CBB Regional Preview: Lincoln Regional

The Lincoln Regional includes Nebraska, UC-Irvine, Oral Roberts, and Eastern Illinois.

Nebraska begins the NCAA Tournament at home, hosting a four-team regional at Hawks Field. The Huskers (40-14-1) make their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 10 years on Friday afternoon, when they open up against the Eastern Illinois Panthers (27-28), the champions of the Ohio Valley Conference, at 1:05 p.m. No. 2 seed UC Irvine and third-seeded Oral Roberts will also be coming to Hawks Field for the four-team, double-elimination regional this weekend. ORU and UC Irvine will face off on Friday at 7:05 p.m.

Nebraska versus Eastern Illinois
Friday at 1 p.m. CST

Probable Pitching Matchup
Johnny Dorn (RHP, 6-1, 2.38, 96 K’s) vs. Josh Mueller (6-7, 4.26 ERA, 75 K’s)

The Huskers will be making their 12th NCAA trip in school history and have a 30-23 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including College World Series appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2005. This weekend’s regional will mark the sixth time that NU has hosted an NCAA Regional since 2001 (2001-03, 2005-06, 2008) and fifth time since Hawks Field opened in 2002.

The 2008 season marks Nebraska’s fifth NCAA Regional trip under Head Coach Mike Anderson, as the Huskers have advanced to regional play under Anderson in every season, except for 2004. Nebraska finished the regular season in third place in the final conference standings, just 1.5 games behind regular-season champion Texas A&M.

Key Players

C Mitch Abeita (.333, 10 HR, 46 RBI)
RHP Johnny Dorn (6-1, 2.38 ERA, 96 K’s)
INF Jake Opitz (.335, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 13 Steals)

Eastern Illinois comes to Lincoln after capturing the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Charleston, Ill., school brings a 27-28 overall mark to Lincoln after defeating Southeast Missouri in the OVC championship game to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning the league title in 1999. That season, the Panthers knocked off Arizona in the Waco Regional hosted by Baylor, before being eliminated from the tournament.

Head Coach Jim Schmitz led Eastern Illinois to a 13-13 conference mark during regular-season OVC play. The Panthers are hitting .281 with 30 homers as a team while averaging six runs scored per game. Panther pitchers own a 4.33 team ERA, while opponents have scored 5.5 runs per contest and hit .253 against Eastern Illinois.

Key Players
CF Brett Nommensen (.397, 4 HR, 54 Runs Scored, 18 Steals)
RHP Josh Mueller (6-7, 4.26 ERA, 75 Ks)

UC Irvine versus Oral Roberts
Friday at 7 p.m. CST *

Probable Pitching Matchup
Scott Gorgen (RHP, 10-3, 1.90) vs. Carlos Luna (RHP, 10-0, 3.15)

UC Irvine (38-16) earned the No. 2 seed in the Lincoln Regional and looks for a return trip to the College World Series. The Anteaters finished in a tie for third in the Big West Conference regular-season standings after shutting out UC Santa Barbara, 2-0, in the regular season finale to finish 14-10 in the Big West. The Anteaters come to Lincoln as winners of four of their past five games.

On the season, UCI ranks second nationally with a 2.87 ERA, while also hitting .305 as a team The Anteaters are averaging 6.1 runs per game, while holding the opposition to just 3.8 runs per contest.

Last season, UC Irvine produced one of the best seasons in school history with a 47-17-1 overall record and a 15-6 Big West mark. The Anteaters advanced to the College World Series by beating Texas in the regional round before sweeping Wichita State in the Super Regional. At the CWS, UCI opened with a loss to Arizona State, before knocking off both Cal State Fullerton and the Sun Devils. The Anteaters had their season come to an end with a 7-1 loss to 2007 national champion Oregon State.

Key Players

INF Ben Orloff (.355, 18 Steals)
OF Ollie Linton (.326, 36 Steals)
RHP Scott Gorgen (10-3, 1.90 ERA)
RHP Eric Pettis (4-2, 1.76 ERA, 15 Saves)

Third-seeded Oral Roberts owns the best record in the Lincoln Regional field with a 46-12 overall mark. The Golden Eagles captured their 11th straight conference title by winning the Summit League tournament with a 9-0 win over Southern Utah on Saturday at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa. ORU comes to Lincoln riding a 12-game winning streak.

Key Players
OF Brian Van Kirk (.421, 17 HR, 72 RBI)
RHP Carlos Luna (10-0, 3.15 ERA)

Its going to be great weather.
Mid to low 80′s all 4 days with a chance of rain on Sunday Monday