First Choice: Louisville Cardinals
Despite bowing out of the ACC Tournament in disappointing fashion to Clemson, Louisville owned the league’s regular season, finishing the campaign with a 21-9 mark in ACC play. The Cardinals have a true ace in the conference’s pitcher of the year, Reid Detmers (11-3), and a unique balance across their line-up that seems to be finding their footing at the right time.
Backup Pick: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Like Louisville, Texas Tech snagged their regular season league title, winning 13 of their last 15 games prior to the start of the Big 12 Tournament. Sometimes, it seems that the small break from losing earlier in the league post-season can help teams in their quest for a title in Omaha. To get there, they’ll need infielders Cameron Warren and Josh Jung to carry the load offensively.
First Choice: Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas is a very good baseball team and they are out for blood after their loss to the Beavers in the championship last season. There’s no greater motivator than a crushing defeat and their experience will help them.
Backup Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Jake Mangum is an offensive monster for MSU and has had a brilliant college career. But the biggest reason I like the Bulldogs is their pitching duo of Ethan Small and JT Ginn. The Friday/Saturday starters are are a combined 16-4 this season with a 2.58 ERA.
First choice: Arkansas Razorbacks
I know we don’t like to talk about it, but Arkansas was literally one dropped foul ball from a national championship last season. They have a lot of the same faces back with the added benefit of experience. Isaiah Campbell is a great pitcher whose name you’re going to hear a lot. I’d be very surprised if the Omahogs weren’t one of the last teams standing in a few weeks.
Second choice: Vanderbilt Commodores
The Vandy boys are two things right now: very talented and getting hot at the right time. The SEC tournament champs have the nation’s leader in home runs in J.J. Bleday and one of the most consistent hitters in baseball in Austin Martin. They’re deep. They’re quick. They’re a real complete team.
First choice: Arkansas Razorbacks
I’m going to roll with Joe on this one. I liked last year’s Beavs to win it all because I thought we had the most consistent and experienced lineup in the country—the Hogs own that title in my eyes right now. They also have a very favorable path to Omaha. Their regional sets up for TCU’s ace Nick Lodolo to take down the 2 seed Cal on Friday, but after that things drop off for the Frogs (who were the last team selected for the tournament) and I expect Arkansas to take care of business on Saturday. At that point someone has to beat the Hogs twice at home which isn’t happening. From there, the talent and experience this team has can easily carry them to a title.
Second choice: Oregon State Beavers
Do I think the Beavs are the best team in the country right now? Frankly, no. But why not us? Our pitching depth is almost unheard of in college baseball. I can think of nine pitchers I’d be confident giving the ball to in the postseason: Eisert, Fehmel, Gambrell, Mully, Pearce, Chamberlain, Mundt, Burns, and Pfennigs. That depth is critical on the road to a title. We also have the best player in the country in Adley Rutschmann. Those two factors alone make us a contender. We’ll need some guys to get hot at the right time, but most teams in the field need that to happen in order to win it all. I’m just saying, you never know. It could be ‘07 all over again.
First choice: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Many will remember the Bulldogs for their incredulous tear through Omaha last year before the soon-to-be-champion Beavers stopped their Cinderella run. Many of those players that were in Omaha returned to the team this season and gave the Bulldogs a team with a ton of Omaha experience. Not to mention that the Bulldogs are led by Jake Mangum, who is one of the best players in the country with a strong supporting cast of hitters and pitchers behind him. Mississippi State will be among the favorites to win the whole tournament this season.
Second choice: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
There’s no way we can’t mention the number three national seed in this article, right? The Yellow Jackets finished at 41-17 overall and came runner-up in the ACC tournament and will be hosting regionals for the first time since 2011. Led by second-team All-American catcher Kyle McCann, Georgia Tech is a very strong offensive team that batted a great .297 on the season. Though their pitching staff leads something to be desired, the Yellow Jackets can swing amongst the best of any team in regionals and pose a serious threat for a run to Omaha.
Using a makeshift scoring system in which “First Choice” selections get two points and “Backup Picks” get one point, it looks like the Arkansas Razorbacks are BTD’s overall favorite to win the College World Series, as they received three first choice votes. The full totals can be seen below.
1. Arkansas (6 Points)
2. Mississippi State (3 Points)
3. Louisville (2 Points)
T-4. Georgia Tech (1 Point)
T-4. Oregon State (1 Point)
T-4. Texas Tech (1 Point)
T-4. Vanderbilt (1 Point)