College World Series 2019: Predictions for NCAA Baseball Bracket

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2019

JJ Bleday comes into the College World Series with 26 home runs.
JJ Bleday comes into the College World Series with 26 home runs.Wade Payne/Associated Press

Eight teams are competing for the College World Series championship, with four of them from the Southeastern Conference.

College sports fans have been presented with multiple years' worth of evidence that the SEC regularly plays the best college football in the nation. That conference is making its case for superiority in college baseball as well.

It would be a surprise if Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State or Vanderbilt doesn't come away with the title, which Oregon State won a year ago. Florida State, Louisville, Michigan and Texas Tech will try to wreck the SEC coronation, but it may be quite difficult to accomplish.

     

Schedule

All times ET

Saturday, June 15 (Bracket 1)

Game 1: Texas Tech vs. Michigan, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 2: Arkansas vs. Florida State, 7 p.m., ESPN

Sunday, June 16 (Bracket 2)

Game 3: Vanderbilt vs. Louisville, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 4: Mississippi State vs. Auburn, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 2

Monday, June 17 (Bracket 1)

Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 6: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 7 p.m., ESPN 

Tuesday, June 18 (Bracket 2)

Game 7: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 7 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, June 19 (Bracket 1)

Game 9: Winner of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 6, 7 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, June 20 (Bracket 2)

Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs. Loser of Game 8, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Friday June 21 (semifinals)

Game 11: Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 9, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10, 7 p.m., ESPN 

Saturday, June 22 (semifinals)*

Game 13: TBD vs. TBD, 2 p.m., ESPN

Game 14: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m., ESPN

Monday, June 24

CWS Finals Game 1: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m., ESPN

Tuesday, June 25

CWS Finals Game 2: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, June 26*

CWS Finals Game 3: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m., ESPN

*if necessary

The CWS is a double-elimination tournament. One team in each bracket will be 2-0 and advance to the semifinals, while the 0-2 teams will be knocked out.

The two 1-1 team in each bracket will meet and play the undefeated team in the semifinal. If that 2-1 team wins the semifinal matchup, the two teams will play again for the right to go to the CWS finals. If the 2-0 team wins, it will advance. The CWS finals will be decided in a best-of-three series.

Texas Tech (44-18) appear to have the best chance of the non-SEC teams of rising to the level of CWS champions.

The Red Raiders come into the event with a 3-1 record against the other teams in the CWS, and that means head coach Tim Tadlock's team should be quite confident heading into their first game against the Michigan Wolverines.

Tech is led by first baseman Cameron Warren and shortstop Josh Jung. Warren is hitting .354 with 17 home runs and 76 runs batted in, and Jung is hitting .342 with 14 long balls and 56 RBI.

The Red Raiders will look to right-hander Micah Dallas on the mound. He is 7-0 with a 3.38 earned run average, and he gets support from reliever John McMillon (3-3, 3.30).

Vanderbilt (54-11) has been something of a powerhouse coming into the tournament. The Commodores are 11-6 in their all-time CWS appearances and won the tournament in 2014. They are 8-1 against CWS opponents.

JJ Bleday is the key to their offense, as the outfielder has unleashed 26 home runs while batting .350 with 69 RBI. Third baseman Austin Martin has been enjoying a sensational year with a .410 batting average along with eight homers and 42 RBI.

Vandy has an excellent starting pitching staff that includes Drake Fellows (12-1, 4.15 ERA), Kumar Rocker (10-5, 3.50) and Mason Hickman (8-0, 2.33 ERA). Closer Tyler Brown (14 saves, 2.59 ERA) has been dependable for head coach Tim Corbin.

If any team is going to slow down the Vanderbilt express in Bracket 2, it could be Mississippi State (51-13).

The Bulldogs will depend on Justin Foscue for their power, as he has contributed 14 home runs along with a .338 average and 59 RBI. Catcher Dustin Skelton has also been a key contributor with 10 homers and 55 RBI. Left-handed pitcher Ethan Small bring a 10-2 record and a 1.76 ERA into the CWS.

     

Predictions

Texas Tech is the best team in Bracket 1, and the Bulldogs should be able to advance to the CWS finals behind Warren and Jung. Vanderbilt is the best team in Bracket 2, and the Commodores should advance even though Mississippi State could cause some problems for them.

However, once the Commodores get to the championship round, look for the power bat of Bleday and Martin's ability to trigger the offense to make the difference.

Vanderbilt will win college baseball's championship with two straight wins over Texas Tech. 

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