This year's College World Series has a loaded field that makes it impossible to handicap a single favorite. The eight teams that made the trek to Omaha include five No. 1 seeds, including Baseball America's preseason No. 1 overall Virginia.
Despite the seeds of the teams in the 2014 College World Series, there's a lot of parity in the field. Going by this year's final Baseball America Top 25, Virginia is the only team ranked within the top 10 who is still playing.
Furthermore, UC Irvine and Texas Tech weren't even in the rankings to end the season. Irvine upset Oregon State in the super regionals, while Texas Tech had a favorable matchup against regional darling College of Charleston.
With so much diversity among the field, this year's event isn't going to follow any sort of script. There hasn't been a No. 1 seed that has won it all in Omaha since South Carolina accomplished the feat in 2011.
Here we've got all the information you need to prepare for this year's college baseball extravaganza, as we will take a look at the schedule and bracket as well as some last-minute predictions before things get started on Friday.
|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)|
An up-to-date bracket for the 2014 College World Series can be found at NCAA.com by clicking here.
Virginia Won't Lose This Weekend...
Virginia's side of the bracket doesn't do it any favors, as the side features two other No. 1 seeds (Mississippi and TCU) and a No. 2 seed in Texas Tech that was ranked in the Baseball America Top 25 until the final week of the season.
Despite that high level of competition, the Cavaliers have responded to adversity this season with the kind of poise and calm you would expect from a championship-caliber team. They didn't quite play up to their preseason hype, even after Aaron Fitt of Baseball America wrote about how stacked the roster was coming off an impressive 50-plus win season in 2013:
Virginia is No. 1 in Baseball America’s preseason Top 25 rankings for the first time in program history. The Cavaliers, who have reached the 50-win plateau in three of the last four years, return eight starters from a team that ranked in the nation’s top 10 last year in scoring, doubles, triples, slugging and walks.
The College World Series has brought out the best Virginia has to offer, as the team swept the regionals and secured a dominating 11-2 win over Maryland in Game 3 of the super regionals.
...Neither Will Vanderbilt
On the other side of the bracket, Vanderbilt has to go through a Louisville team that has yet to lose in the College World Series. The Cardinals have yet to really be tested this year, though, with just one win against a team that finished within the Top 25 (Kentucky).
Which non-No. 1 seed will make the deepest run in Omaha?
Vanderbilt is always one of the best teams in the country and won 41 games in the regular season while playing in the best conference (SEC). The Commodores did lose to Louisville in last year's super regionals, but the biggest difference between that team and this one is the fact that Vandy scores more runs now.
The Commodores put up 23 runs in their two wins over Stanford in the super regional and averaged seven runs per game in the regionals. UC Irvine and Texas, who meet in the other game on Vandy's side of the bracket, aren't in the same class as either of their counterparts.
Vanderbilt and Virginia appear to be on a collision course for the final, and this weekend will do nothing to change that.
Mississippi Will Lose Consecutive Games
Mississippi is the kind of team that fans want to see make a deep run in the College World Series. The Rebels are capable of putting up a lot of runs in a hurry, as evidenced by their 10-run outburst at Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 3 of the super regionals, and they have a potent lineup that hit .303 this season with 42 home runs.
College baseball, especially the College World Series, has become all about pitching due to the change in the type of bats that are used and the huge park in Omaha. That makes Mississippi an outlier in many regards, since its strength is in the batter's box.
However, playing in the same bracket as three of the top pitching staffs in college baseball, Ole Miss is at a clear disadvantage. This season, TCU and Virginia both ranked within the top five in terms of team ERA, the top seven in terms of strikeout-to-walk ratio and the top 12 in terms of strikeouts per nine innings.
Mississippi does have a solid pitching staff in its own right that ranked 16th in ERA, but it has yet to play against two teams with a lineup the caliber of Virginia and TCU. The Cavaliers put the ball in play as well as any team in the country, and TCU has averaged six runs in potential elimination games.
Even Texas Tech, which is making its first trip to the College World Series, has been pitching its brains out with back-to-back shutouts against College of Charleston in the super regionals and two shutouts in four regional matchups.
There's just too much pitching on this side of the bracket for Mississippi's exciting, powerful offense to overcome. If the Rebels didn't also have to play in TD Ameritrade Park, which is a place where offense goes to die, they would have a better shot.
Stats courtesy of NCAA.com.
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