The Road to Omaha continues this weekend with NCAA regional action.
We take an in-depth look at all 16 NCAA regionals.
Last NCAA appearance
1. Cal State Fullerton
2009 (College World Series)
2008 (College World Series)
3. New Mexico
1962 (District 7)
Won Big Ten
2009 (Baton Rouge Regional)
The favorite: Cal State Fullerton
There was a time earlier this season when the Titans appeared to be one of the nation's more overrated teams. Now some would argue the Titans are a bit underrated entering the NCAA tournament. Fullerton has played excellent the last half of the season and enters the weekend with a .348 batting average and a .376 ERA. Carlos Lopez (.383, 7, 49) and Christian Colon (.347, 14, 58) spearhead the offense, while Noe Ramirez and Daniel Renken are having solid seasons on the mound. It would be a surprise if the Titans let off the breaks this weekend.
The dark-horse contender: Stanford
There aren't many talking about how Stanford can win this regional, but it is a possibility. In addition to Stanford being a solid club that has been in and out of the rankings this season, coach Mark Marquess knows everything you could know about Fullerton and its tendencies. Stanford lacks consistency at the plate and enters regional action with just a .288 batting average. It also has had some consistency issues on the mound. Starting pitcher Jordan Pries, though, is a guy to watch after shutting down Arizona State last weekend. Stanford has the talent to win this weekend.
Best hitter: New Mexico 1B Justin Howard
It has been a memorable season for the Lobos and an especially memorable campaign for the senior first baseman. Howard has compiled amazing offensive numbers this season, hitting .455 with a whopping 32 doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 72 RBIs. He also is slugging .712 and has a .505 on-base percentage. The Lobos need Howard to have a big weekend to win this regional.
Best pitcher: Cal State Fullerton RHP Noe Ramirez
The talented sophomore has continued to build on his fantastic freshman campaign from last season. Ramirez is the table setter for the Titans. He has started 12 games and made 13 appearances and has a 10-1 record and a 2.50 ERA in 90 innings. Ramirez also has struck out 95 and walked 16 and limited opposing teams to a .225 batting average. Ramirez has thrown two complete games this season.
Cal State Fullerton is hot entering the NCAA tournament but must take care of business this weekend without its best hitter – outfielder Gary Brown. Brown broke his finger sliding a couple of weeks ago and will miss the regional, coach Dave Serrano said earlier this week. The Titans also aren't 100 percent sure if two-way player Tyler Pill will play anything but designated hitter this weekend. Pill has been injured for a few weeks but could be cleared to play before action begins this weekend … Stanford needs a big weekend from freshman Kenny Diekroeger. Diekroeger was one of the more highly touted freshmen entering the spring. He has lived up to his billing, too, entering the postseason hitting .351 with 11 doubles, five homers and 39 RBIs. Also keep an eye on pitcher Jordan Pries, who put together a fantastic start against Arizona State last week. Pries has started 14 games and has a 3.86 ERA in 91 innings. Teams are hitting .264 against him … There is no question the Lobos must pitch at a much higher level this weekend to win the Fullerton Regional. But it also will be interesting to see how their offense fares against some solid pitching. The Lobos are hitting .350 and have two hitters with batting averages over .400 and no everyday players with batting averages below .300. Still, it'll be interesting to see how the offense fares against much better competition … Minnesota hopes to play spoiler this weekend. The Golden Gophers entered the season with high hopes and on the cusp of our rankings, but they sputtered for much of the regular season. That, of course, was until the final few weeks of the season. The Gophers have played well as of late and enter the NCAA tournament with a solid crop of starting pitchers, including Seth Rosin, TJ Oakes and Phil Isaksson. Also, keep a close eye on outstanding relievers Scott Matyas and Billy Soule. Matyas has a 2.59 ERA in 24 appearances and Soule and has a 3.20 ERA in 20 appearances … All games of the Fullerton Regional will be televised on ESPNU.