Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 College World Series Predictions

Last year, I wrote this article and correctly predicted three of the eight teams who made it to the College World Series. That is by no means terrible, but obviously hailed in comparison to my perfect selection of all the 2015 WCWS participants.

Continuing the tradition, I will once again give my predictions on who is going to win the 2016 Men's College World Series. The eight national seeds for the tournament are: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Miami, No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 5 Texas Tech, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Clemson, and No. 8 LSU.

As I did last week with softball, I am going to again predict which teams I believe will advance out of each region and in the process I hope to correctly pick the National Champion for the 2016 baseball season! Without further adieu, let us begin!


Gainesville Regional
No. 1 Florida (47-13)
Bethune-Cookman (29-25)
UConn (37-23)
Georgia Tech (36-23)

Winner: No. 1 Florida over UConn in regional final

Why: Florida is the best team in the country and is having a historic season. With a pitching staff full of depth and a lineup that will regain Peter Alonso, they should have no problem advancing out of their regional with no losses.

Tallahassee Regional
Florida State (37-20)
Alabama State (38-15)
South Alabama (40-20)
Southern Miss (40-18)

Winner: Florida State over South Alabama in regional final

Why: The Seminoles lost the ACC Championship in a slugfest to Clemson and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Nevertheless, the teams in their regional pose no real challenge and should not stop FSU from attaining its long awaited rematch with Florida in super regionals.

Raleigh Regional
North Carolina State (35-20)
Navy (42-14)
St Mary's (33-23)
Coastal Carolina (44-15)

Winner: Navy over Coastal Carolina in regional final

Why: My first upset of the tournament, the Navy Midshipmen won the Patriot League Championship and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Prior to the tournament, Navy had won nine straight contests and has also shown some tenacity on the road as they have lost just three total road games the whole year.

Baton Rouge Regional
No. 8 LSU (42-18)
Utah Valley (37-21)
Southeastern La. (39-19)
Rice (35-22)

Winner: No. 8 LSU over Rice in regional final

Why: Using the nonsense that is their "Rally Possum", LSU will obliterate this region with Rice perhaps giving them a challenge in the regional final. The voodoo of the opossum aside, LSU is actually a pretty good team.

Lubbock Regional
No. 5 Texas Tech (41-16)
Fairfield (32-24)
New Mexico (38-31)
Dallas Baptist (41-17)

Winner: No. 5 Texas Tech over Dallas Baptist in regional final

Why: The Red Raiders have had a fantastic season so far as they won their second ever Big-12 regular season championship. Looking to return to Omaha for the second time in program history, Texas Tech will make the Big-12 proud and defeat a feisty Dallas Baptist team that faltered in regional play last season.

Charlottesville Regional
Virginia (37-20)
William & Mary (29-29)
East Carolina (34-21-1)
Bryant (47-10)

Winner: Bryant over Virginia in regional final

Why: My second and only other upset of regional play, I believe that the Bulldogs will defeat the defending National Champions! Bryant won the Northeast Conference Championship and is currently on a 10-game winning streak.

Fort Worth Regional
TCU (42-15)
Oral Roberts (38-19)
Gonzaga (35-19)
Arizona State (34-21)

Winner: TCU over Gonzaga in regional final

Why: Not much national attention has been given to TCU with the rise of Texas A&M. However, the Horned Frogs did win the Big-12 Tournament and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Even though they beat Texas A&M in last year's super regional, TCU would love the opportunity to reassert their dominance in the Lone Star State.

College Station Regional
No. 4 Texas A&M (45-14)
Binghamton (30-23)
Wake Forest (34-25)
Minnesota (34-20)

Winner: No. 4 Texas A&M over Wake Forest in regional final

Why: The Aggies won their first ever SEC Tournament title after bashing Florida 12-5. With arguably one of the best offenses in the country, the Aggies will be scoring runs for days as they cruise into an potential rematch with TCU in super regionals.

Louisville Regional
No. 2 Louisville (47-11)
Western Michigan (22-32)
Wright State (44-15)
Ohio State (43-18-1)

Winner: No. 2 Louisville over Ohio State in regional final

Why: The Cardinals yet again finished at the top of the ACC regular season standings. Despite stumbling in the ACC Tournament, Louisville had boasted a 10-game winning streak before dropping its last two games to Clemson and Virginia. After a heartbreaking loss in Game 3 of their super regional last season, this Cardinal team will look to pick up the mantle and take care of some unfinished business.

Nashville Regional
Vanderbilt (43-17)
Xavier (30-28)
Washington (32-21)
UC Santa Barbara (37-18-1)

Winner: Vanderbilt over Washington in regional final

Why: Vandy has a pitching staff with two Golden Spikes Semifinalists in Jordan Sheffield and Kyle Wright, not to mention they have played in two straight College World Series Finals. The Commodores will advance out of their regional with no problem.

Columbia Regional
South Carolina (42-15)
Rhode Island (30-25)
Duke (33-22)
UNCW (38-19)

Winner: South Carolina over UNCW in regional final

Why: Despite an early exit from the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks are still the same program that won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. Seeking to reach the top yet again, South Carolina will march through their regional into a probable matchup with Clemson. 

Clemson Regional
No. 7 Clemson (42-18)
Western Carolina (30-29)
Nebraska (37-20)
Oklahoma State (36-20)

Winner: No. 7 Clemson over Oklahoma State in regional final

Why: Receiving a national seed solely based on their impressive performance in the ACC Tournament, the Clemson Tigers will have a chip on their shoulder to prove they deserved their ranking. Considering that Clemson has won nine straight games and is coming off a dominating ACC Championship victory, I think they will clean up in this regional on route to a hookup with rival South Carolina.

Starkville Regional
No. 6 Mississippi State (41-16-1)
Southeast Missouri (39-19)
Lousiana Tech (40-18)
Cal State Fullerton (35-21)

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech in regional final

Why: Mississippi State has been an incredible story this season with their turnaround from a 24-30 (8-22 SEC) record last year. Winning the SEC regular season title, the Bulldogs will look to continue their magical season as they battle through what may be one of the more tougher regionals in the tournament. Ultimately though, they will prevail and Miss State fans can ring their cowbells until the cows come home.

Lafayette Regional
UL-Lafayette (41-19)
Princeton (24-19)
Sam Houston State (41-20)
Arizona (38-20)

Winner: UL-Lafayette over Sam Houston State in regional final

Why: With the threat of LSU finally out of sight for super regionals, the Sun Belt regular season co-champion and tournament champion Ragin' Cajuns should breathe easier as they battle through what may also be one of the more challenging regionals in the tournament.

Oxford Regional
Ole Miss (43-17)
Utah (25-27)
Boston College (31-20)
Tulane (39-19)

Winner: Ole Miss over Tulane in regional final

Why: One bad inning removed from a potential shot at playing in the SEC Tournament, the Ole Miss Rebels had their share of marquee wins and brutal losses this season. Posting a 6-4 record in their last 10 games, Ole Miss will feed off the energy of their home crowd and advance into the supers.

Coral Gables Regional
No. 3 Miami (45-11)
Stetson (29-29)
Long Beach State (36-20)
Florida Atlantic (38-17)

Winner: No. 3 Miami over Florida Atlantic in regional final

Why: Miami has lost just six games at Mark Light Field the entire season and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Interestingly enough, Florida Atlantic was one of those six home losses for Miami. However, Miami is way too talented both pitching-wise and offensively to not advance out their regional.

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

Gainesville Super Regional
No. 1 Florida vs Florida State

Winner: No. 1 Florida

Why: In a rematch of last year's super regional, Florida will defeat the Seminoles in three games. Even though the Gators have won fight straight against the 'Noles and are 3-0 against them this year, I believe that FSU will find a way to make it interesting in Gainesville.

Baton Rouge Super Regional
No. 8 LSU vs Navy

Winner: No. 8 LSU

Why: Navy has no shot whatsoever of winning at Alex Box Stadium. With over 10,000 absurd, opossum-crazed LSU fans losing their minds and screaming at the Midshipmen in one of the most hostile environments in the sport, this pick is too easy. Besides, the crowd is half the battle as LSU also fields a very talented ball club.

Lubbock Super Regional
No. 5 Texas Tech vs Bryant

Winner: No. 5 Texas Tech

Why: The Red Raiders will punch their second trip to the CWS in three years as they defeat the Bryant Bulldogs in three games.

College Station Super Regional
No. 4 Texas A&M vs TCU

Winner: No. 4 Texas A&M

Why: One of the other highly awaited rematches of this postseason, the result will be completely different than last year. It may take three games, but the Texas A&M Aggies will prevail over TCU as a changing of the guard commences in the state of Texas.

Louisville Super Regional
No. 2 Louisville vs Vanderbilt

Winner: No. 2 Louisville

Why: The last time these two teams met in a super regional was in 2013. Louisville emerged as the victor, defending home turf and winning in two games. Now three years later, the battle will be just as great as the Cards will avenge their shortcomings of last season and defeat the Commodores to advance to the College World Series. Keep in mind also that Louisville and Vandy hooked up earlier this season on May 10th in Nashville. The Cards won 8-5.

Clemson Super Regional
No. 7 Clemson vs South Carolina

Winner: No. 7 Clemson

Why: The Tigers and Gamecocks have not hooked up in the postseason since South Carolina defeated Clemson in the regional final all the way back in 2012. Now, with state (and even conference) pride on the line, the Tigers will pick up where they left off in the regular season and defeat the Gamecocks with a shocking sweep. For reference, Clemson has beaten South Carolina in three of their four meetings this season.

Starkville Super Regional
No. 6 Mississippi State vs UL-Lafayette

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: Seeking to get back to Omaha for the first time since 2013, the Bulldogs will hold off the Ragin' Cajuns and advance to the 10th College World Series in school history.

Coral Gables Super Regional
No. 3 Miami vs Ole Miss

Winner: No. 3 Miami

Why: For some reason, I see Ole Miss pushing the Hurricanes to the brink. This super regional will go three games, but the home-field advantage will be one of the deciding factors in this matchup as Miami advances to consecutive College World Series for the first time since 2003-04.

College World Series
If my picks stay true and all eight of the national seeds advance, let's see how the College World Series would turn out!

College World Series First Round
No. 1 Florida vs No. 8 LSU

Winner: No. 1 Florida

Why: As a Florida fan, I can't help but be annoyed that Florida's first potential matchup of the CWS could be LSU. The fans will be loud and the announcers will ride that opossum story until it dies for good. Also, the Tigers have beaten the Gators in three of five games this season. Regardless, Florida and their "Rally Owl" will win the sixth meeting between these two rivals as Logan Shore out-pitches Alex Lange.

No. 4 Texas A&M vs No. 5 Texas Tech

Winner: No. 4 Texas A&M 

Why: In a matchup between old Big-12 rivals, the Aggies will out-slug the Red Raiders as they win their first CWS game since 1993.

No. 2 Louisville vs No. 7 Clemson

Winner: No. 7 Clemson

Why: Louisville swept Clemson in the regular season, but who I believe will be college baseball's hottest team at this point will finally earn a 'W' against the Cards when it matters the most.

No. 3 Miami vs No. 6 Mississippi State

Winner: No. 3 Miami

Why: Facing an SEC team in the opening round of the CWS for the second straight year, Miami will not get obliterated this time. It will be a close game, but the 'Canes will rely on some late inning heroics to nab the victory.

Elimination Games
No. 8 LSU vs No. 5 Texas Tech

Winner: No. 8 LSU

Why: LSU's "rally possum" mojo will keep their season alive for at least one more game as the Tigers send the Red Raiders home with an 0-4 all-time CWS record.

No. 2 Louisville vs No. 6 Mississippi State

Winner: No. 2 Louisville

Why: In a battle between a perennial power and the cinderella story, the clock will strike midnight. Louisville will save their season and send the Bulldogs back to Starkville empty-handed.

End Result: No. 5 Texas Tech & No. 6 Mississippi State ELIMINATED

Second Round
No. 1 Florida vs No. 4 Texas A&M

Winner: No. 1 Florida

Why: In their fifth meeting of the year, Florida will avenge their SEC Championship loss and defeat the Aggies for the fourth time this season.

No. 3 Miami vs No. 7 Clemson

Winner: No. 7 Clemson

Why: As was the case with Louisville, Miami swept Clemson down in Coral Gables. In Omaha, however, the story will be written differently. Clemson will continue to play superb baseball and send the 'Canes to the loser bracket.

Second Round Elimination Games
No. 4 Texas A&M vs No. 8 LSU

Winner: No. 4 Texas A&M

Why: The Aggies took two of three games from the Tigers in College Station, but will land their biggest victory in this elimination game. Finally, the rally possum will be dead and will never see the light of day ever again!

No. 2 Louisville vs No. 3 Miami

Winner: No. 3 Miami

Why: Like TAMU, the Hurricanes took two of three from the Cards at home. In the same fashion, Miami will deliver a knockout blow in the CWS and win a dogfight against the team that beat them out by one game for an ACC regular season championship.

End Result: No. 2 Louisville & No. 8 LSU ELIMINATED

CWS Semifinals
No. 1 Florida vs No. 4 Texas A&M

Winner: No. 1 Florida

Why: Meeting Texas A&M again with a finals berth on the line, Florida might have to play a winner-take-all game to advance to the National Championship. Still, with Logan Shore, A.J. Puk, or Alex Faedo figuring into the mix, the Gators will stymie that explosive Aggie offense and advance to their third CWS Finals in program history.

No. 3 Miami vs No. 7 Clemson

Winner: #7 Clemson

Why: Needing to beat Clemson twice to earn a possible shot at playing their in-state rival for a National Championship, Miami will hit the wall and fall to Clemson in a winner-take-all game.

CWS Finals
No. 1 Florida vs No. 7 Clemson

Winner: No. 1 Florida

Why: So here we are. In the National Championship matchup between the pre-season favorites and the team that many thought was undeserving of a national seed, the Florida Gators will triumph in two games! Finally, after 101 seasons, my Florida Gators will have the first baseball National Championship in school history!

National Champion:
Florida Gators!

Final Takeaway:
Well there you have it, folks! The Florida Gators will finally win a National Championship after coming up short in so many of the past seasons! Now of course, these predictions are just my personal thoughts and have no bearings on what could actually happen (as seemed to be the case with Florida softball losing in super regionals).

Honestly, predictions in baseball are way harder because the sport is much more uncertain than softball is. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. It's just the way baseball is. Whether I get all, some, or none of my predictions right, I am looking forward to the 2016 NCAA D-1 Baseball Tournament. There are many great teams and players participating who are all looking to etch their names in the annuls of college baseball lore.

Will we have another instance like Fresno State in 2008 where a no-name team comes out of the field and wins a National Championship? Will Florida finally live up to the hype and bring home the hardware that many in Gainesville and the national media are expecting? Will Virginia prove me wrong and defend their title?

All of these questions and more will be answered by the end of June. All we have to do now is sit back, relax, and enjoy some incredible college baseball!

One final thing: Go Gators!

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