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April 26, 2007

SCS.comThe upcoming weekend in college baseball features top conference matchups along with a few big rivalry games. Meaningful contests in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, and Big West take place this weekend, and they’ll all be worth keeping note of. We take an inside look at the premier matchups of the weekend, which see #4 Texas at #12 Oklahoma State, #2 Vanderbilt hosting Florida, and #14 Pepperdine at San Diego. Also, the rivalry series between #6 North Carolina and North Carolina State continues along with Mississippi hosting Mississippi State. Other series to watch, including the mid-major series of the week, are noted in this weekend’s preview.

#4 Texas (34-12,14-4 Big 12) at #12 Oklahoma State (31-10,10-5 Big 12)

Augie Garrido’s Texas Longhorns travel north to Stillwater this weekend to face the powerful Oklahoma State Cowboys. The two Big 12 opponents are the best in the conference and their records show it. Longhorn OF Kyle Russell leads the nation in HR’s with 24 and also boosts an RBI total of 62. Texas’ offense, with the help of Bradley Suttle and Chance Wheeless, is carried on Russell’s shoulders. Pitchers Adrian Alaniz and James Russell help the Longhorns win Big 12 series every weekend.

Their Big 12 foe this weekend, the Cowboys, also hit homeruns, as seen with their team number on the year of 62. Corey Brown and Tyler Mach carry one of the nation’s best offenses every weekend in the Big 12. The key to this Big 12 weekend will be if OK State’s starters, who have been fairly mediocre for the year, can get the job done and pitch effectively. The Cowboys are a good enough club to win a series against a top 5 team. National Series of the Week.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 2-1

Florida (23-20,10-8 SEC) at #2 Vanderbilt (36-8,12-6 SEC)

The Gators venture from Gainesville this weekend to Nashville to take on the #2 Commodores. Florida, coming off a series win at home against Kentucky, looks to take an SEC East series against arguably the best team in the nation. Like usual, Matt LaPorta is producing exceptionally for Pat McMahon’s squad this year and leads the team with 16 jacks. UF has gotten those timely hits this year and that’s the reason for their SEC success.

SEC East leading Vanderbilt is coming off a very close weekend sweep of instate rival Tennessee. Vandy got the big hits as evidenced by their walk-off win in Sunday’s game to record the sweep. OF Dominic De La Osa has been hot as of late and as usual, David Price has been dominant. Closer Casey Weathers is the best at his position in the nation. Look for the #2 Dores to get all the big hits and win another series in the SEC East.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 2-1

#14 Pepperdine (30-13,10-2 Big West) at San Diego (32-14,10-2 Big West)

The Waves travel to San Diego this weekend for a crucial Big West matchup. Two teams whose conference records are 10-2 face each other this weekend and whoever wins will have a head start towards the conference title. Pepperdine has one of the better starters in the nation in Barry Enright, and Brett Hunter and Robert Dickmann are both good starters. Pepperdine does all the little things right and that is why they’re a top 15 club.

The Toreros, on the other hand, also look to take first place over in the Big West. Led by starters Josh Romanski and Brian Matusz, San Diego pitches extremely well. Jordan Abruzzo and Shane Buschini are the better hitters for the Toreros. The key to this Big West matchup will simply be whose starters pitch better. Look for the Toreros to come out on top this weekend at home.

Prediction: San Diego 2-1

#6 North Carolina (34-9,14-7 ACC) at NC State (27-14,11-10 ACC)

In-state rivals UNC and NC State square off this weekend for the best ACC series featured. The Tar Heels, coming off a weekend loss at FSU, look to rebound against a team that they don’t particularly care for. UNC still boasts one of the better teams in the nation and they seem to play their best in crucial games like these. All American Robert Woodard is arguably the ACC’s top pitcher. The Heels need Chad Flack to heat up, whose current average only stands at .252.

Their instate foe, the Wolfpack, is coming off being swept at Georgia Tech. NC State needs future 1st rounder Andrew Brackman to pitch better if they want to compete with the Tar Heels in this series. The Wolfpack plays fundamentally sound baseball and like Pepperdine, do all of the little things right. Look for UNC to bounce back this weekend in a close series in Raleigh.

Prediction: UNC 2-1

Mississippi State (26-10,9-7 SEC) at Mississippi (28-15,10-8 SEC)

The annual Egg Bowl, baseball style, takes place this weekend in Oxford. The Bulldogs, coming off dropping a series at LSU, look to steal a series from their enemy, the Rebels. MSU needs to hit a lot better than they did the past weekend in order to accomplish this feat on the road. Brandon Turner and Edward Easley lead an MSU offense which leads the SEC in batting with a .340 team average. Chad Crosswhite has taken the Friday night starter role well and has thrived for the most part in it.

Mississippi, on the other hand, is coming off a very important home series win against top 10 ranked South Carolina. Lance Lynn pitched a gem last Saturday, striking out 12 in a shutout performance. Will Kline also has the ability to be dominant and that is what UM needs from him this weekend to slow down the MSU offense. The key to this instate rivalry will be whose club opens up the weekend with the win, which in turn will give UM or MSU the much needed momentum. Look for Kline and Lynn to carry the Rebels to a series win at home.

Prediction: Mississippi 2-1

Other Series to Watch

#1 Florida State at Miami (FL)
Coming off a huge weekend win against UNC, the Noles travel to Miami to face the Hurricanes, who swept Virginia Tech the past weekend. Look for FSU’s offense and starting pitching to carry them to an ACC series road win.

#8 South Carolina at Alabama
After losing a series away at Mississippi, the Gamecocks look to rebound against the struggling Crimson Tide. This is a make or break weekend for Alabama. Watch South Carolina hit the long ball and win the series in Tuscaloosa.

#15 Arizona at UCLA The Wildcats travel to Los Angeles this weekend to play the Bruins, whose Pac 10 record currently stands at 8-1. Arizona is coming off a weekend loss against Washington State. Look for UCLA to win more Pac 10 games, which leads them to another series victory.

Mid-Major Series of the Week

Evansville at #11 Wichita State

The Purple Aces travel to Wichita this weekend for a nice looking MVC matchup. Evansville’s 9-6 MVC record shows they can compete against quality teams. The Shockers are one of the nation’s better teams, even being in a mid-major conference. Look for Wichita State to at least win the series and possibly even sweep Evansville out of Wichita.

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