Well, what started as a sixty-four team double-elimination tournament has been whittled down to only eight remaining survivors. The regional and super regional games treated us to late game heroics, upset surprises, and expert performances from tomorrow’s MLB stars, but now the cream of this year’s crop must face off with each other.
On Saturday, June 16th, we’ll see the first games played out of Bracket 1 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. In that region of the remaining eight, Oregon State, North Carolina, Washington, and Mississippi St. will compete in a double-elimination mini-tournament to determine who will advance to the Championship Series.
In Bracket 2, Florida, Texas, Texas Tech and Arkansas will battle to decide who will meet Group 1’s winner for all the marbles. The championship matchup will then play out over a best-of-three final series.
So far, the previous rounds of the 2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament have been superb. For one, the Washington Huskies, and Joe DeMers have advanced to the CWS for the first time in school history, leading to this video of Jake Lamb joyously celebrating his little brother’s team’s success.
Meanwhile, Elijah MacNamee has emerged as an unlikely hero for the Mississippi St. Bulldogs and has cemented himself in the legend of this year’s tournament. Then, we have two juggernauts in Oregon St. and Florida, the hottest team in the nation and the defending champs, respectively. If the College World Series is anything like the tournament, these last weeks should be a treat.
I don’t know about you, but beyond just watching the next chapters in this story unfold, I want in on the action! That’s why I’ve been studying lineups, matchups, and betting odds in a quest to nail my remaining bracket and clean up at the sportsbook for these final games.
I’ll be going over my predictions for the College World Series Champions further down this article, including some additional bets that I think have some decent value, impact players to look out for when handicapping games, and how I see each group bracket playing out.
The 2018 Tournament Bracket
Of the 298 eligible teams across the nation, only 64 are chosen to participate in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. The competitors are broken up into sixteen regions, each consisting of four teams.
Each group of four then engages in a double elimination tournament, with regional winners facing off in a best-of-three series in the super regional round.
Gainesville Super Regional
- Raleigh Regional – Doak Field
- Gainesville Regional – Alfred A. McKethan Stadium
In Gainesville, Florida lived up to their top-seed smashing through their region by beating Columbia 13-5, then Jacksonville 3-2. They lost their first matchup in the regional finals against Florida, but with no previous losses, they got another shot at Florida Atlantic.
The second time was a charm, and Florida Atlantic was given their second loss, after having suffered defeat in the first round. Florida then went three games with Auburn, pulling off the miracle walk-off home run in the eleventh inning to advance to the CWS.
Lubbock Super Regional
- Athens Regional – Foley Field
- Lubbock Regional – Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Early in the Athens Region of the Lubbock Super Regional, Georgia’s offense promised to be an unrelenting juggernaut, hanging 18 on Campbell in their first game, and 11 on Troy in the next. However, they’d lose to Duke in consecutive games in the semis, giving up eight runs each time and ending their season.
In the super regional series, Duke would face off with Texas Tech and their devastating three-four combo in the lineup. The Red Raiders would first dispatch New Mexico State 9-2, and then Louisville twice by scores of 10-4 and 11-6. In the Lubbock Super Regional series, Tech and Duck battled it out for three games.
After Duke won Game 2 by a considerable margin, 11-2, Josh Jung’s team rallied back in the final showdown, advancing past the Blue Devils thanks to a 6-2 performance in the deciding game.
Fayetteville Super Regional
- Fayetteville Regional – Baum Stadium
- Greenville Regional – Clark–LeClair Stadium
Arkansas has the most dangerous lineup of all the remaining schools in the CWS. They’ve got tons of powerful bats and are hitting .301 as a squad. The Razorbacks put up ten runs in each of their first two games, rolling over Oral Roberts and Southern Miss by scores of 10-2 in both. Dallas Baptist played them tougher in the Fayetteville Regional final, but they too went down 4-3.
In the Greenville Region, East Carolina started hot, like a one-seed should, before completely imploding. They lost to South Carolina and UNC Wilmington in consecutive games, ending their tournament, and ultimately sending South Carolina through to the three-game series against the Hogs. Arkansas won games one and three, putting up 9 and 14 respectively in their wins.
Austin Super Regional
- Oxford Regional – Swayze Field
- Austin Regional – UFCU Disch–Falk Field
In the Oxford Region, Tennessee Tech lost their second-round matchup to Ole Miss before eking out a win over Missouri State, 2-1, to earn the honor of getting a rematch. In their first semi-finals game, Tennessee Tech walloped Ole Miss 15-5. Then, they beat them again in the rubber match, this time by a score of 3-2 to advance to the Austin Super Regional final series.
There they would meet the University of Texas squad. Led by the bat of Kody Clemens, son of the Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher Roger, the Longhorns breezed through their first two rounds, beating Texas Southern and Texas A&M in consecutive games 10-0 and 8-3 respectively. After beating Indiana by one, they saw Tennessee Tech. Texas lost the first contest in a tight three-game series, but they pulled out the next two to take the Austin Super Region and earn their spot in the final eight-team group.
Corvallis Super Regional
- Minneapolis Regional – Siebert Field
- Corvallis Regional – Goss Stadium at Coleman Field
Oregon State hasn’t been beaten since early April, and the qualifying tournament was no different. They steamrolled the entire field taking down Northwestern State 9-3, and LSU in back-to-back games by scores of 14-1 and 12-0. They’d then represent the Corvallis Region in the Super Regional finals.
Minnesota prevailed on the other side of the bracket. They knocked off Canisius before beating UCLA 3-2 in the tenth inning of their second contest. The Bruins took out Gonzaga to get another crack at the Golden Gophers but lost even worse in the rematch, this time 13-8. That’s where Minnesota’s luck would end, because, in the Corvallis Super Regional series, Oregon State continued their dominance, extending their undefeated streak by winning two games in a row, 8-6 and 6-3 respectively.
Chapel Hill Super Regional
- DeLand Regional – Melching Field at Conrad Park
- Chapel Hill Regional – Boshamer Stadium
The University of North Carolina was the gem of the Chapel Hill Super Regional, which seems fitting. In the DeLand Region, Stetson’s bats got hot, and they whacked Hartford in their first game 8-3 and Oklahoma in their second 10-3. They then faced Oklahoma State again, only to win 11-1 this time, leading to the Super Regional showdown with UNC.
The Tar Heels crushed North Carolina A&T out of the gates, shutting them out 11-0. Houston was up next and put up a fight in game two before eventually losing 4-3 to North Carolina. They’d beat Perdue to get another shot in the semis, but UNC was victorious once again, winning an offensive duel that they won 19 to 11. They then scored seven runs in consecutive games to sweep Stetson and finish the Chapel Hill Super Regional undefeated.
Nashville Super Regional
- Tallahassee Regional – Dick Howser Stadium
- Clemson Regional – Doug Kingsmore Stadium
Florida St. was the top seed in the Tallahassee region, but they never won a game. The Seminoles and Mississippi St. lost their first games, landing them in the elimination bracket for game two. Mississippi St. took the desperation game 3-2, ending Florida St.’s post-season much earlier than expected. They then took on Samford, whom they beat 9-8, before rematching Oklahoma, the team who beat them in the first game.
The Bulldogs had the Sooners’ number this time, outscoring them 13-5 in the regional finals. They followed that up with an 8-1 drubbing to finish the deed. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt was maneuvering through the Clemson Region. They shutout St. John’s 2-0 and narrowly defeated Clemson 4-3. They faced the Tigers again in the regional finals, this time eviscerating them with 19 runs while allowing only 6. But, in the Super Regional Finals, Mississippi St.’s bats would stay hot while Vanderbilt cooled off, giving the Bulldogs the victory in three games.
Fullerton Super Regional
- Stanford Regional – Klein Field at Sunken Diamond
- Conway Regional – Springs Brooks Stadium
The Fullerton Super Regional is where the Cinderella story of the season emerged. In Stanford’s region, the top-seeded Cardinal lost to Cal State Fullerton in their second contest, 2-1. They rallied to take down Baylor, beating them in the elimination bracket by a score of 4-2, but they weren’t able to carry the momentum into their next matchup. In the second game against Fullerton, Stanford lost again, this time 5-2.
Washington was only the three-seed in the Conway Regional. They thumped Connecticut 7-1 in their first game before facing Coastal Carolina, who had just smashed LIU Brooklyn 16-1. The Huskies were unfazed and took down the 2016 National Champs 11-6 in the second game. UConn then won the elimination game for the honor of facing UW in the regional final, which they subsequently dropped 9-6.
The Super Regional Final between Cal State Fullerton and Washington was a barn-burner, stretching across three games. In the tenth inning of the third game, the Huskies scored the game-winning run to end the contest 6-5. The University of Washington was officially one of the eight competitors for the College World Series.
The Remaining Teams:
|School||Record (Conference)||Head coach||Conference|
|Arkansas||44–19 (18–12)||Dave van Horn||SEC|
|Florida||47–19 (20–10)||Kevin O’Sullivan||SEC|
|Mississippi State||37–27 (15–15)||Gary Henderson||SEC|
|North Carolina||43–18 (22–8)||Mike Fox||ACC|
|Oregon State||49–10–1 (20–9–1)||Pat Casey||Pac-12|
|Texas||42–21 (17–7)||David Pierce||Big 12|
|Texas Tech||44–16 (15–9)||Tim Tadlock||Big 12|
|Washington||35–24 (20–10)||Lindsay Meggs||Pac-12|
College World Series Odds – To Win It All
As you can see, Oregon State is a pretty heavy favorite to win the 2018 College World Series. It’s really no surprise, they have been unstoppable thus far in the later months of the year. They haven’t lost a series since April 6-8, and haven’t tasted a single defeat in the post-season competition.
They rank third in the nation in batting average (.320), sixth in slugging percentage (.490), and ninth in scoring (7.7 runs/ game). It’s going to take a Herculean effort to take the Beavers down this year.
Even with OSU sitting at the top of the odds, they’re still nearly paying out 2-to-1. Further down the list, I’m seeing tons of additional value as well. I love Florida, Arkansas, and Texas all at decently long odds to score an upset.
Any of these teams have the talent and hitting to get hot when it matters most, making the current odds ripe for exploitation and profit. I’ll get deeper into my predictions following the next section.
Players to Keep an Eye On
The College World Series is inevitably going to come down to several momentous performances by key athletes. These guys are mostly responsible for getting their teams this far, and will almost certainly play a significant role in the games to come. Here are some of the impact players that you should be aware of:
Elijah MacNamee – OF (Mississippi St.)
Elijah MacNamee is having the post-season of his life. Out of nowhere, he’s transformed into one of the most clutch hitters in the game. He’s already hit two walk-off home runs, one to eliminate Florida St., and the other to take down Vanderbilt in a Super Regional matchup.
Kody Clemens – INF (Texas)
You can’t teach pedigree, some things are just in your blood. Kody isn’t a snarling pitcher like his father, but he’s definitely an electric talent. The starting second-baseman has crushed five home runs in only six tournament games. Furthermore, he’s hitting them when it matters most, with three coming in the Longhorn’s three Super Regional series games.
Nick Madrigal – INF (Oregon St.)
Nick Madrigal is the engine that makes the Beaver’s high-powered offense go. The first-day MLB draft pick shines in a lineup known for its power, speed, and plate discipline. He’s also the nations best second-baseman, making him a must-watch in these 2018 CWS games.
Brady Singer – RHP (Florida)
Brady Singer is one of Florida’s two starting aces, a one-two combo that’s responsible for getting the Gators this far. The National Player of the Year has struck out 107 in 101.2 innings and is only letting opposing lineups hit .187 when he’s on the mound. If Florida goes all the way it’ll be largely in part due to Brady Singer, so make sure to tune in for his starts.
Gabe Holt – INF (Texas Tech)
If the Red Raiders have any prayer of winning the whole thing, they’ll need their offense to carry them. That’s what All-American Freshman Gabe Holt is here for. The future Padres prospect hit .538 in the Super Regional series versus Duke. He’ll need similar numbers against the greedy Florida pitchers if Texas Tech is to go any further.
Kyle Datres – INF (North Carolina)
Kyle Datres leads off for North Carolina as a member of their brutal one-two combo. He’s a big-time impact player that can hit for power, steal bases, and can dazzle on defense when locked in. They’ll need Datres to consistently get on base for the Tar Heels to go far.
Blaine Knight – RHP (Arkansas)
Blaine Knight is a right handed pitcher and a First Team All-American. He’ll work his 93-94 mph fastball, biting curveball and low-80’s slider to his best performances when the lights are brightest. The Hogs’ starting pitchers get a little shakier after Knight, so he’ll need to win his games to keep Arkansas’ dreams alive.
Joe DeMers – RHP (Washington)
Joe DeMers is the feel-good story of the tournament. He’s an absolute stud right-handed pitcher that Washington has followed all the way to the CWS. The Third Team All-American mostly relies on his fastball and changeup, with some extra breaking ball stuff mixed in there as well. He’s been great thus far, but can it continue despite his high usage. DeMers has pitched 23.2 more innings than anyone else on his team.
Prediction & Bets I Like
The Gators are feeling a bit like a team of destiny after this blooper-like walk-off home run. That got them through to their fourth consecutive College World Series, where they’ll be defending their 2017 National Championship crown. Florida could be one of only seven teams to repeat as national champs if they finish this run.
Obviously the most fitting way to send the No. 1 seed into the final #CWS spot! ?
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 12, 2018
UF will rely on the long ball to win CWS games. Wil Dalton, Jonathan India, and Schwartz are all big-time power hitters, while Langworthy, Liput, and Maldonaldo will all give the Gators quality at-bats as well. On the mound, they’ll trot out Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar, as good a one-two punch you’ll find in the nation.
Between the power hitting numbers and the solid top-two pitchers, I love this price of +325. They’d need better than just 23.53% probability of winning for this to be a positive-value bet, which I believe is reasonable. With their championship pedigree, home run hitting and the National Player of the Year, they’ve definitely got a 30% or higher chance of repeating as champs.
While I know they’re a bit of a long-shot, I can’t stop looking at Texas at this price. Texas hasn’t been in the College World Series in four years, so they’ll be pumped to have gotten through in 2018. The way Kody Clemens is hitting is inspiring, which is what I’m counting on for this wager.
The rest of the lineup is on the weaker side relative to their competition, but one scorching All-American can have a potent influence on the others. The implied probability of this bet is 13.33%.
Handicapping the matchups, I’d give them a 15-17% chance. They most likely won’t take the whole thing this year, but if they do, it’ll be a mighty nice payout. I put a lot of stock into legendary genes, which is why I’m putting some money on the Longhorns.
Oregon State (+175)
It’s beginning to feel like this whole ordeal is just an elaborate coronation for the Beavers. After their humiliating upset at the hands of LSU last year, Oregon St. has looked like they’re on an absolute mission this year. It’s hard to imagine anyone derailing them at this point, which makes their almost 2-to-1 odds pretty appealing. I wouldn’t mind getting $1.75 back for every dollar I bet on OSU, it’s not like they have any weaknesses.
As a writer, I hate just to pick the best team, it feels like cheating. But, when you can get decent value in return for a team this spectacular, you have to do it. After watching this season and the tournament, I’d probably put Oregon State’s odds of winning it all at 50%. We only need to beat 36.36% for this bet to hold value, so I’d strongly recommend putting $100 or so on the Beavers either way.
The Wrap Up
After a thrilling NCAA Baseball Tournament, it’s about that time for the College World Series to begin. The field has been reduced to eight competitors, a mix of perennial powers and scrappy overachievers. The stories, drama, and betting opportunities are as fascinating and worthwhile as we’ve seen in years.
Florida and Oregon St. are the two favorites to win it all. The Gators are hoping to ride their pitching aces to their second title in as many years. Meanwhile, the Beavers have been an undeniable force smashing everyone in their path, almost as a way of getting retribution for last year’s early exit.
But don’t sleep on teams like Arkansas, Texas, and North Carolina; all of these teams can explode on offense at any moment.
When I look at the final eight teams, it’s hard to say who will ultimately emerge victoriously. But, that’s okay, because what I really care about are the odds and the value they present. Checking out the posted odds, this year’s College World Series looks to be an excellent opportunity to grow one’s bankroll.
I know I’m putting down money on two or three of the previously mentioned wagers, I hope you find success with whatever you decide as well. Let’s play ball!