When you “Omaha” what comes to mind? Is it Peyton Manning screaming pass protection audibles through your TV? Does your mouth water at the thought of a nice styrofoam package filled with dry ice and juicy meat sitting on your doorstep?
For College Baseball fans and players “Omaha” symbolizes the end goal of their season, the final tournament sitting between them and a National Championship. By the middle of June most casual, sports fans have had enough of the NCAA. Whether they are still mourning the loss of their school or favorite team in March Madness or just looking ahead to football season, the College World Series continually gets overlooked. This year, however, social media seems to have finally taken notice of the event. Major League Baseball deserves a lot of the credit thanks to its revamped social media accounts and their new “Let the Kids Play campaign.” With play set to begin this upcoming weekend, it is time to preview the field.
|Saturday, June 15||Game 1||Texas Tech vs. Michigan||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 15||Game 2||Arkansas vs. Florida State||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 16||Game 3||Vanderbilt vs. Louisville||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 16||Game 4||Mississippi State vs. Auburn||7:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Monday, June 17||Game 5||Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Monday, June 17||Game 6||Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 18||Game 7||Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 18||Game 8||Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 19||Game 9||Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 20||Game 10||Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Friday, June 21||Game 11||Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday, June 21||Game 12||Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 22||Game 13*||TBD vs. TBD||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 22||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|
The Teams ranked
Vandy is the best team on paper in this tournament. The number 2 overall seed completely dismantled Duke in their Super Regional Round. Despite losing the first game, they came back to win the second game 3-0 off the back of a 19 strikeout no-hitter by Kumar Rocker. As for the third game, they blew out Duke 13-2. Vanderbilt is led by excellent starting pitching and a lineup featuring everyone hitting around or well over 300. Vandy SHOULD make it all the way to the final round.
2. Mississippi State
The Cowbells have been rocking all season long for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State is a well oiled hitting machine led by Center Fielder Jake Magnum and Infielder Tanner Allen. They have led State to a 5-0 record so far in the NCAA tournament, and they’ll look to make it 6-0 when they play host to Cinderella story Auburn in Round 1.
Once again, Arkansas has been a powerhouse this year. They are 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament, and all of their wins have not been close. They also will most likely get the luxury of not having to play Vandy or Mississippi State until their third game.
Louisville is an outstanding team, but they face a tough task in the first round as they take on Vanderbilt. However, The Cardinals have been extremely hot as they outscored the number 10 team in the country, Eastern Carolina, 26-1 in their Super Regional. If they can upset The Commodores in Game 1, do not be surprised if they make a run to the Championship.
5. Texas Tech
Much like Mississippi State, The Red Raiders can absolutely rake. Infielder Cameron Warren is probably the best player left in the tournament. His 354/17/76 slash line led the Texas Tech offense to an outstanding 7.7 runs per game this year. If he and the rest of the bats stay hot, Tech could find themselves in the finals.
Ever to conquer never to yield, my Auburn Tigers have had a magical run to the CWS. Despite their ace Tanner Burns battling injuries all year, they were able to be just good enough to make it to regionals. Tragedy recently struck in the Auburn Family, as longtime play-by-play announcer Rob Bramblett and his wife died in a car accident on May 25. Coach Butch Thompson said he made it clear to the team to not use the tragedy as a rallying cry, but instead to honor the late Bramblett family through their play. The magic has been there for Auburn, and they will try to continue to honor Bramblett’s legacy in Omaha.
7. Florida State
FSU had an extremely disappointing regular season this year, as they were one of the last four teams to get a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Florida State has played well as of late, but it’s hard to overlook a 17-13 regular season in conference record. They may be able to win a game or two in Omaha, but nothing more.
The Wolverines are coming off a massive upset over the number 1 ranked UCLA Bruins. That is about the only thing going for them. Obviously, this is a good team because they made it this far, but their talent just is not good enough to make a run.