The 2013 NCAA Division I baseball tournament has simply been a joy to watch. We've had thrilling nail-biters, powerful offensive surges and exceptional pitching displays.
Some teams have defied the odds (or the national rankings) to advance to the College World Series. Others have backed up their regular-season dominance in the tournament, showing they have the chops to perform at a high level when the stakes are high.
This year, anybody could win the national title, which makes assessing their chances even more difficult.
Here are my championship odds for the final eight teams in the 2013 College World Series (national rankings in parentheses).
8. NC State (7)
NC State ranks 27th in the nation in ERA and 34th in runs.
While that exemplifies a rather balanced squad, I don't know if the Wolfpack are strong enough on either side to go further than the first round of the College World Series.
NC State squeaked by No. 32 Rice to advance to the CWS, winning both games in the Super Regionals by one run.
7. Mississippi State (10)
Mississippi State ranks 13th in ERA and 31st in runs this season.
The Bulldogs hadn't faced anyone particularly strong until they played No. 3 Virginia in the Super Regionals. Against Virginia, Mississippi State raised its level of play, winning the first two games of the series to advance. The Bulldogs were able to do that by scoring a combined 17 runs in those two games.
That being said, Virginia disappointed me in the tournament. The Cavaliers had close-knit affairs against Army and Elon before falling to Mississippi State.
6. Louisville (16)
Considering Louisville is ranked the lowest out of all remaining teams, you may hear Cardinals fans touting how it is the Cinderella team of the tournament. While that may be partially true, the fact of the matter is, Louisville is ranked 16th in the country.
Louisville also ranks fifth in ERA and 30th in runs. Make no mistake about it, this team is for real.
That being said, the field in the CWS is absolutely loaded. The Cardinals rank sixth in the odds based more on the rest of the field than on the caliber of the team.
5. UCLA (15)
UCLA's pitching cannot be ignored. The Bruins rank ninth in ERA this season, allowing a combined 10 runs in five games in the tournament.
The one thing that may trip up UCLA against some of the top competition is its offense. The Bruins rank 132nd in runs this season.
Pitching has been known to win championships, but you also need a little bit of offense, too.
4. Oregon State (5)
Oregon State's pitching is simply fantastic. The Beavers rank second in ERA this season.
They also showed they could put some runs on the board in their 12-4 win in Game 2 against No. 18 Kansas State in the Super Regionals.
Oregon State needs to be able to scratch out some runs like it did in Game 2 against Kansas State to win the CWS. The Beavers have shown they can do that, but facing elite competition may be too much to handle. They rank 59th in runs this season.
3. North Carolina (1)
North Carolina came into the tournament as the No. 1 team in the country. The Tar Heels rank first in the nation in runs and 16th in ERA. When this team is rolling, it is hard to stop.
That being said, I don't like how North Carolina has performed overall in the tournament. The Tar Heels lost a game against Florida Atlantic in the Chapel Hill Regional Final and needed three games to scrape by South Carolina (both of their wins in the best-of-three series were by one run).
UNC is obviously capable of winning the CWS, but, as of now, it hasn't been as dominant as I expected it would be.
2. LSU (4)
LSU ranks third in ERA and ninth in runs this season.
That, folks, is the definition of dominance.
The Tigers have also won all five of their games in the tournament, including an 11-1 victory over Oklahoma in their last game.
If it wasn't for one team, I would peg LSU as the favorite for the national title.
Of course, there's that one team...
1. Indiana (12)
This pick may come as a surprise to some of you—based on Indiana's ranking overall—but the Hoosiers have simply brought it in the tournament.
Indiana ranks eighth in ERA and 15th in runs this season. The club has won all five of its matchups in the tournament. That includes a two-game sweep of No. 8 Florida State in the Super Regionals, in which the Hoosiers scored a combined 21 runs.
The Hoosiers are on a roll. If they keep this up, I wouldn't be surprised if they win the national title in their first-ever appearance in the CWS.
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