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CWS 2015: Predicting Winners and Scores for Monday's NCAA Baseball Bracket

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2015

Florida's Peter Alonso, left, is greeted by Richie Martin (12), after scoring on a single by Mike Rivera during the fourth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game against Miami at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike Theiler)
Mike Theiler/Associated Press

The Arkansas Razorbacks and Miami Hurricanes better make travel plans because one of the two teams will be heading home from the 2015 College World Series on Monday.

Both Miami and Arkansas lost their first games in Omaha, Nebraska, which means they're one more loss from exiting the tournament. The winner will get one step closer to clawing out of the loser's bracket.

The Florida Gators and Virginia Cavaliers will also play to determine who goes to the semifinals and who gets the the Hurricanes or Razorbacks.

Below, you'll find previews for the two games scheduled to begin Monday.

Monday Schedule

Time (ET)TeamsTV InfoLive Stream
3 p.m.ArkansasMiamiESPN2Watch ESPN
8 p.m.FloridaVirginiaESPN2Watch ESPN
Source: NCAA.com

Monday Previews and Predictions

Arkansas vs. Miami

Ted Kirk/Associated Press

Miami might still be shell-shocked from its 15-3 defeat to Florida a few days ago. The Gators scored 11 runs in the bottom of the fourth, which tied the single-inning scoring record, per NCAA Baseball:

NCAA Baseball @NCAACWS

[FACT] Florida's 11-run fourth inning ties a #CWS record!! Including the Gators, it has happened eight times in history.

Making a firm judgment about the Hurricanes after that game would be extremely unfair, though. They're one of the best teams in the country and excel offensively.

Miami is sixth in the country in batting average (.311), ninth in slugging (.364) and first in runs (541) by a wide margin. Eight Hurricanes hitters are batting over .300, and no one has shined brighter than David Thompson. His 19 home runs rank second in the country, while nobody can top his 89 runs batted in.

If you want to talk about individual talent, though, Arkansas might boast the single best player in this matchup: Andrew Benintendi.

The Boston Red Sox selected Benintendi seventh overall in the 2015 MLB draft, and it's not hard to see why. The sophomore outfielder is hitting .381 with 20 home runs and 57 runs batted in. Benintendi credited part of his success with a change to his position in the lineup.

"This year, hitting third, has changed my approach in where I'm trying to drive the balls to the gaps and hit for more power," he said, per NCAA.com's Stephen Sellner. "I think I've been able to do that without striking out as much."

One hitter can only impact a baseball game so much, but Benintendi unquestionably will cause headaches for Hurricanes pitching Monday.

Speaking of pitching, Miami's Thomas Woodrey will oppose Arkansas' Keaton McKinney on the mound.

McKinney is the Razorbacks' ace. He's 6-2 with a 3.27 earned-run average. In 82.2 innings, the freshman right-hander has allowed just six home runs, while opposing batters are hitting .229 against him. He does have 37 walks to 43 strikeouts, so Miami might be able to work the count against him.

Woodrey is no slouch himself, going 7-2 and posting a 3.06 ERA. As long as he can keep Arkansas to two or three runs, the Hurricanes offense should do the job.

Miami can't be any worse than it was in its last game, and its hitters will look to bounce back in a big way Monday.

Prediction: Miami 5, Arkansas 3

Florida vs. Virginia

Mike Theiler/Associated Press

Virginia might be the hardest team to read at the College World Series this year. The Cavaliers were good but not great during the regular season and then went on to lose all three of their pool-play games in the ACC tournament.

Since the NCAA tourney began, they've been a completely different team. Virginia hasn't lost yet between May 29 and June 13, going a perfect 6-0. Of course, four of those wins came by two runs for fewer, while another was decided in 11 innings.

You keep wondering if the Cavaliers' luck will run out at some point. Monday may be the day it happens.

Before the NCAA tournament began, pundits considered Florida one of the top favorites to win the national championship. The Gators have more talent than almost any team in the country, as evidenced by the fact they had a half-dozen players go in the first 10 rounds of the 2015 draft.

Sure, Florida can't score 15 runs every game, but it's also a testament to the team's offensive balance that those 15 runs came on just two extra-base hits, neither of which was a home run. Whether it's Josh Tobias, Buddy Reed, JJ Schwarz or Harrison Bader, there are so many guys who can hurt you offensively.

As if that's not enough to scare Virginia fans, Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan is also throwing A.J. Puk on the mound. The sophomore lefty might have a 3.96 ERA, but he also boasts 99 strikeouts in 72.2 innings. Opposing hitters are batting .211 against him.

Dan Kirby of Through the Fence Baseball is already looking at Puk as a potential No. 1 pick in 2016:

Dan Kirby @DanMKirby

Last 5 starts for Florida 6'-7" LHP AJ Puk and 1.1 candidate for next year: 1.18 ERA, 0.89 WHIP w/ 48 K/10 BB over 30.1 IP. #99MPH

Puk has really looked to have found his groove of late, and he might be the guy the Cavaliers least want to face.

The good news for either Florida or Virginia is that a defeat Monday doesn't mean an exit from Omaha.

The odds are that the Cavaliers will be the team to pick up that first defeat.

Prediction: Florida 4, Virginia 1

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