What to Watch

Updated: April 20, 2006, 4:34 PM ET
ESPN.com

Every Wednesday, ESPN.com previews the big matchups and story lines in college sports. All stats are through April 18.


No. 4 Nebraska at No. 5 Texas, Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET; Saturday, 3 p.m. ET; Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
Nebraska comes into the weekend series on a 11-game winning streak, fresh off victories against Iowa and Texas A&M. Texas' 12-4 start in conference play is its best since 2000. Both teams boast powerful, young pitchers; this series may come down to a battle of the bats. Nebraska's Joba Chamberlain and Texas' Kyle McCulloch are the pitchers to watch.

ESPNU TV schedule

Check when your favorite teams are playing on ESPNU:
Baseball, softball
Lacrosse
Championships
No. 13 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Florida State, Friday, 7 p.m. ET;
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET; Sunday 1 p.m. ET
Georgia Tech's Wes Hodges is the one to watch in this series; the junior third-baseman drove in 13 runs on three doubles and two homers in the Yellow Jackets' two victories against No. 5 Clemson. Hodges won't be the only offensive powerhouse on display. Florida State's Shane Robinson currently owns a 26-game hit streak.

No. 11 Alabama vs. No. 16 Vanderbilt, Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET;
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET; Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
Alabama currently leads the SEC Western Division for the second straight year and the third time in the past five years. After completing a two-week road swing, the Tide should be at the top of their game when Vandy comes to visit. Vanderbilt freshman Pedro Alvarez was named the SEC Hitter of the Week after notching six homers in four games last week. Will Alvarez continue to dominate offensively, or will the Tide's pitchers shut him down?


Conference tournaments
The Colonial Athletic Association, Southern, SWAC and Southland conferences wrapped up their tournaments last week. This week, the West Coast, Atlantic Sun, Sun Belt and Big South teams take to the greens. Among the schools to watch is Coastal Carolina, who surprised many last year by advancing through the regionals to the NCAA championship. The Chanticleers won't surprise people twice. They are the only team in the conference to be consistently ranked in the Top 25, and should have no problem disposing of their Big South rivals early in the competition.
The most exciting battle for a conference tournament final should come out of the West Coast, according to Golf Digest's Ryan Harrington. Although Pepperdine has had a stranglehold on the conference title, winning the past seven consecutive championships, San Diego enters the tournament with a lower team scoring average.
For a preview of the men's conference tournaments, check out Golf Digest's Campus Insider blog.


Conference tournaments
We're also in the middle of the women's golf conference tournaments. Duke clinched the ACC title last week, and the SEC, CAA, SWAC, Missouri Valley and Conference USA also crowned champions. This week, teams from the Big Sky, Big 12, Ohio Valley and Sun Belt tee off. Among the returning champions who are hoping to repeat are Jacksonville State, Denver and Oklahoma State. Denver, led by Emily Hoeper, appears to have the best chance.
Golf Digest's Ryan Harrington expects a close match in the Big 12, where OSU has fought through nail-biters in the past to claim the title. The Cowgirls have won five of the past six tournaments, but Oklahoma also boasts a formidable squad and could give them a run for the trophy.
For a preview of the women's conference tournaments, check out Golf Digest's Campus Insider blog.


No. 12 Johns Hopkins at No. 4 Navy, Saturday, noon ET
After receiving a thorough thrashing at the hands of No. 3 Maryland, 11-4, Johns Hopkins will look to rebound against the fourth-ranked Midshipmen on Saturday. Hopkins' Stephen Peyser, who missed most of the season with a broken jaw, celebrated his debut by chipping in a goal against the Terps. Navy will be playing without senior midfielder Steve Looney, who broke his right collarbone against Army last weekend. Looney's absence will be hard for Navy to overcome as the Midshipmen try to break a 31-game losing streak to Hopkins. For more information, check out Inside Lacrosse's preview.

No. 8 Massachusetts at No. 7 Georgetown, Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU
UMass and Georgetown have won or shared every ECAC title since 2000, and that trend does not appear to be changing. UMass comes into the game as the only team to defeat No. 2 Hofstra; Loyola (Md.) upset Georgetown last weekend, ending the Hoyas' eight-game winning streak. This game should come down to battle between UMass' Preseason All-America attacker Sean Morris, the nation's leading scorer, and Georgetown senior defender Reyn Garnett -- both of whom are Tewaaraton Trophy candidates. The Tewaaraton Trophy is presented annually to the nation's top lacrosse player.


No. 6 North Carolina at No. 1 Northwestern, Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Northwestern's 31-game winning streak, dating back to May 2004, may have fallen at the hands of Duke earlier this season, but the reigning champs are barely vulnerable. The Wildcats responded to the loss by dominating No. 11 Penn State, 19-9. North Carolina is going to have to bring its "A" game to get by freshman goaltender Morgan Lathrop, who is 10-1 on the season. With co-ACC Player of the Week goalie Kristen Hordy in net, the Tar Heels will attempt to add to Northwestern's loss tally.

No. 4 Virginia at No. 3 Georgetown, Wednesday 4 p.m. ET
Led by Nikki Lieb, Tyler Leachman and Blair Weymouth, Virginia's trio of Tewaaraton Trophy candidates, the Cavaliers will attempt to distance themselves from the third-ranked Hoyas early in the contest. In its last contest, Virginia opened up an 8-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of play. Georgetown currently owns a 32-game Big East conference win streak and is undefeated at home this season. The experienced Hoyas have already played eight ranked opponents, and Virginia marks their fifth straight game against a nationally ranked team.


No. 2 Texas at No. 17 Texas Tech, Thursday, 5 p.m. ET
The rivalry between these instate schools is only heightened by the national rankings in front of their names. Texas, which spent a week as the top team in the nation, is led by ace Cat Osterman, who completed her 20th career no-hitter last weekend and picked up the Big 12's Pitcher of the Week honor for the seventh time this season.

No. 3 Arizona at No. 6 Cal, Saturday, 4 p.m., Sunday, 4 p.m. ET
The Golden Bears have quite a challenge ahead of them this weekend as they face Arizona ace Taryne Mowatt, the Pac-10 Player of the Week. She became the first person since 2002 to earn both pitching and hitting honors in the same season. Cal dropped two close games to No. 5 Stanford and is looking to rebound against a surging Wildcats squad. Texas Tech is coming off of two tough losses to Oklahoma State.