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AROUND THE COLLEGE NATION
February 10, 2005

DON'T LOOK NOW

While everyone has their focus tuned to college basketball and the conference races coming down to the wire in the coming weeks, college baseball has quietly gotten underway for many teams around the country. SCS.com released the Preseason Fab 15 last week with last year's national champion Cal State-Fullerton leading the way. And speaking of some of the top college baseball around the nation, here's a quick look at some highlights from early results around the land:

Two of the ACC favorites, Miami and Florida State, have gotten off to unbeaten starts. The Seminoles are 6-0 and will host Auburn this weekend. The Hurricanes are 4-0 and will visit in-state rival Florida in two weeks.

A couple of the preseason favorites in the Big XII, Oklahoma State and Texas, are 3-0 on the early season. The Cowboys will take part in Houston's Minute Maid Classic this weekend. The 'Horns have non-conference series at home against Stanford and on the road at Arizona before conference play begins.

Top-ranked Cal State-Fullerton dropped one of three games against Stanford this past weekend and is 2-1 on the season. Also in the Big West, Long Beach State has begun the season 5-1, the lone loss coming at Arizona State in a three-game series in Tucson. The 49ers take on Southern Cal this weekend.

Out in the PAC 10, the Arizona Wildcats, a College World Series club from a year ago, have started the season 3-0. Southern Cal's lone game was a victory over San Diego State. Stanford is 4-2 after sweeping Fresno State and winning one of three from CSF. Arizona State and UCLA are both 4-3.

SPEAKING OF BASEBALL

While on the subject of college baseball, don't forget to stay tuned as SCS.com continues its preseason coverage with the One on One with the Stars series. Just five interviews, less than one-third of the total coming your way, have been posted thus far. We will continue to bring you those throughout February and into the month of March, giving you a glimpse inside the lives, both on and off the field, of the athletes you cheer for and against.

WEEKEND SPOTLIGHT LEAGUE

This week we take a look at two conferences' action for this upcoming weekend, one major and one mid-major. The standings in both the Big East and the Missouri Valley Conferences could look much different after the weekend than they do going in.

Notre Dame and Pittsburgh get things underway in the Big East at 11:00 AM CST on ESPN Saturday morning. The Irish are coming off a huge home victory over previously-unbeaten Boston College Tuesday night but are still on the NCAA bubble. After a blip on the radar in early January, the Panthers have gotten things back under control and are just a couple games out of first place in the conference.

Also at 11:00 AM CST, Syracuse pays a visit to Villanova. The Orange's last outing was a Monday night home loss to Connecticut. Even with that blemish, SU is still just one game out of first place. The Wildcats, meanwhile, got their name on the national scene with a January victory over Kansas. Like Notre Dame, the 'Cats are also on the NCAA bubble at 14-5 overall and 5-4 in the league.

Georgetown is one of those teams that is very quietly having a successful season. The Hoyas are currently sitting at 15-6 overall and 7-3 in conference play, tied for third place in the league. GU will play host to West Virginia on Saturday, with tip-off set for 3:00 PM CST. The Mountaineers started the season on fire and were ranked in the top 25 but have dropped seven of their last ten and are now on the outside of the NCAA bubble looking in.

Coming off that huge road victory at Syracuse, UConn will step outside of the conference and take on the ACC's North Carolina on Sunday afternoon in Hartford, CT. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00 PM CST on CBS. The Huskies are very much in the conference race, but a win like this over one of America's top five teams would do wonders to help their NCAA seeding come March.

The other two Big East matchups of the weekend have little bearing on the conference or NCAA races. St. John's visits Seton Hall at 6:30 PM CST on Saturday. Then on Sunday afternoon, tip-off is set for 3:00 PM CST between Rutgers and Providence. All four teams are at or below .500 and fill the bottom four slots of the league standings.

Now looking towards the weekend action in the Missouri Valley Conference, there are three crucial matchups on the hardwood Saturday. The first battle has Northern Iowa visiting Illinois State in a 4:05 PM CST tip-off. Heading into Thursday's games, ISU is 8-4 in conference play and two games behind league-leading Wichita State. The Panthers are three games out of the top spot.

Game two of the day has Creighton visiting Southern Illinois. Tip-off for that showdown has been set for 5:00 PM CST, and ESPN2 will televise the action. The Bluejays, who have been one of the MVC's best in recent years, are just 6-6 in league play heading into Thursday but still have one of the league's most talented squads. SIU, led by All-America candidate Darren Brooks, is just one game behind WSU.

The final MVC game of the day has Wichita State and Bradley hitting the hardwood. As mentioned, the Shockers are leading the Missouri Valley with a 10-2 conference record. WSU is 17-3 overall as of Wednesday, their three losses coming by a combined 13 points. One of those losses, though, came last week on the road at Creighton. Bradley is just 11-9 overall but won their first eight home games of the season.

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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