College World Series 2018: First-Round Tournament Schedule and Title Predictions

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2018

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27:  Players of the Florida Gators celebrate after defeating the LSU Tigers 6-1 to win the National Championship at the College World Series on June 27, 2017 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The 2018 College World Series begins on Saturday, as eight teams converge on TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, in search of a national title.

The teams will be divided into two brackets and a double-elimination format will commence, with the winner of each four-team bracket advancing to the finals.

Bracket 1 is made up of Oregon State, North Carolina, Mississippi State and Washington.

Bracket 2 is made up of Florida, Arkansas, Texas Tech and Texas.

A complete schedule of games for this year's College World Series can be found at NCAA.com. Below, we've provided an overview of the first wave of games set to take place this weekend, followed by a prediction of which two teams will advance to the best-of-three final and how that series will play out.

    

2018 College World Series First-Round Schedule

Saturday, June 16: Oregon State vs. North Carolina, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Saturday, June 16: Washington vs. Mississippi State, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Sunday, June 17: Arkansas vs. Texas, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Sunday, June 17: Texas Tech vs. Florida, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The losing teams from Saturday's games will meet on Monday at 2 p.m. ET, with the loser of that game going home. The winning teams from Saturday's games will meet on Monday at 7.

The same goes for Sunday's games, with the losers squaring off on Tuesday at 2 in an elimination game and the winners facing each other on Tuesday at 7.

     

Predicted Title Matchup: Florida vs. Oregon State

JJ Schwarz
JJ SchwarzPeter Aiken/Getty Images

Florida Key Players

SP Brady Singer (12-1, 2.30 ERA, 107 K, 101.2 IP)
SP Jackson Kowar (9-5, 3.24 ERA, 102 K, 105.2 IP)
RP Michael Byrne (34 G, 15 SV, 1.59 ERA, 9.5 K/9)
C JJ Schwarz (.325/.404/.601, 12 HR, 46 RBI)
2B Deacon Liput (.291/.376/.493, 9 HR, 37 RBI)
3B Jonathan India (.354/.500/.722, 20 HR, 48 RBI)
OF Wil Dalton (.266/.341/.560, 19 HR, 60 RBI)

The Florida Gators are the reigning national champions and have been the No. 1 team in the nation all season.

With a rotation that's fronted by a pair of Kansas City Royals draft picks in Brady Singer (No. 18 overall) and Jackson Kowar (No. 33) and backed by standout closer Michael Byrne (a Reds' 14th-round pick), they finished the regular season 34th in the nation with a 3.58 ERA.

Offensively, they'll welcome back senior catcher JJ Schwarz, who has been sidelined since he broke a bone in his right hand during the regular-season finale.

He joins No. 5 overall pick Jonathan India and sophomore standout Wil Dalton in the middle of a potent lineup that has averaged 6.8 runs per game, which ranked 36th in the nation.

They're the team to beat for a reason, and betting against them at this point seems foolish.

      

Jake Mulholland
Jake MulhollandNati Harnik/Associated Press

Oregon State Key Players

SP Luke Heimlich (16-1, 2.32 ERA, 151 K, 120.1 IP)
SP Bryce Fehmel (10-1, 2.87 ERA, 60 K, 103.1 IP)
RP Jake Mulholland (27 G, 15 SV, 2.37 ERA, 8.8 K/9)
C Adley Rutschman (.386/.485/.595, 7 HR, 70 RBI)
2B Nick Madrigal (.397/.463/.567, 3 HR, 32 RBI)
SS Cadyn Grenier (.322/.408/.467, 5 HR, 44 RBI)
OF Trevor Larnach (.336/.466/.645, 18 HR, 68 RBI)

Oregon State has advanced to the College World Series for the seventh time in school history and sixth time in the past 14 years. They won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

This year's roster features multiple All-Americans.

Staff ace Luke Heimlich (first team), outfielder Trevor Larnach (second team), catcher Adley Rutschman (third team) and closer Jake Mulholland (third team) all earned postseason honors.

With Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel fronting the rotation and sophomore closer Mulholland anchoring the bullpen, the Beavers finished 22nd in the nation with a 3.42 ERA.

Meanwhile, the offense plated an impressive 7.5 runs per game (ninth in the nation).

Second baseman Nick Madrigal (No. 4 overall to the White Sox) and Larnach (No. 20 overall to the Reds) were both first-round picks, while sophomore catcher Adley Rutschman is a name to know for next year's draft.

Prediction: Florida in three

      

All individual stats courtesy of The Baseball Cube, while team stats come via NCAA.com.

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