With just eight teams remaining, the College World Series is dangerously close to crowning its champion. With that being said, some teams have separated themselves and made this competition more lopsided than we'd previously presumed.
So who are the teams with the best shot at the title?
Certain squads may not have performed at an elite level during the regular season, but they've come to life at the College World Series. Other teams have been brilliant all year long, thus overcoming any reputation they've earned in recent games.
The question is, who has the most legitimate chance to strike gold?
5. North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels have been absolutely dreadful at the 2013 College World Series. Thus far, they've lost three games to teams such Florida Atlantic, North Carolina State and South Carolina.
With that being said, the No. 1 team in the nation is still alive. Until that changes, their status as a contender will not.
North Carolina survived the South Carolina Gamecocks, bouncing back from an 8-0 loss to win 5-4 and advance. In the previous round, it beat Florida Atlantic in extra innings, displaying its uncanny ability to respond to adversity.
After losing 8-1 to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, UNC will need to display that same mental toughness as a part of the loser's bracket. Don't count them out just yet.
4. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Mississippi State Bulldogs may not be the most respected team in the nation, but they deserve to be up there. Not only are they members of the winner's bracket, but the Bulldogs have been red hot during the College World Series.
They've won six of their past seven, including four in a row with upsets of Virginia and Oregon State.
Mississippi State entered the College World Series as a team with an outside shot at contention, as it ranked No. 10 in the nation. With clashes with No. 3 Virginia and No. 5 Oregon State, that path had quite a few road blocks.
The Bulldogs responded.
Mississippi State defeated the Cavaliers in both of their games, going up 11-6 and 6-5, respectively. Against Oregon State, the Bulldogs tallied a 5-4 victory over an elite Beavers squad.
Don't look now, but Mississippi State is coming for the crown.
3. North Carolina State Wolfpack
The North Carolina State Wolfpack finished the regular season with a ranking of No. 7 overall, but they still have flown under the radar. With that being said, N.C. State is one of the hottest teams in this tournament.
Don't be too shocked to see it rise up and win it all.
The Wolfpack have won 11 of their past 12 games, including an 8-1 drubbing of in-state rival and the No. 1-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. In that game, pitcher Carlos Rodon threw a complete game, allowing just one run and striking out eight batters.
As we said, the Wolfpack are on fire.
Thus far, North Carolina State has allowed two runs or less in four of its six College World Series games. The team has yet to allow an opponent to top four runs, which is a rare occurrence in this year's event.
This is a team to watch.
2. Indiana Hoosiers
Forget about reputations, name value and the ever-biased rankings that dictate our beliefs of one team's greatness. Ignore the overall win-loss records and the reputation of the individual players involved.
Few teams—if any—are playing better baseball than the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers have been nothing short of dominant, winning games in every form and fashion. From high-scoring offensive affairs to pitcher's duels, Indiana has been nothing short of brilliant during their magical run.
Plain and simple, no one can touch them right now.
Thus far, Indiana is 6-0 at the College World Series, with three games in which it's topped 10 runs. The team also won two one-run games, including a 2-0 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in its most recent outing.
All in all, the Hoosiers have established themselves as one of the teams to beat at the 2013 College World Series.
1. LSU Tigers
The LSU Tigers finished the 2013 college baseball season ranked No. 4 in the nation and thus earned the reputation of an elite title contender. Up to this point, they've lived up to that name, winning each of their first five games.
In fact, LSU has won each of those games by at least two runs.
Furthermore, the Tigers have held their past three opponents to one run or less. In those three games, they've outscored their opposition by a count of 18-2.
With a pitching staff that ranks third in ERA and a star—Alex Bregman—that's second in batting average, LSU has the complete package. While some squads are garnering more hype, LSU is quietly dominating.
Until that changes, the Tigers are a safe bet as the team to beat.
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