Much like college basketball and March Madness, the entire college baseball season builds toward the final moments on the calendar, only the eight-team College World Series is something like the Final Four on steroids.
Each of these teams reached Omaha by surviving the double-elimination regional stage and then the best-of-three series against a fellow regional champion in the super regionals. The cream has a way of rising to the top over a long process, and the 2014 College World Series will truly showcase the best the sport has to offer.
An updated bracket can be found on NCAA.com that also includes all of the results of the earlier stages of the NCAA tournament.
Here is a glance at the schedule for the entire event:
|June 14||3 p.m.||ESPN2||UC Irvine (40-23) vs. Texas (43-19)|
|June 14||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Louisville (50-15) vs. Vanderbilt (46-19)|
|June 15||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Texas Tech (45-19) vs. TCU (47-16)|
|June 15||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Virginia (49-14) vs. Ole Miss (46-19)|
|June 16||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 5|
|June 16||8 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 6|
|June 17||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 7|
|June 17||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 8|
|June 18||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 9|
|June 19||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 10|
|June 20||3 p.m.||ESPNU||Game 11|
|June 20||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 12|
|June 21||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 13 (if necessary)|
|June 21||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 14 (if necessary)|
|June 23||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 1|
|June 24||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 2|
|June 25||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 3 (if necessary)|
Remember, the CWS is double elimination until we have two teams remaining. Then, those two squads square off in a winner-take-all best-of-three series for the title.
Dealing with Expectations
Virginia is making a habit out of reaching Omaha. It has been there three times in the past six seasons, although it certainly hopes this time around goes better than the 1-2 effort in 2009 and the 2-2 record in 2011 (as the No. 1 national seed).
The Cavaliers made it this far by knocking off upstart Maryland in a pressure-packed third game in the super regional behind a dominant effort from Josh Sborz on the mound. Their potent lineup pushed across 11 runs in the 11-2 victory and should lead the way in Omaha.
However, Virginia will have to deal with the expectations that come with being the highest-seeded team remaining in the event (No. 3).
It should be able to do just that, though, because expectations are nothing new for this squad. It came into the season ranked No. 1 and has played with a target on its back throughout the year in a dangerous ACC conference.
What’s more, the Cavaliers are loaded with talent in the lineup and on the mound, so as long as one aspect of their game is clicking, they should advance deep into the process.
Apparently everything really is bigger in Texas when it comes to college baseball talent.
Where will the CWS winner come from?
TCU, Texas and Texas Tech all reached the CWS, marking the most Texas schools to compete in the event in a single year. The fact that the Lone Star State is only one team short of making up half of the entire eight-team field is certainly impressive.
This is business as usual for the Longhorns. In fact, they have a record 35 CWS appearances now, which stands in stark contrast to the two TCU counts to its resume. For its part, Texas Tech is making its maiden voyage to Omaha this year.
The Red Raiders will have some support across the athletic department at least:
There is certainly a chance that Texas could meet either TCU or Texas Tech in the championship series, which may just draw football-like attention for a fleeting moment in the state.
Ole Miss Is Back
Few teams were as impressive as Ole Miss in the super regionals when it destroyed a strong Louisiana-Lafayette squad 10-4 to clinch its first CWS after a 42-year drought.
Head coach Mike Bianco certainly seemed relieved after failing to reach the sport’s pinnacle event in his first 13 tries, via Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger: "The road to Omaha is ... windy and to be honest with you I didn't think it would take this long. But when you go, you have to have a special group. And this group is all of that."
What’s most notable about this year’s Rebels is that nobody had high expectations coming into the season. They lost in the regional round quickly last year and lost plenty of talent, including two top pitchers. What’s more, they are in the loaded SEC, which made winning even more difficult on a daily basis.
Alas, Ole Miss surprised and is back after a lengthy absence, and it's ready to compete for a CWS crown.
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