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NCAA Baseball Tournament 2013: Nashville Regional Preview -- The Teams Vanderbilt Will Host

The Commodores face another SEC East team's archrival, a team from Yankeeland and a pitcher whose arm might literally fall off in the middle of the game


Looking at the NCAA baseball tournament regionals that involve SEC teams

Winner faces winner of the Louisville Regional

(1) Vanderbilt
RPI: 2
Record: 51-9, 26-3 SEC

But for a couple of losses in the SEC tournament, the Commodores might be sitting at the No. 1 national seed this year instead of the No. 2. Not that there's enough difference to care about it. SEC fans should by now know the names that make this team's lineup potent: Tony Kemp, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski to name but three. And they know about Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede, a combined 24-2 on the season with a combined 2.07 ERA. Vanderbilt does practically everything right, which is one of the reasons why they're a favorite not just to win this regional, but the whole NCAA tournament.

(2) Georgia Tech
RPI: 23
Record: 34-25, 15-15 ACC

The Yellow Jackets are a solid program in their own right, though perhaps not in the same league as the Commodores this year. (Give conference realignment awhile and the two might literally be in the same league, if not figuratively.) There are plenty of gaudy numbers on a team that has 56 home runs on the season, but some of the most imposing stats belong to Daniel Palka, with 17 home runs and a 1.067 OPS, and Zane Evans, who has 14 long balls and a 1.050 OPS. Those numbers are backed up by Buck Farmer, who struck out 112 batters in 103.1 innings. But the rest of the pitching staff is of varying quality, and Georgia beat Tech 17-0 in one of three games between the two teams this year, so there's hope for anyone.

(3) Illinois
RPI: 39
Record: 34-18, 14-10 B1G

Oooooooooooooooh, Yankee baseball. But just because they play in the Up North Conference doesn't mean the Illini can't play ball. Justin Parr slugs .583 and has a .455 on-base percentage. The Illini also run a lot, possibly just to keep warm, but are very successful when they do so, grabbing 106 bases on 131 attempts. There are some weak spots in the pitching staff, but the combined 3.62 ERA is pretty respectable. And besides, the B1G has to break through eventually -- right?

(4) East Tennessee State
RPI: 86
Record: 36-22, 17-10 Atlantic Sun

Your Atlantic Sun champions! Now, please excuse them while they go off to join the Southern Conference. The best all-around player for the Bucs is Clinton Freeman, who leads almost across the slash line, his .336/.402/.578 stats just coming up a little bit short in the on-base percentage department. Freeman also has a team-leading 10 home. Three players have stolen at least 20 bases for ETSU: Andrew Greene (24-of-27), Dylan Tritsch (20-of-25) and Jeremy Taylor (20-of-26). The pitching is basically done by Kerry Doane, who threw an eye-popping 140 innings this season, no doubt helped along by his 12 complete games -- all of this while maintaining a paltry 1.99 ERA. That makes ETSU the kind of four seed who can steal a win against someone and make their lives very difficult for the rest of the regional before the Bucs are themselves knocked out. And that could be Vanderbilt.