College World Series 2017: Predictions for NCAA Baseball Bracket

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2017

The Louisiville Cardinals should be in an excellent position to win the College World Series.
The Louisiville Cardinals should be in an excellent position to win the College World Series.Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The eight teams in this year's College World Series have made it to Omaha, Neb., and they will begin the fight for college baseball's championship with two games Saturday and two games Sunday.

The teams are divided into two brackets, and each bracket winner will be decided by a double-elimination mini-tournament.

The two winners will meet in a best-of-three showdown, commencing June 26.

Here's how the tournament will play out on a game-by-game basis.

2017 College World Series Schedule (all times ET)

Saturday, June 17

Game 1: Cal State Fullerton vs. Oregon State @ 3 p.m. on ESPN

Game 2: Florida State vs. LSU @ 8 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday, June 18

Game 3: Louisville vs. Texas A&M @ 2 p.m. on ESPN

Game 4: TCU vs. Florida @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

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Monday, June 19

Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 @ 2 p.m. on ESPN 

Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 @ 7 p.m. on ESPN

Tuesday, June 20

Game 7: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 @ 2 p.m. on ESPN

Game 8: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 @ 7 p.m. on ESPN

Wednesday, June 21

Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 6 @ 7 p.m. on ESPN

Thursday, June 22

Game 10: Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 5 @ 8 p.m. on ESPN2

Friday, June 23

Game 11: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 9 @ 3 p.m. on ESPN

Game 12: Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 10 @ 8 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday, June 24 (if necessary)

Game 13: Game 11 Teams Play Again @ 3 p.m. on ESPN

Game 14: Game 12 Teams Play Again @ 8 p.m. on ESPN

Monday, June 26

Finals Game 1 @ 7 p.m. on ESPN

Tuesday, June 27

Finals Game 2 @ 8 p.m. on ESPN

Wednesday, June 28 (if necessary)

Finals Game 3 @ 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Louisville Cardinals may (52-10) be the team to beat. The Cardinals feature Brendan McKay, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the fourth pick in the first round of this week's Major League Baseball Draft.

McKay is both a dominant pitcher and a home-run-hitting slugger, and he was the winner of the John Olerud two-way player of the year for the third straight season.

When McKay is not on the mound, he plays first base for Louisville. He has not had a memorable postseason at the plate to this point, but on the mound he had nine strikeouts in the Super Regional-clinching victory over Kentucky while pitching 6.2 innings.

McKay has hit 17 home runs and driven in 56 runs this season, while Drew Ellis has bashed 20 homers and 61 RBI. McKay has a 10-3 record with a 2.34 earned-run average, and opponents are batting just .188 against him.

Louisiana State (48-17) should also have an excellent chance to make a run at the College World Series title, and the Tigers are in the event for the 18th time in their history.

Pitcher Alex Lange was the first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs and has the kind of stuff that can dominate the tournament for the Tigers. 

Lange takes a 9-5 record with a 2.92 earned-run average into the College World Series, and opponents hit .233 against him. He can be somewhat wild, as he walked 40 batters in 111.0 innings, hit four batters and threw nine wild pitches.

Greg Deichmann is LSU's top slugger with 19 home runs and a .606 slugging percentage.

Oregon State (54-4) has the best record of any of the eight teams in the tournament, but the Beavers are also bringing plenty of baggage.

Star left-handed pitcher Luke Heimlich is not in Omaha after Danny Moran and Brad Schmidt of the Oregonian reported Heimlich is a registered sex offender after pleading guilty to sexually molesting a six-year-old female family member in 2012. Heimlich excused himself from the team after this information came to light.

The Beavers have had some spectacular pitching this year, and that should be their strength here even though Heimlich will not be involved. 

Oregon State has a 1.80 team ERA, and Jake Thompson has a 14-0 record with a 1.52 ERA and opponents are batting .184 against him. Nick Madrigal is the team's leading hitter with a .383 average, while KJ Harrison leads Oregon State with eight home runs.

Texas A&M (41-21) has made the College World Series for the first time since 2011 after being stopped in the Super Regionals in each of the last two seasons.

Freshman Braden Shewmake is the key to the offense, as he leads the team with 11 home runs and 68 RBI while hitting .335. No other Aggie hitter has more than six home runs.

Starting pitcher Brigham Hill has an 8-3 record and a 3.18 ERA, while bullpen ace Kaylor Chafin has a 7-2 record and a 2.56 ERA in 31 appearances.

Predictions

We expect Louisville and Louisiana State to emerge from each of their brackets and play in the College World Series championship. 

Oregon State may have a brilliant record, but the Beavers have off-the-field problems that will likely make things difficult for them in Omaha. Texas A&M has a fine team, but opponents may be able to find a way to slow down Shewmake.

McKay is a star of the first order and his two-way ability should give the Cardinals the edge. LSU will give the Cardinals an excellent battle and push the series to three games, but McKay and Ellis have too much power and the Louisville will take home the title.