seed Florida State 16-5, pushing the Noles to the loser’s bracket for the third straight weekend.

The Cardinal scored a resounding 11 ninth-inning runs breaking a 5-5 tie to seal the win.

The Cardinal will next meet No. 8 Georgia, who also used ninth inning heroics yesterday to beat the nation’s top seed Miami 7-4. The Bulldogs used four ninth inning runs off Miami closer and first round pick Carlos Gutierrez to move ahead and seal the win.

Fellow first rounder, Bulldogs closer Joshua Fields recorded the final four outs for the SEC Regular Season Champions.

Any team left in the current field can realistically win the entire song and dance, which makes this tournament all the more exciting.

With six of the nation’s eight seeds still standing, there will be some big time names and big time teams on the field in Rosenblatt Stadium.

Much more on the tournament as it progresses.

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I said yesterday that Tiger Woods was possibly the most dominant athlete of all-time pound for pound. Forget the possibly: Mr. Woods is the best of all-time. Fighting a poor start for the third straight day, a brutal golf course and a barking knee, Woods fired off a -4 finish in the final six holes to take a one-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Woods walked (with a limp) up to the 13th hole +3 on his day, but Woods promptly reached the green in two, albeit with 70+ feet left. Woods promptly sunk that putt for eagle and he was just getting started.

With drive after drive putting Woods in pain to the brink of falling to his knees at one point, the world’s best player chipped in off the green on 17 and then made a similar snake on 18 for eagle to take the lead.

Lee Westwood and Rocco Mediate are the only other players currently under par with Westwood one shot off the pace and Mediate two behind Woods’ -3.

In my eyes, really only 6 players remain:

Woods: -3
Westwood: -2
Mediate: -1
Ogilvy: +1
Garcia: +3
Els: +3

It’s highly unlikely that Woods will cough up a 54 hole lead, holding a perfect slate on his career at majors when leading after three rounds, but let’s say for a minute that he knee forces him into trouble tomorrow and forces him to give up his lead, then I can see any of the above players making a move. Garcia is the real surprise of all on the list. The Spaniard was well off the pace on Thursday, but has righted the ship going -3 on his last 47 holes after a +6 start through his first seven holes.

As we’ve done all week. Here is how much picks are faring.

1. Tiger Woods: -3 (1)
2. Justin Leonard: +9 (T47)
3. Phil Mickelson: +9 (T47)
4. Sergio Garcia: +3 (T11)
5. Retief Goosen: +9 (T47)

Eight Sleepers:
1. Boo Weekley: +6 (T24)
2. Bubba Watson: MC
3. KJ Choi: MC
4. Miguel Angel Jimenez: +2 (T6)
5. Ian Poulter: MC
6. David Toms: +7 (T35)
7. Rory Sabbatini: +7 (T35)
8. Colin Montgomerie: MC

I look forward to a busy day of flipping from the end of the US Open and LSU’s baseball game tomorrow.

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The rich got richer Saturday afternoon as LSU’s women won the 2008 Outdoor Track National Championship, the second national championship the Lady Tigers won this year having also won the Indoor Title earlier this year.

The men were not far behind, finishing in a tie for second place behind eventual champions Florida State.

The women’s chase came down to the final event with LSU and Arizona State in a dead heat going into the 4X400 meter relays. The Tigers’ team of Brooklynn Morris, Kelly Baptiste, LaTavia Thomas and Deonna Lawrence pushed LSU past the Sun Devils for the title.

What a year for LSU athletics. Below are the listings of the national rankings of all of LSU’s sporting teams. This will put into perspective how dominant of a year it’s been.

Baseball: No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. No. 2 in polls
Men’s Basketball: Unranked
Women’s Basketball: Finished ranked third
Cross Country: Finished 68th of 250 teams at NCAA Championships
Football: Finished as National Champions
Men’s Golf: unranked, but made postseason play
Women’s Golf: Finished ranked 18th
Gymnastics: Finished ranked 5th
Soccer: eliminated in round of 32 in NCAA Tournament
Swimming and Diving: Men finished 17th Women finished 19th
Men’s Tennis: finished ranked 18th
Women’s Tennis: eliminated in round of 32 in NCAA Tournament
Women’s Track: National Champions
Men’s Track: Finished 2nd
Volleyball: eliminated in round of 32 in NCAA Tournament

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That’s all for me. I, like you all, have a lot to watch today.

LSU baseball, the US Open and the NBA Finals are all on the tube.

Enjoy.

-Casey

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