Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Women's College World Series Predictions

Last year, I gave my predictions on who would win the 2015 Women's College World Series. As it turned out, I ended up correctly predicting all eight teams who made it to Oklahoma City! As a bonus, I also correctly chose the National Champion: my Florida Gators.

With last year boding very well for me, I figured I'd give it another go and see if I can duplicate my success. So without further adieu, here are my predictions for the 2016 NCAA Softball Tournament!


Gainesville Regional
Florida Atlantic (50-7)
UCF (36-20)
#1 Florida (53-5)
Alabama State (27-24)

Winner: #1 Florida over Florida Atlantic in regional final

Why: The Gators won the SEC regular season title while the Owls won both the Conference-USA regular season and tournament titles. Though FAU has had a spectacular season, they will be no match against arguably one of the best Gator softball teams in school history.

Athens Regional
Maine (28-19)
Northwestern (26-26)
Oklahoma State (29-24)
#15 Georgia (40-17)

Winner: #15 Georgia over Oklahoma State in regional final

Why: The Bulldogs and Cowgirls were both middle of the pack teams in their respective conferences. However, Georgia should be motivated after losing in the first round of the SEC Tournament and with a potential super regional matchup against the rival Florida Gators on the horizon.

Lexington Regional
Illinois (35-21)
Utah (32-19)
#9 Kentucky (43-12)
Butler (24-27)

Winner: #9 Kentucky over Illinois in regional final

Why: The Wildcats finished as the second-best team in the SEC regular season standings while Illinois finished seventh in the Big 10 regular season standings. Both teams lost in the quarterfinals of their conference tournaments, though Kentucky was a No. 2 seed and Illinois was a No. 7 seed. 

Kentucky has lost just seven games at John Cropp Stadium, and the home advantage should help them cruise in their regional.

Tallahassee Regional
Florida A&M (27-28)
South Carolina (36-21)
South Florida (44-14)
#8 Florida State (48-8)

Winner: #8 Florida State over South Florida in regional final

Why: The Bulls have had an incredible season thus far, but the Seminoles are coming off of their third straight ACC Tournament title. Losing only nine games at JoAnne Graf Field, FSU will defeat USF in a highly contested regional final.

Eugene Regional
Baylor (43-12)
Long Beach State (32-20)
#5 Oregon (44-8)
Fordham (39-19)

Winner: #5 Oregon over Baylor in regional final

Why: Oregon is coming off their fourth straight Pac-12 regular season title while Baylor finished second overall in the Big 12 regular season standings. Appearing in the last two Women's College World Series, Oregon should have no problem taking care of business in their regional.

Los Angeles Regional
Cal State Bakersfield (16-32)
Cal State Fullerton (43-14)
Fresno State (41-10-1)
#12 UCLA (35-13-1)

Winner: Fresno State over #12 UCLA in regional final

Why: My first upset of the NCAA Tournament, Fresno State lost just one conference game as the Bulldogs won the Mountain West regular season title. UCLA, meanwhile finished second behind Oregon in the Pac-12 regular season standings.

I think UCLA's home field advantage will not intimidate Fresno State, and the Bulldogs will finally defeat the Bruins in the regional final to advance to a super regional.

Knoxville Regional
Arizona (36-19)
Ohio State (33-18-1)
#13 Tennessee (41-14)
Marist (45-11)

Winner: #13 Tennessee over Arizona in regional final

Why: Tennessee finished third in the SEC regular season standings and lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament. On the other side, Arizona finished smack dab in the middle of the Pac-12 regular season title race with a fifth place finish in the standings.

Playing in three of the last four Women's College World Series, Tennessee's postseason experience will show as the Lady Vols continue their quest for the school's ever first softball National Championship.

Auburn Regional
Jacksonville State (41-15)
Oregon State (30-18)
South Carolina Upstate (42-13)
#4 Auburn (49-9)

Winner: #4 Auburn over Oregon State in regional final

Why: Auburn won their second consecutive SEC Tournament Championship last Saturday. Though the other three team's in the Tigers' region have respectable records, Auburn's region as a whole does not seem too difficult. They will steamroll their way into a super regional.

Norman Regional
Mississippi (39-20)
Tulsa (35-19)
#3 Oklahoma (47-7)
Wichita State (35-19)

Winner: #3 Oklahoma over Mississippi in regional final

Why: Oklahoma has lost two games at home all year and won the Big 12 regular season title. Ole Miss finished in the bottom half of the SEC regular season standings. The Sooners will have no problem advancing out of this region.

Lafayette Regional
Boston University (28-22)
Texas (37-14)
Texas A&M (37-18)
#14 Louisiana-Lafayette (43-17)

Winner: #14 Louisiana-Lafayette over Texas A&M in regional final

Why: The Ragin' Cajuns have appeared in four straight super regionals and reached the Women's College World Series in 2014. I like their chances to make it five in a row as the Aggies have not made it to a super regional since 2008.

Seattle Regional
Minnesota (41-12)
North Dakota State (38-13)
#11 Washington (36-13)
Weber State (37-17)

Winner: Minnesota over #11 Washington in regional final

Why: My second upset in regional play, Minnesota won the Big 10 Tournament while finishing second in the regular season standings. Washington finished third in the Pac-12 standings but, in my opinion, will not be able to overcome a Gopher team looking to reach their first WCWS since 1978.

Tuscaloosa Regional
California (31-22)
Samford (40-18)
Texas State (39-20)
#6 Alabama (46-12)

Winner: #6 Alabama over California in regional final

Why: Alabama has played in a super regional every year since 2005 with eight WCWS appearances sprinkled in the mix. California finished in the bottom four of the the Pac-12 standings. This is a no-brainer, Alabama will advance easily.

Harrisonburg Regional
#7 James Madison (46-4)
Longwood (38-18)
North Carolina (31-23)
Princeton (23-26)

Winner: #7 James Madison over North Carolina in regional final

Why: James Madison hosted a regional last year and did not even make it to the regional final. Winning both the Colonial regular season and tournament titles, the Dukes will be determined to win in front of their home fans and advance to the first super regional in school history.

On the other side, the Tarheels finished in the middle of the ACC standings while losing in the tournament semifinals. Even though UNC is seeking their first super regionals appearance in school history, I don't see them beating a motivated James Madison in a regional final.

Baton Rouge Regional
Arizona State (30-25)
LIU Brooklyn (30-25)
McNeese State (42-12)
#10 LSU (45-15)

Winner: #10 LSU over McNeese State in regional final

Why: LSU finished in the middle of the SEC standings while McNeese State won the Southland regular season title. Though the Tigers and Cowgirls may be evenly matched opponents for the most part, LSU will win mainly because of home field advantage.

Columbia Regional
Louisville (35-15)
Nebraska (33-19)
#15 Missouri (39-14)
BYU (35-19)

Winner: Nebraska over #15 Missouri in regional final

Why: The fact that Missouri is a national seed shocks me. They lost in the first round of the SEC Tournament and barely finished above LSU in the regular season standings. Of all my upsets, this one is my riskiest gamble. I'm picking the Nebraska Cornhuskers to take this one.

Louisville is tempting, but I believe in the Cornhuskers. They might have finished fifth in the Big 10 standings and lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, but I think they will muster some magic and defeat Missouri as an old Big 12 rivalry renews itself.

Ann Arbor Regional
Miami of Ohio (34-21)
Notre Dame (41-11)
Valparaiso (18-32)
#2 Michigan (46-5)

Winner: #2 Michigan over Notre Dame in regional final

Why: Michigan won the Big 10 regular season title and lost just one game at home the whole season. Although Notre Dame finished third in the ACC regular season standings and lost in the tournament championship, the Fighting Irish will not prevail past the Wolverines and their home field advantage.

Super Regionals
Now that I have predicted the regional winners, it is now on to the super regionals! Keep in mind that a team needs to win two out of three games to advance to the Women's College World Series!

Gainesville Super Regional
#1 Florida vs #15 Georgia

Winner: #1 Florida

Why: This will be the first meeting between Florida and Georgia all season. In the softball version of the "World's Greatest Cocktail Party", the Gators will easily beat the Bulldogs to advance to Oklahoma City.

Tallahassee Super Regional
#8 Florida State vs #9 Kentucky

Winner: #8 Florida State

Why: It's hard to pick FSU of all teams over an SEC squad, but the 'Noles are mighty good this year. This super regional might go three, but the Seminoles will punch their ticket back to the WCWS.

Eugene Super Regional
#5 Oregon vs Fresno State

Winner: #5 Oregon

Why: Fresno State may be good enough to get out of regional play, but they will have a rude awakening when they play the Ducks. Oregon will wipe the floor with the Bulldogs and reach their third consecutive WCWS.

Auburn Super Regional
#4 Auburn vs #13 Tennessee

Winner: #4 Auburn

Why: Despite losing both games they played against the Lady Vols in Knoxville, the Tigers will be victorious this time around mainly because of the home field advantage. This super regional will go three games, but Auburn will return to the WCWS.

Norman Super Regional
#3 Oklahoma vs #14 UL-Lafayette

Winner: #3 Oklahoma

Why: This is a very intriguing matchup, but I have to go with the Sooners. I could see this super regional potentially going three games, but I think Oklahoma takes care of business with a sweep.

Tuscaloosa Super Regional
#6 Alabama vs Minnesota

Winner: #6 Alabama

Why: Minnesota's magical tournament run ends here. Alabama will beat them in two games and advance to their third straight WCWS.

Harrisonburg Super Regional
#7 James Madison vs #10 LSU

Winner: #7 James Madison

Why: This is another super regional that catches my eye. Very uncharacteristic of me yet again, I'm picking against the SEC team. In three games, James Madison will advance to their first WCWS in school history!

Ann Arbor Super Regional
#2 Michigan vs Nebraska

Winner: #2 Michigan

Why: Like my two other unseeded regional winners, Nebraska's road will end in Ann Arbor. Though the Cornhuskers won two games against the Wolverines in Lincoln, it will be different this time around. I think the super regional will go three games, but Michigan will prevail and reach their second straight WCWS.

If my picks were to come to fruition, let's see how the Women's College World Series would turn out!

Women's College World Series First Round
#1 Florida vs #8 Florida State

Winner: #1 Florida

Why: In the third meeting between these Sunshine State rivals this season, the Gators will defeat the Seminoles yet again in a classic game. It will be a competitive contest, but Florida has won five straight games over Florida State for a reason.

#4 Auburn vs #5 Oregon

Winner: #4 Auburn

Why: Auburn made it to the semifinals last season while Oregon played in the semis two years ago. In a battle between two talented teams, the Tigers will emerge victorious as a rematch with Florida looms in the second round.

#3 Oklahoma vs #6 Alabama

Winner: #6 Alabama

Why: Alabama and Oklahoma have hooked up in the last two postseasons with Alabama winning on both occasions. This time around, I think history will continue to repeat itself. If 'Bama can take two games from the Gators in Gainesville, then they should have no problem defeating a Sooner team that has struggled to beat them.

#2 Michigan vs #7 James Madison

Winner: #2 Michigan

Why: Postseason experience will be the difference maker here. Michigan will be making their 13th WCWS appearance while James Madison will be making their first. It will be a close game, but Michigan will get the 'W'.

Elimination Games
#5 Oregon vs #8 Florida State

Winner: #5 Oregon

Why: Oregon is not about to let themselves go two and out for the second year in the row. They will defeat the Seminoles and keep their WCWS dreams alive.

#3 Oklahoma vs #7 James Madison

Winner: #3 Oklahoma

Why: Oklahoma will not let their season end against a team who has never won a WCWS game. The Sooners will take care of James Madison and eliminate the Dukes.

End Result: #7 James Madison & #8 Florida State ELIMINATED

Second Round
#1 Florida vs #4 Auburn

Winner: #1 Florida

Why: Florida is 4-2 against Auburn on the season. Also keep in mind that the Gators save their best softball for the WCWS. Though Auburn will give the Orange and Blue a run for their money, Florida will avenge their SEC Tournament loss to the Tigers and advance to the semifinals.

#2 Michigan vs #6 Alabama

Winner: #2 Michigan

Why: Essentially getting an easy draw with James Madison in the first round, Michigan's first real challenge will take shape in Alabama. Having played the Tide in the first round of last year's WCWS, the Wolverines will duplicate last postseason's success and once again down Alabama.

Second Round Elimination Games
#5 Oregon vs #6 Alabama

Winner: #6 Alabama

Why: Alabama and Oregon will once again meet with their seasons on the line. Just like last year's WCWS, Alabama will win and reach their second semifinals in three years.

#3 Oklahoma vs #4 Auburn

Winner: #4 Auburn

Why: As Oklahoma struggles against Alabama, the same will prove true for Auburn. The Tigers will eliminate the Sooners and reach the semifinals for the second straight year.

End Result: #3 Oklahoma & #5 Oregon ELIMINATED

WCWS Semifinals
#1 Florida vs #6 Alabama

Winner: #1 Florida

Why: Although Alabama took two of three from Florida during the regular season, the Tide will again have to win two over the Gators to advance to the finals. They may take the first game, but they will not defeat Florida in a doubleheader. Florida will eliminate the Tide and advance to their third consecutive WCWS Finals.

#2 Michigan vs #4 Auburn

Winner: #4 Auburn

Why: Winning two games against the second-best team in the country is a very daunting task, but if any team is up to the challenge it is Auburn. The Tigers will need all hands on deck to pull the upset, but I believe that they will beat Michigan and set up yet ANOTHER rematch against the Gators.

WCWS Finals
#1 Florida vs #4 Auburn

Winner: #1 Florida

Why: Like I incorrectly predicted last year, Florida and Auburn will meet one final time with the National Championship on the line. This series will go three games and (like I said last year) Florida will win the series 2-1. It will be exhilarating, it will be close, and it will ultimately be a three-peat for my Florida Gators!

National Champion:

Florida Gators!

It can be argued there is some bias in my prediction of Florida winning their third consecutive National Championship. In all honestly, that is not the case.

Even if I did not go to the University of Florida and was just a casual softball fan, I would still pick Florida. It's not too difficult of a decision. They have been incredible all year. The offense, defense, and pitching have all been spectacular and all five of their losses have been to strictly SEC opponents!

Florida is in the midst of a spectacular run for their softball program. We are all witnessing a dynasty in the making. Biased or not, I am happy to say that I attended UF during an era such as this.

So there's my predictions. Let's see what happens! Also, stay tuned for my 2016 College World Series predictions coming out in a couple of weeks!

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