A tournament that started with 64 teams is narrowing down to eight as the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament shifts to Omaha, Neb., and officially transforms into the highly anticipated College World Series.
North Carolina and South Carolina are scheduled to play at noon ET on Tuesday to decide the winner of the Chapel Hill Super Regional and the final entrant into the College World Series.
There have been plenty of exciting games and surprises along the way, but the best collegiate baseball teams in the nation have made it through the gauntlet and will have an opportunity to be crowned champions. With a double-elimination format followed by a best-of-three final series, the best team will ultimately walk away with the title.
Some teams that most fans expected to go the distance won't be in Omaha, but there is no doubt that the programs that have made it are more than deserving. They're all on equal footing now, and they all have a legitimate chance to win it all.
Here is everything you need to know about the College World Series, including when and where to watch all of the action.
Where: TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
When: Saturday, June 15 through Wednesday, June 26
Watch: ESPN and ESPN2
Live Stream: ESPN3
Schedule (via NCAA.com)
|Saturday, June 15||Oregon State vs. Mississippi State||Opening Round||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Saturday, June 15||Indiana vs. Louisville||Opening Round||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 16||North Carolina vs. NC State||Opening Round||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sunday, June 16||LSU vs. UCLA||Opening Round||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Monday, June 17||Saturday's Losers||Elimination Game||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Monday, June 17||Saturday's Winners||For Semifinal Berth||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, June 18||Sunday's Losers||Elimination Game||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 18||Sunday's Winners||For Semifinal Berth||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 19||Monday's Losers Bracket Winner vs. Monday's Winners Bracket Loser||Elimination Game||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 20||Tuesday's Losers Bracket Winner vs. Tuesday's Winners Bracket Loser||Elimination Game||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday, June 21||Monday's Winners Bracket Winner vs. Wednesday's Winner||Semifinal Elimination Game 1||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday, June 21||Tuesday's Winners Bracket Winner vs. Thursday's Winner||Semifinal Elimination Game 1||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 22*||Monday's Winners Bracket Winner vs. Wednesday's Winner||Semifinal Elimination Game 2||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Saturday, June 22*||Tuesday's Winners Bracket Winner vs. Thursday's Winner||Semifinal Elimination Game 2||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Monday, June 24||Bracket 1 Winner vs. Bracket 2 Winner||CWS Game 1||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 25||Bracket 1 Winner vs. Bracket 2 Winner||CWS Game 2||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 26*||Bracket 1 Winner vs. Bracket 2 Winner||CWS Game 3||8 p.m.||ESPN|
Teams to Watch
Perhaps the biggest upset of the Super Regional round came courtesy of the Louisville Cardinals, as they swept the No. 2 overall seed Vanderbilt Commodores and forced them to stay home in Nashville. Louisville has packed its bags and is headed to Omaha.
The Cardinals may not be considered the favorite, but they have the pieces necessary to make some noise.
The combination of starting pitchers Jeff Thompson and Chad Green has had a lot to do with Louisville's success to this point. They have combined for 21 wins on the season and keep the Cardinals in every game they pitch. Louisville's pair of aces could take the Cardinals all the way, but the school's athletics program has had a very successful year regardless of the result, according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports.
Louisville is scheduled to face Indiana in its first matchup of the College World Series, and the Cardinals will certainly be favored. They can put themselves in a very advantageous position if they win that game, as they would be just two wins away from a berth in the finals.
As the No. 3 national seed, the Oregon State Beavers entered the Super Regionals with high hopes. A strong Kansas State team gave them all they could handle, but the Beavers were ultimately able to advance to the College World Series.
Despite the fact that Oregon State always fields a talented team, this year marks the school's first CWS appearance since winning it all in 2007, according to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America.
Oregon State boasts a lineup stacked with .300 hitters, but pitching is the name of the game when it comes to the Beavers. Starters Andrew Moore, Ben Wetzler and Matt Boyd all have an ERA of 2.13 or better this season. That is huge in this type of format, as all three men can be trusted and none will be forced to work on short rest.
Even if one of them is knocked out of a game for whatever reason, the Beavers have one of the best bullpens in the nation as well. Max Engelbrekt, Tony Bryant and Scott Schultz form a nearly unhittable triumvirate that no lineup wants to face. As long as Oregon State builds up a lead, it will be very difficult for opposing teams to make a comeback.
With six College World Series titles, the LSU Tigers are currently tied with the Texas Longhorns for second on the all-time list behind USC's 12. It is going to take a very long time for LSU to catch up with the Trojans, but a title is very possible this year, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see the Tigers move into the second place all alone once the 2013 CWS comes to an end.
If LSU is going to win it all, though, ace pitcher Aaron Nola must be on top of his game. That certainly hasn't been an issue all season long, as Nola boasts a 12-0 record in 16 starts with a minuscule 1.68 ERA. He has also struck out nearly a batter per inning, and opposing hitters own a .187 batting average against him.
Nola will be well rested heading into the College World Series, as he will have eight days between starts, according to Les East of The Advocate.
At the same time, LSU has enough sluggers to win high-scoring games as well. First baseman Mason Katz will play a big role, as he has hit .366 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI on the year. Provided he and Nola play like superstars as they have all season long, it can be argued that LSU is the odds-on favorite.
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