Welcome back folks. Actually, welcome us back. We missed last week’s rankings due to our hero Prince’s death. If you missed it, give my write up on Prince a read. It’s a sad tale, but also one filled with hope. Much like those Jazz Festers who stood in the rain, or maybe the gospel tent, wondering why they had such bad luck, but then said the heck with it and went for a swim in the flooded Fair Grounds infield. Which, if you think about it, is really gross.
All-Louisiana Top 12
#1 Tulane Green Wave (28-14)
Right when the Green Wave’s ship started to flounder, they corrected course by crushing Southern Mississippi 12-0, sweeping University of Central Florida on the road, and completing a season sweep of the LSU Tigers in front of a record 5,215 fans. The team rolled into a crucial weekend series against the University of Houston Cougars (24-17) – a team in desperate need of a conference series win – in a battle of the preseason’s top-two rated American Athletic Conference teams, and split the series before the pesky Jazz Fest rain washed out the rubber match.
#2 Southeastern Louisiana University Lions (31-13)
I hear you yelling, Hammond. You’re correct. The Lions did sweep the season series against the Green Wave. Unfortunately, the Lions put up a losing record (5-6) over the next 11 contests. Sure, it was a tough stretch featuring losses to No. 22 South Alabama, No. 21 UL-Lafayette, and No. 7 LSU; but, it was a time when the Lions could’ve kicked the door in on the national Top 20, but it didn’t happen. The Lions are still sitting in the catbird seat (whatever that is) on top of the Southland Conference, one game ahead of Sam Houston State.
#3 LSU Tigers (28-16)
Last week’s 4-1 loss to the Green Wave, followed by a series loss to Ole Miss, has sent an unsettling tremor through Tiger nation. Reporters are asking Coach Paul Mainieri what can be done. And Mainieri is still hopeful, and taking the, “if you have anything negative to say, you say it about me and not my team,” approach. That’s called acting with class and being the boss, folks. However, there are still question marks, and the, “wait and see,” days are coming to an end, as the Tigers only have 12 more games (three of those versus No. 1 Florida), before the SEC Conference tournament kicks off. On a side note, please let the rumors of the SEC Conference tournament moving to New Orleans come to fruition. Thanks.
#4 UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (29-16)
The Cajuns have been warming up as of late, but Louisiana then stumbled a bit with mid-week losses to Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi (31-14). The Cajuns took a series win over UT-Arlington (22-20), but are still four games (with nine to go), behind South Alabama (33-12) in the Sun Belt Conference. The Ragin’ Cajuns entered the season as the favorites to win the Sun Belt. The Cajuns travel to South Alabama in two weeks in what is shaping up to be a huge series.
#5 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (27-14)
Along with UNO, the Bulldogs are the biggest surprise so far this season, entering picked to finish 11th in a 12-team conference. I guess everyone forgot to tell the Bulldogs, who, last week, completed a season sweep over UL-Lafayette, for their third Top-25 victory. The Bulldogs sit in fifth place in Conference USA – a conference I’m always surprised to still see in existence, for some reason.
#6 University of New Orleans Privateers (26-17)
I was worried about coach Blake Dean and the boys two weeks ago. It just seemed like it may have turned into a, “hot start, but then reality set in,” type of season, and then they got swept by McNeese State. But there is all kinds of fight left out on the lakefront. After putting together a seven-game win streak, the Privateers stumbled this weekend in a series loss to Central Arkansas. However, six out of their remaining nine conference games are against teams with losing records in the Southland. On the flip side, they still have to face the Southland-leading SLU Lions, but a 32-win season is still a reality. UNO isn’t going to win the conference, but fourth place is in range, which isn’t bad for a team that was picked to finish dead last.
I’m writing too much, because I missed you. This calls for the Lightning Round!
#7 Northwestern State Demons (25-18)
Are the Dark Lords trying to work some late-season dark magic? Sure, their current six-game win streak has come against sub-.500 ball clubs, but better late than never for a team that was supposed to battle Southeastern for supremacy in the Southland.
#8 McNeese State Cowboys (23-18)
Remember when I put the Cowboys at the three spot in my first All-Louisiana poll, and that guy sent me a, “Oh my gosh, that’s ridiculous,” email? No? Good. That would mean you know my password (it’s an awesome password, by the way). Anyway, since then the men of Lake Charles beat No. 24 Houston 4-1, No. 9 LSU 7-0, and took a series win over No. 25 Lamar. This is a tough team best avoided in the Southland conference tournament. Check mate, email guy. Side note – who at McNeese State agreed to play Washington State on the road to end the year? Not a good move to drag your team to the west coast four days before your conference tournament starts.
#9 Nicholls State Colonels (20-24)
This team had higher hopes entering the season than being four games under .500 at this point of the year, I assure you. However, the Colonels didn’t play like that this weekend, as they pulled out the brooms and swept McNeese State in Thibodaux.
#10 Grambling State Tigers (22-20)
The Tigers strong conference play in the SWAC continues, but Grambling will have to figure out how to beat Alabama State (21-0 in the SWAC) in the conference tournament for a shot at the NCAA regionals. And thank you to Grambling for updating their schedules. I’d like to think I played a part in that.
#11 UL-Monroe Warhawks (16-28)
Somehow took No. 7 Mississippi State into extra innings last week before falling 1-0 in the 14th inning. The Warhawks have lost seven of their last eight games.
#12 Southern University Jaguars (12-25)
Their weekend series versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff was a washout. More importantly, the Jaguars are a great example of how every kid, on all of these teams, goes out and plays their heart out for us. Last week, the Jaguars scored four in the ninth to beat South Alabama 5-4 in the first game of their series over the weekend. Congrats Jags!
So, let’s wash the Jazz Fest off of us (some of you, more than once), and have a beautiful – and definitely more sanitary – week, New Orleans.