The 2016 College World Series best-of-three finals begin with Monday's Game 1 in Omaha, Nebraska, between two improbable participants in Arizona and Coastal Carolina.
Both teams emerged out of the losers' bracket, having to rattle off three consecutive victories to reach the grand finale for NCAA baseball's top prize.
Below is an overview of the live stream schedule for the championship series, followed by a preview and predictions for Game 1 between the Wildcats and Chanticleers.
|2016 College World Series Finals TV, Live Stream Schedule|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|1||Monday, June 27||7 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|2||Tuesday, June 28||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|3 (if necessary)||Wednesday, June 29||8 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Arizona vs. Coastal Carolina Game 1 Preview, Predictions
Considering this is the Chanticleers' maiden Omaha appearance and they started the season 7-7, their run to the CWS finals series is among the greatest Cinderella stories in college sports in recent years.
This is a March Madness story in June—a mid-major upstart that shocked all the big shots and ascended to unfathomable heights. ESPN Stats & Info highlighted the historical stakes at play due to the Chants' incredible run:
Fox Sports' Tim Brando applauded the Chants' efforts and made note of their style of play, which has translated well to the big stage:
After Coastal Carolina's 7-5 win over TCU, though, Horned Frogs coach Jim Schlossnagle spoke about how he believed the Chants proved they belonged in Omaha.
"Their resiliency, toughness and talent have shown through in this tournament," said Schlossnagle, per the Associated Press' Eric Olson (via ABC News). "By no means are they a Cinderella. You don't win 53 games as a Cinderella. ... The teams left this time of year are hot, talented or both. They're both."
Now another underdog of sorts stands in the way of a storybook Coastal Carolina conclusion.
The Wildcats have won four national championships and most recently claimed the crown at the 2012 College World Series, yet they were projected to have a down year this season. They've shattered that perception with a resilient bunch of players who have had a chip on their shoulder despite hailing from a Power Five conference.
Arizona head coach Jay Johnson is having immense success in his first season at the helm, and pitching is a big reason why. Per NCAA.com's Joe Boozell, the Wildcats have a team ERA of 3.29. The team has made only one error in Omaha, so defense has played an integral role in Arizona's peak form.
Dave Cooney of KOLD highlighted how favorably some oddsmakers view the Wildcats:
Neither team has been fazed by being on the brink of elimination or dealing with season-long or recent doubters. Superior competition in the regular season should help Arizona's cause, yet the Chants have beaten everyone in front of them among college baseball's elite.
Most fascinating to behold will be the drastic differences in the lineups. The Wildcats rely on small ball and have hit only 26 home runs all season, whereas Coastal Carolina has slugged 95 dingers and also stolen 112 bases to Arizona's 76.
The Chants are an aggressive, attack-mode type of team who aren't intimidated by any adversary. They've defied the odds to get this far, and with a clear edge in offensive firepower, it appears they're best suited to jump out to a fast start.
With four players who've hit at least 15 homers, Coastal Carolina can count on a comeback with one swing of the bat more than its opponent. Although Arizona is likely to bounce back to force a third game, look for the Chants to get the jump on the College World Series finals with a win on Monday.
Game 1 Score Prediction: Coastal Carolina 6, Arizona 3