While most of the top seeds were able to advance into the Super Regionals during this year's NCAA baseball tournament, things have been extremely unpredictable since then. That unpredictability carried over to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. as well.
The top three seeds remaining in the tournament all lost their first games in College World Series play, so they now have absolutely no margin for error. If they are able to make it through the Losers Bracket, however, they are all definite threats to take home the title.
Here are three dangerous teams to watch for in the Losers Bracket as the wild college baseball action continues in Omaha.
As the No. 1 overall seed in the tourney, hopes are obviously high for the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC certainly hasn't marched through the competition by any means, though, as the Heels have labored to get to this point. After getting trounced 8-1 by rival NC State to open its College World Series play in Omaha, according to NC State Baseball on Twitter, North Carolina now has its back against the wall.
In order to continue playing, UNC must defeat LSU on Tuesday. Another loss will do the Tar Heels in, so it's time for them to start playing like the top seed. If any team in this tournament is capable of turning things around, it is certainly North Carolina. The Tar Heels are arguably the best offensive team remaining in the College World Series, and the bats must come alive if UNC is going to salvage its season.
Most of that rides on the shoulders of third baseman Colin Moran as he leads the Tar Heels this season with 13 home runs and 88 RBI. Cody Stubbs, Landon Lassiter and a host of others need to pick up the pace as well, though. Pitching isn't North Carolina's strong point, but Trent Thornton, Hobbs Johnson, Kent Emanuel and others need to step as well with big performances on the mound. If they do, North Carolina has enough to win it all.
If UNC is going to continue its College World Series journey, it must go through a very formidable opponent in the form of LSU. The Tigers had a fantastic regular season in their own right, and many considered them to be the favorite to win it all despite UNC's status as the top seed. LSU will have a chance to prove its supporters right on Tuesday when it faces North Carolina in a do-or-die elimination game.
It can be argued that LSU has the best pitching in the tournament. Timely offense is obviously needed to win games and ultimately win championships, but great pitching is an equalizer. LSU has a three-headed monster at starting pitcher, but all the pressure will fall on Cody Glenn as he will be tasked with neutralizing the high-powered Tar Heel offense on Tuesday, according to LSU Baseball on Twitter.
Glenn boasts a 7-2 record with a 2.41 ERA, and he is among the best control pitchers in the nation, so he'll give LSU a chance to win. If the Tigers get past UNC, the likes of Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades will need to step up on the mound moving forward. Provided the pitching performs as it did all season long, LSU has enough hitting to get by and make some noise.
One team that has already bounced back from an opening loss in Omaha is Oregon State. The Beavers are the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament, but they were ambushed by Mississippi State as the Bulldogs sent them to the Losers Bracket. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Oregon State had won seven consecutive College World Series games heading into that matchup, so Oregon State is dealing with its first taste of adversity in quite some time.
The Beavers had little trouble getting back on track as they defeated Louisville 11-4 to eliminate the Cardinals and remain in contention. Oregon State must now face Indiana on Wednesday in yet another elimination game as the field is whittled down even further. Like LSU, Oregon State's success depends largely on pitching as it boasts a stable of impressive arms.
Andrew Moore leads the way with his 14-1 record and 1.57 ERA, but fellow starters Matt Boyd and Ben Wetzler have 10 wins apiece and ERAs of 2.25 or less. The Beavers also have a great bullpen, so leads are usually safe as Max Engelbrekt, Tony Bryant and Scott Schultz shut the door more often than not. Oregon State is definitely a team to be reckoned with moving forward.
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