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2016 South Carolina Baseball Season Preview: Preseason Rankings and Expectations

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Let's take a look at where the Gamecocks are to start off the season

Opening Day for South Carolina is this Friday and it's time to preview the 2016 season and get excited about Gamecock baseball! We're starting out with a look at the preseason rankings and expectations for the Gamecocks. Below are the top 25 rankings for each of the five biggest college baseball polls. South Carolina's opponents are italicized.

D1 Baseball Baseball America USA Today Coaches Poll Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball
1 Florida Florida Florida Florida Florida
2 Louisville Louisville Louisville Louisville Louisville
3 Vanderbilt Texas A&M Vanderbilt Texas A&M Vanderbilt
4 Texas A&M Virginia Texas A&M Vanderbilt Miami
5 Oregon State Oregon State LSU LSU Texas A&M
6 Miami Miami Miami Oregon State Louisiana-Lafayette
7 LSU Vanderbilt Virginia Oklahoma State LSU
8 Oklahoma State California Oregon State California Oregon State
9 California Oklahoma State UCLA Virginia Virginia
10 NC State UCLA Oklahoma State Louisiana-Lafayette UCLA
11 UCLA LSU TCU Miami Mississippi State
12 Southern California Houston California Oregon Cal State Fullerton
13 Virginia Louisiana-Lafayette Louisiana-Lafayette NC State California
14 Oregon Oregon Florida State UCLA Oregon
15 Mississippi State Michigan Oregon Missouri TCU
16 North Carolina Southern California Cal State Fullerton Houston Florida State
17 South Carolina Florida State Mississippi State Mississippi State Missouri State
18 Louisiana-Lafayette TCU Houston TCU Houston
19 TCU NC State NC State Oklahoma Tulane
20 Florida State Mississippi State Southern California Florida State Rice
21 Cal State Fullerton Oklahoma North Carolina Coastal Carolina Georgia Tech
22 Houston Cal State Fullerton Arkansas North Carolina North Carolina
23 Texas Coastal Carolina South Carolina Michigan Michigan
24 Coastal Carolina Ole Miss Rice Notre Dame Arkansas
25 Arkansas Kentucky Missouri State Texas Tech Oklahoma State

It's no surprise that after last year's massive letdown, nobody is very high on the Gamecocks heading into the 2016 season. South Carolina only appears in the top 25 in two polls, though they are ranked 35th by Collegiate Baseball.

The national expectations for the Gamecocks obviously range a good bit from poll to poll, but with the exception of D1 Baseball everyone believes they're somewhere outside of the top 20. The 2016 team shouldn't be as bad as the 2015 team was (although in fairness, the 2015 team shouldn't have been as bad as it was), but until they demonstrate that there are massive improvements, it's hard to argue against the national perception of where the South Carolina program is.

It is possible for Carolina to turn things around quickly this season with the new, talented players and with improved play from returning players. If Carolina baseball can get back to the level that it should be at, there will be plenty of opportunities for the team to prove itself against tough competition and move up in the rankings. Preseason rankings are, by their very nature, based on guesswork and therefore susceptible to being dramatically wrong. However, it is noteworthy that the Gamecocks have at least five preseason top 25 opponents no matter which poll is used and that nine different Carolina opponents are ranked in at least one poll. Three of South Carolina's conference opponents are consensus top 5 teams and Florida is at the top across the board.

Stay tuned throughout the rest of the week for a breakdown of the different parts of the 2016 Gamecock baseball team as we count down to Opening Day!