The College World Series returns to Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend at TD Ameritrade Park, where eight teams will fight for the NCAA Championship.
Five of the 16 national seeded teams remain, led by No. 2 seed Vanderbilt.
No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Louisville and No. 8 Texas Tech are the remaining nationally seeded teams, while Michigan, Florida State and Auburn are all unranked. Michigan did, however, eliminate No. 1 overall seed UCLA in the Super Regionals.
Sixty MLB draft picks will be featured in the tournament, including three first-round picks. Vanderbilt has the most with 13, while Florida State has the fewest with four.
The eight teams will be split into two brackets and play in a double elimination tournament, with the winner of each bracket playing against each other in a best-of-three final for the College World Series title.
Adam Krueger @AdamKruegerTV
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College World Series Prediction
There is plenty of intriguing storylines to follow as the College World Series begins.
Vanderbilt is the clear-cut favorite of this group. The Commodores went 54-11 this season, winning the SEC regular season and tournament with 13 MLB draft picks on their team.
They are led by the fourth overall pick, power-hitting JJ Bleday (Marlins) who leads the NCAA in home runs with 26. The have nine pitchers who logged at least 30 innings, with four of those pitchers posting ERAs under 3.00.
Arkansas is out for revenge. They were a pop-up away from winning the College World Series last year, and while many on that team graduated, they have not missed a beat. The Razorbacks finished in a first-place tie in the SEC West and are led by hard-throwing right-hander Isaiah Campbell (Mariners) on the mound.
Mississippi State shared the SEC West with Arkansas and is filled with the second-most MLB draft picks with 11 on its roster. First-round pick LHP Ethan Small (Brewers) has been among the best pitchers in the NCAA this year, posting a 1.76 ERA and striking out 168 batters in 102 innings.
If you’re looking for underdogs, Michigan and Florida State certainly fit the bill. The Wolverines are in their first College World Series since 1984 and are the first Big 10 team since Indiana in 2013.
They are not just happy to be here, though. They knocked off No. 1 seed UCLA in the Super Regionals and are looking to do more damage:
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For the first time since 1984, Michigan is headed to Omaha! #RoadToOmaha | @umichbaseball https://t.co/LE83oIvW5p
Florida State may have the best story of all the teams in the field. Legendary manager Mike Martin, the NCAA’s all-time wins leader, is retiring after this season, but despite 40 consecutive 40-win seasons, he has never won the College World Series-finishing second three times (1970, 1986, 1999).
His team was sixth in the ACC but has caught fire, defeating No. 4 Georgia and No. 13 LSU in the Super Regionals in walk-off fashion to advance to the College World Series:
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WALKS. IT. OFF. #RoadToOmaha | @FSUBaseball https://t.co/WnGGSSOiHA
Could Martin’s team complete the Cinderella run?
Prediction: As fun as it would be to see Florida State make a run for Martin, Vanderbilt and Arkansas are just too good and will be the winners of their respective brackets. Arkansas will complete its redemption story and beat Vanderbilt in three games to claim the College World Series title.