The 2013 College Baseball World Series has entered the stage of the Super Regionals. Sixteen teams remain, with just two No. 1 seeds being knocked out during the double-elimination Regionals.
The question is, which teams in the 2013 Super Regionals are under the most pressure to win and advance?
Certain teams have established their reputation as the elite of this tournament but have escaped elimination by the skin of their teeth. Other squads have won as expected, but their quality of play has been lackluster.
One way or another, these teams are under pressure to win and have thus been placed on upset alert.
No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (55-9)
The North Carolina Tar Heels began the season at 16-0 and eventually upped their record to 39-2, establishing their dominance amongst the nation's elite. Oddly enough, the Tar Heels went from dominant through 41 games to inconsistent during the final 19.
That trend has carried over into the College World Series.
North Carolina finished the season by going 13-6 during their final 18 games, which is strong but hardly sensational. Even still, the Tar Heels managed to finish the regular season as the No. 1 team in all of college baseball.
They followed up their shaky ending by defeating Florida Atlantic by a score of 12-11 in 13 innings—they trailed 8-6 entering the bottom of the ninth and 11-8 during the bottom of the 12th.
Up next is a red-hot South Carolina team that has bounced back from a late-season collapse to rediscover its form. With three straight victories, the Gamecocks are primed and ready to pull out the upset.
North Carolina will need all hands on deck to prevent that from happening.
For starters, the Tar Heels must not allow the Gamecocks' power bats to make an impact early in the game. If they can establish the ability to limit the deep ball, North Carolina can pull out this victory.
Even if South Carolina is a strong foe, however, an exit this early would be a devastating failure.
No. 1 Vanderbilt Commodores (54-10)
The Vanderbilt Commodores finished the regular season as the No. 2 team in the nation, going 51-9 overall and 17-3 on the road. With that being said, Vanderbilt was just 3-2 on neutral ground.
Their inconsistencies appeared to be present again during the College World Series, as they lost to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a score of 5-0.
The Commodores bounced back to win 7-1 and thus advanced to the Super Regionals, but the damage was done. Suddenly, Vanderbilt doesn't quite hold the look of an untouchable, but instead appears to be a super power that can be taken down.
With a matchup against Louisville on the horizon, the next three games will be far from a cake walk.
Louisville may not be the most revered team in the field, but they've won 19 of their past 21 games. That includes a sweep of the field during the Regionals, winning by a collective score of 26-10.
Vanderbilt is in legitimate danger of an early exit.
No matter how hot the Cardinals may be, the Commodores remain the team to beat on their side of the bracket. If they are to take a break for a game, as they did against Georgia Tech, reputations will become meaningless.
Vanderbilt needs to advance to make this season anything short of a bust, and Louisville is the perfect team to end their title hopes.