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2011 NCAA Baseball Regional Previews: Seven SEC Teams in Action

Regionals begin today in the NCAA baseball tournament, with seven SEC teams either hosting or traveling -- thousands of miles, in some cases -- to the first round of one of the unique college playoffs. Each four-team bracket features a double-elimination format leading to the Super Regional round.

So, for the uninitiated or those who just want a look at who everyone is playing, a short preview of each of the first-day games for the SEC in the NCAA tournament. Open thread posts at 12 p.m. ET, though we can't guarantee to be around much until later in the day and over the weekend.

3 ALABAMA RPI: 35 Tallahassee RPI: 18 2 UCF
3.76 Team ERA 4.19
Nathan Kilcrease
(7-4, 3.16 ERA)
Fri Starter TBA
.733 Team OPS .841
Taylor Dugas
(.345/.458/.547, 6 HRs, 28 RBIs)
Offensive Star Jonathan Griffin
(.332/.382/.634, 18 HRs, 53 RBIs)

Hate to be the one to say this, but Alabama hasn't had a great deal of success against UCF this year. Or in recent years generally. The Golden Knights have a lead in the series, beat the Crimson Tide this year and have a winning streak that dates back to 2001. But the Tide put their best pitcher on the mound and UCF has been a bit uneven in pitching this year, so Alabama has some hope if it can get the offense going. (12 p.m. ET, Sun Sports)

RPI: 30 Atlanta RPI: 20 2 SOUTHERN MISS
4.37 Team ERA 3.45
Luis Pollorena
(6-5, 4.44 ERA)
Fri Starter Todd McInnis
(8-2, 2.61 ERA)
.705 Team OPS .832
Jarrod Parks
(.383/.530/.532, 3 HRs, 36 RBIs)
Offensive Star B.A. Vollmuth
(.303/.412/.559, 12 HRs, 48 RBIs)

It's hard to get too upbeat about the Western Division Bulldogs' chances in the tournament if someone besides Parks doesn't learn to hit. Parks is the only player on the team with 100 total bases on the season. They have the right pitcher on the mound, though, in the form of Pollorena, who was great the last time he faced the Eagles. (3 p.m. ET, CSS)

RPI: 3 Gainesville RPI: 108 4 MANHATTAN
2.99 Team ERA 4.03
Karsten Whitson
(7-0, 2.53 ERA)
Fri Starter John Soldinger
(10-2, 3.24 ERA)
.828 Team OPS .803
Mike Zunino
(.367/.439/.656, 15 HRs, 59 RBIs)
Offensive Star Chad Salem
(.340/.433/.592, 9 HRs, 50 RBIs)

The SEC tournament champions open their regional against a school named after Manhattan that's located in the Bronx and that most SEC fans have never heard of. Still, perhaps more so than any other NCAA tournament, the baseball dance is an inherently unpredictable thing, because baseball is an inherently unpredictable game. And it's not like Manhattan wasn't a decent team this year, even if their conference might not prepare them for the SEC. (4 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

RPI: 16 Corvallis RPI: 29 2 CREIGHTON
4.99 Team ERA 3.38
Michael Palazzone
(10-4, 3.20 ERA)
Fri Starter Jonas Dufek
(11-1, 2.17 ERA)
.724 Team OPS .763
Levi Hyams
(.318/.400/.446, 4 HRs, 37 RBIs)
Offensive Star Trever Adams
(.392/.465/.680, 14 HRs, 57 RBIs)

At this point, both these teams might just be happy to be here. Georgia didn't clinch a spot in the tournament until it won its third game in the SEC tournament. And like Creighton, the Dawgs needed a big turnaround in 2011 to even get that far. (4 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

RPI: 14 Tempe RPI: 76 3 CHARLOTTE
3.18 Team ERA 2.43
Randall Fant
(3-4, 3.74 ERA)
Fri Starter Andre Smith
(9-4, 1.85 ERA)
.743 Team OPS .801
Dominic Ficociello
(.351/.378/.490, 24 SBs, 35 bbs)
Offensive Star Justion Wilson
(.338/.423/.447, 30 HRs, 83 RBIs)

The SEC West Champions head West -- far, far West. The Hogs head to Tempe to take on Charlotte, a team that might be more trouble than their RPI and seeding would suggest. If Charlotte can pitch against the SEC as well as it does against the Atlantic 10, the Razorbacks could be in trouble. (5 p.m. ET)

2.66 Team ERA 4.52
Michael Roth
(11-3, 1.17 ERA)
Fri Starter Andy Moye
(7-1, 2.54 ERA)
.818 Team OPS .828
Christian Walker
(.357/.435/.561, 9 HRs, 57 RBIs)
Offensive Star Victor Roache
(.327/.440/.789, 30 HRs, 83 RBIs)

Some South Carolina fans are grumbling -- and rightfully so -- about the Gamecocks getting a national seed and then ending up with probably the toughest regional in the country. At least they still get to face the fourth-best team in the field in Game 1, which should be a positive unless they do something stupid like pitching to Roache. As long as South Carolina keeps pitching as well as it has so far, it's going to be hard to knock the Gamecocks out early in the tournament. (7 p.m. ET)

RPI: 4 Nashville RPI: 72 4 BELMONT
2.49 Team ERA 4.68
Sonny Gray
(10-3, 2.12 ERA)
Fri Starter Matt Hamann
(9-1, 2.22 ERA)
.854 Team OPS .843
Aaron Westlake
(.356/.473/.620, 13 HRs, 44 RBIs)
Offensive Star Nate Woods
(.347/.434/.601, 12 HRs, 61 RBIs)

The Belmont Bruins bring plenty of offensive firepower to Nashville for the regional; unfortunately for them, they also provide the other guys some firepower as well. Then again, Hamann is a great pitcher for Belmont to send to the mound in the first game. Not that Sonny Gray isn't the kind of pitcher you also want handling the first game. (8 p.m. ET)