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February 16, 2007

SCS.comThis is officially the third weekend of the young season, and we as college baseball fans are in for a treat. There are five top notch series that I will discuss on tap for the next few days. We have interstate rivalries, cross-country showdowns, traditional powers colliding, a mid-major clash, and a Pac-10 vs. Big West battle for respect.

This should be a fantastic weekend for these games. Gainesville, Houston, Tuscon, Austin, and Malibu are all nice this time of year. Barring a severe climate change, we should see large crowds packing into the ballparks from Friday to Sunday. The weekend is short on top 25 matchups, but there are solid series to get out and watch.

The Pepperdine vs. Wichita State series is the best series of the weekend. A lot of novice fans may not realize how good both of these teams actually are. As the season progresses, we will see the slate improve, but for now, we are just getting started.

#10 Miami @ Florida

The Canes travel to Gainesville with a 3-2 record. After starting 0-2, Miami went 3-0 last week. They came out of nowhere last on a near improbable run to Omaha. This year they are led by All-American second basemen Jemile Weeks. Florida was the national runner up in 2005, but fell off the map last year. This will be a high energy series, but look for Miami to be to much for the Gators. Florida is very talented, but last year’s meltdown is still in the back of everyone’s mind in the Gator nation.

The Gators are picked to finish last in the SEC East in many circles. Coach Morris' Miami club has too many weapons for the Gators to overcome. Coach McMahon has a tough job ahead of him. He has a very talented team, but a team short on confidence. A series win over instate rival Miami would be a great start for 2007. This Gator team must have success early, or 2006 may replay itself all over again.

Prediction: Miami sweeps the series.

#5 Cal State-Fullerton @ Arizona

Preseason Player of the Year Wes Roemer and the Titans travel to Tuscon to play Arizona this weekend. After a 2004 run to the College World Series that went through Fullerton, the Wildcats have been a non-factor since. Coach Andy Lopez’s club went 27-28 in 2006, but did finish .500 in the PAC 10. The Wildcats will be solid this year, but Fullerton will compete for the National Championship. This will be a very entertaining series, but in the end, the Titans will be the victor. All Conference player third basemen Evan MacArthur is off to a good year at the plate for the Titans.

I think the Wildcats will avoid the sweep, but will lose the series. Arizona has always started slow, so this series is not make or break for the Wildcats. In 2004 they sneaked into the regionals as a 3rd seed before finishing at Rosenblatt.

Prediction: Cal State-Fullerton wins 2-1

Long Beach State @ #1 Rice

The Dirt Bags are looking to improve in 2007, and they have a golden opportunity to catch the nation's attention this weekend at Rice. Shane Peterson and Robert Perry are great players and they must perform for Long Beach this weekend. Once again Rice is loaded and will be very tough. Coach Wayne Graham’s team has been very tough at home. Rice is off to a slow start at 2-3, but I would not take the Owls lightly. Utility All American Joe Savery can do it on the mound or at the plate and needs to play better than he has thus far.

This weekend should be good weather in Houston, so Reckling Park will have some big crowds to welcome Long Beach. This will be a good series, but Rice will not lose two series in a row.

Prediction: Rice sweeps series.

Stanford @ #9 Texas

This is a classic matchup of traditional powers. Stanford has slipped some, and Texas is out of the top 10 in the national polls, which is not the norm, but it will be a good series none the less. Coach Augie’s team is off to a slow start for the second time in a row. Stanford returns to Austin, after the Cardinal were there in last year's NCAA Tournament. Texas will remember what happened and be ready for the underdogs.

Texas is 3-4 so far and must play well this weekend. The Cardinal will continue their good luck in the Hill Country and leave Austin with a series win.

Prediction: Stanford wins series 2-1.

#13 Wichita State @ Pepperdine

This could be the best series highlighted. It is the only top 25 matchup. Wichita State and Pepperdine both have tremendous tradition and are very good this year. Pepperdine is favored to win the West Coast, and Wichita State is picked to win the Missouri Valley. The winner of this series will have a marquee series win when the tournament rolls around. A series like this is a very good test prior to the conference slate and tells you where your team stands. Losing a series like this is much better than going 18-0 in the before league play.

Adrian Ortiz, Luke Salas, and Barry Enright lead this very talented Waves squad. On the other side, Wichita State has a solid pitiching staff and some power hitters. Since the games are in Malibu, I give the edge to Pepperdine, who has great hitters and multiple all conference pitchers.

Prediction: Pepperdine wins 2-1

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