Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017 College World Series Predictions

It is perhaps my favorite time of the year again! This past Memorial Day, the field of 64 was set for this year's NCAA D1 Baseball Tournament! What makes the college baseball postseason so special is its unpredictability.

For instance, who would have thought that Coastal Carolina (who did not even make this year's tournament) would have gone all the way to claim their first national title in school history? I can GUARANTEE you that no expert saw that coming. Only those with ties to Coastal would have made such a bold prediction.

That being said, I am excited for this year's tournament to see if maybe another dark horse will arise from their obscure position within one of the 16 regionals. Or maybe a powerhouse will retake the throne as a national seed has not won it all since 2011 (No. 4 South Carolina).

Regardless, I am ready to put my college baseball credibility on the line and predict the winners of the most unpredictable tournament in all of sports. Without further adieu, here is how I think the 2017 NCAA D1 Baseball Tournament will shape up!


Corvallis Regional
No. 1 Oregon State (49-4)
Nebraska (35-20)
Yale (32-16)
Holy Cross (23-27)

Winner: No. 1 Oregon State over Nebraska

Why: This one was not that difficult to pick. Oregon State is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and has lost just ONCE in 27 games at home. Keep in mind also that they are on a 16-game winning streak, have just FOUR losses, and dropped just one non-conference game the whole season.

Even though Nebraska won the Big 10 regular season title, they are no match for Oregon State. When these two hooked up in a Big 10/Pac-12 challenge in Arizona, Oregon State won 10-1. The Beavers should cruise through their regional.

Clemson Regional
Clemson (39-19)
Vanderbilt (33-22)
St. John's (42-11)
UNC-Greensboro (35-22)

Winner: Clemson over Vanderbilt

Why: Both Clemson and Vanderbilt finished third in their respective divisions within the ACC and SEC. With the Commodores being a tad more down than they are used to this season, Clemson has the perfect opportunity to advance to their first super regional since 2010.

The Tigers will have to go through Vandy ace Kyle Wright at some point, however, if they wish to bring the city of Clemson another national championship on the heels of their football title back in January.

Long Beach Regional
Long Beach State (37-17)
Texas (37-22)
UCLA (30-25)
San Diego State (41-19)

Winner: UCLA over Texas

Why: To the shock of many Dirtbag fans, Long Beach State will not be in their own regional final. Instead, it will be a showdown between the UCLA Bruins and Texas Longhorns. As the only team to win a series against No. 1 Oregon State, the Bruins will find a way as they only have to travel half an hour south.

Texas is a decent ball club and has a prestigious history with six national championships, but they will still need a couple more years before they are a perennial title contender again.

Stanford Regional
No. 8 Stanford (40-14)
Cal State Fullerton (34-21)
BYU (37-19)
Sacramento State (32-27)

Winner: Cal State Fullerton over No. 8 Stanford

Why: My first upset of a national seed upset in the tournament, the Cal State Fullerton Titans will rekindle their magic from two years ago and stun No. 8 Stanford in their own regional. This will be a rematch, as the Titans took two of three from the Cardinal in the season opening series in Fullerton.

The Cardinal won't go down without a fight, however, as they are the Pac-12 regular season runner-ups and home field advantage has been flipped.

Lubbock Regional
No. 5 Texas Tech (43-15)
Arizona (37-19)
Sam Houston State (40-20)
Delaware (34-21)

Winner: No. 5 Texas Tech over Arizona

Why: A College World Series participant last season, Texas Tech will begin their quest for a third trip to Omaha in four years. Although Arizona finished as the National Runner-Up in last year's tournament, it will be tough for them to return as they lost seven seniors and are 11-11 in road contests.

It does not help the Wildcats' case either that Texas Tech is the Big-12 regular season champion and has lost only five games at home all year.

Tallahassee Regional
Florida State (39-20)
UCF (40-20)
Auburn (35-24)
Tennessee Tech (40-19)

Winner: Auburn over Florida State

Why: This will be the sixth time in Auburn baseball history that the Tigers will be playing in the Tallahassee regional. Of those six prior trips, they have only won the regional once back in 1976. Twice (in 1999 and 2005) has Florida State eliminated them from the tournament.

In 2017, that all ends. As a team that swept Florida at the beginning of conference play, the Tigers will advance to just their second super regional ever. Even though Florida State is "hot" and won the ACC Tournament, they have been sporadic this season. Had they not won the ACC Tournament, I do not believe they would be hosting a regional.

I don't do this for everyone, but keep an eye on UCF. That's all I'm going to say.

Hattiesburg Regional
Southern Miss (48-14)
Mississippi State (36-24)
South Alabama (39-19)
Illinois-Chicago (39-15)

Winner: Mississippi State over Southern Miss

Why: Southern Miss is GOOD. There is no denying that as they are the Conference USA champions and obliterated their foes with just five conference losses. The only thing is that Mississippi State has one of the best players in the country in Brent Rooker.

Behind Rooker's bat, the Bulldogs will avenge their stumble in last year's tournament and advance to super regionals for the second straight year.

Baton Rouge Regional
No. 4 LSU (43-17)
Southeastern (36-20)
Rice (31-29)
Texas Southern (20-32)

Winner: No. 4 LSU over Rice

Why: Ah the Bayou Bengals. As the co-champions of the SEC and winners of the SEC Tournament, LSU will obliterate anyone who tries to oppose them at the Box. I think they go through this regional undefeated with none of the games being close.

Chapel Hill Regional
No. 2 North Carolina (47-12)
FGCU (42-18)
Michigan (42-15)
Davidson (32-24)

Winner: FGCU over No. 2 North Carolina

Why: Perhaps my boldest pick of the article, I envision some kind of scenario where Florida Gulf Coast (in their first ever tournament appearance) upsets the No. 2 national seed North Carolina. The Eagles' quality wins consist of victories over in-state opponents Florida, Florida State, and Miami.

I asked at the beginning of this article who would be the next dark horse, and maybe FGCU is ready to answer the call. It will by no means be easy though, as the Tarheels have lost just six games at home the whole season.

Houston Regional
Houston (40-19)
Baylor (34-21)
Texas A&M (36-21)
Iowa (38-20)

Winner: Texas A&M over Houston

Why: Despite getting bounced in the opening round of the SEC Tournament, the Texas A&M Aggies are a good team. With three stud freshmen in Braden Shewmake, Hunter Coleman, and Logan Foster, this Aggies team will surprise many people this postseason.

Texas A&M will not just walk all over Houston though. The Cougars won the American Athletic Championship and are currently riding a six-game winning streak. This regional will go the distance, as a winner-take-all final will determine who moves on to super regionals.

Lexington Regional
Kentucky (39-20)
Indiana (33-22)
NC State (34-23)
Ohio (31-26)

Winner: NC State over Kentucky

Why: Everyone on the SEC Network raved about how Kentucky deserved to be a national seed and gawked at their league-leading offense. Not to mention how they took home major hardware in the SEC with Sean Hjelle winning Pitcher of the Year, Zach Logue winning Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and their skipper Nick Mingione winning Coach of the Year.

Despite all the accolades, the postseason will tell a different story. A middle-of-the-pack ACC team in the NC State Wolfpack will silence all the Kentucky bandwagoners and win this regional. I do not exactly know how they are going to pull this off, but I am sure the baseball gods have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Louisville Regional
No. 7 Louisville (47-10)
Oklahoma (34-22)
Xavier (32-25)
Radford (27-30)

Winner: No. 7 Louisville over Oklahoma

Why: Louisville won the ACC regular season championship by one game with an impressive 23-6 mark against marquee competition. Prior to dropping three of four games to Florida State at the tail end of the season, the Cardinals had ripped off a 15-game winning streak from late April to mid-May. If they get hot like that again, no team in their regional will be able to stop them.

Fort Worth Regional
No. 6 TCU (42-16)
Virginia (42-14)
Dallas Baptist (30-19)
Central Connecticut State (36-20)

Winner: No 6 TCU over Virginia

Why: TCU reminds me of my Florida Gators. They have a great baseball program, but can never finish in Omaha. That aside, they will advance to a fourth consecutive super regional. Unless Virginia gets really hot and brings back the mojo that won them a title in 2015, it's safe to say that the Horned Frogs will take care of business in their regional.

Fayetteville Regional
Arkansas (42-17)
Missouri State (40-17)
Oklahoma State (30-25)
Oral Roberts (42-14)

Winner: Arkansas over Oklahoma State

Why: Arkansas was a sweep of LSU away from an SEC regular season title. In the conference tournament, they were a home run away from an SEC tournament title over LSU. The moral of the story is that Arkansas is good. I personally saw them whoop my Florida Gators 16-0 in an incredible offensive showing.

The Razorbacks will slug their way to victory behind guys like Chad Spanberger and Dominic Fletcher as they look to make a return trip to Omaha for the second time in three seasons.

Winston-Salem Regional
Wake Forest (39-18)
West Virginia (34-24)
Maryland (37-21)
UMBC (23-23)

Winner: Wake Forest over West Virginia

Why: Wake Forest had the third best record in the ACC and are hosting their first regional since 2002. The Demon Deacons should draw a good crowd and handle what I consider to be a pretty mediocre group of teams in their regional.

Gainesville Regional
No. 3 Florida (42-16)
USF (41-17)
Bethune-Cookman (33-23)
Marist (32-31)

Winner: No. 3 Florida over USF

Why: This one is not too hard for me. Blessed with a very favorable regional, the Florida Gators will basically just need to beat USF twice to advance. As long as they don't walk 17 batters like they did in their 15-10 loss to the Bulls in early May, the Gators should be fine. I do not think Florida will steamroll through their regional, but they will do enough to win it.

Super Regionals
So if all my upset-ridden regionals predictions were to somehow come true, let's see what the super regional matchups would look like. Keep in mind a team has to win two out of three games in supers to advance to the College World Series.

Corvallis Super Regional
No. 1 Oregon State vs Clemson

Winner: No. 1 Oregon State

Why: The Beavers will continue to flex their muscles as the best team in the country as they sweep their super regional. This will be their sixth College World Series appearance and at this point they will still be undefeated in postseason play. Their single-digit losses will prompt many to wonder if this may be one of the best collegiate baseball teams to ever take the field.

Fullerton Super Regional
Cal State Fullerton vs UCLA

Winner: UCLA

Why: In an unexpected super regional for Titan fans, this series will go three games. Somehow, Bruin head coach John Savage will guide his team to their fourth College World Series appearance in his tenure and sixth overall.

Lubbock Super Regional
No. 5 Texas Tech vs Auburn

Winner: No. 5 Texas Tech

Why: Auburn will hit a brick wall when they run into Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will not wipe the floor with the Tigers though, as the series will go three. It will be the postseason experience of Tech that will guide them past a predominantly young Auburn team that has not tasted success in a long time.

Baton Rouge Super Regional
No. 4 LSU vs Mississippi State

Winner: No. 4 LSU

Why: In a rematch of their final series in Starkville, LSU will again best Mississippi State. It will be in sweep-like fashion like during the regular season, as the Tigers will advance to their 18th College World Series in school history. It will be their fifth under head coach Paul Mainieri.

Fort Myers Super Regional
FGCU vs Texas A&M

Winner: FGCU

Why: Continuing to surprise the college baseball world, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles will keep their cinderella dreams alive as they defeat Texas A&M in two games at JetBlue Park. You have read that correct, I have Florida Gulf Coast going to the College World Series!

Louisville Super Regional
No. 7 Louisville vs NC State

Winner: No. 7 Louisville

Why: Having fallen in their past two super regionals at home, the Cardinals will finally right the ship and defeat NC State in three games to get back to Omaha. Louisville won the series up in Raleigh against the Wolfpack, so home field advantage should yield no different result. This will be the Cardinals' fourth ever College World Series appearance.

Fort Worth Super Regional
No. 6 TCU vs Arkansas

Winner: No. 6 TCU

Why: In my past two CWS predictions articles, I have picked against TCU in super regionals. Needless to say, I am abandoning that approach. In three games, the Horned Frogs will out-slug and out-pitch Arkansas to reach their fourth consecutive College World Series.

Gainesville Super Regional
No. 3 Florida vs Wake Forest

Winner: No. 3 Florida

Why: Finally not having to play Florida State in a super regional, the Florida Gators will have their limits tested against a decent Wake Forest team. I think the series will go three, but like last year the Gators will be dog-piling on the field as they return to Omaha for the third straight year.

College World Series
Now at the Big Dance, let's see who is going to be the National Champion for 2017! Like regionals and supers, two losses in the College World Series means elimination. Let's proceed.

College World Series First Round
No. 1 Oregon State vs UCLA

Winner: UCLA

Why: The only team to figure out the enigma that is Oregon State, UCLA will down their Pac-12 foe for the third time this season on one of the biggest stages of college baseball.

No. 4 LSU vs No. 5 Texas Tech

Winner: No. 4 LSU

Why: Back in Omaha after a year hiatus, the Tigers will make the most of their reunion as they edge out Texas Tech to enter the winner's bracket.

No. 7 Louisville vs FGCU

Winner: No. 7 Louisville

Why: FGCU's magic runs out against juggernaut Louisville. The Cardinals will beat up on the Eagles for just their second-ever win in the College World Series.

No. 3 Florida vs No. 6 TCU

Winner: No. 6 TCU

Why: As has been a custom in recent years, the Gator bats will go cold in Omaha. In a low-scoring affair, the Horned Frogs will oust the Gators to send them to the loser's bracket.

Elimination Games
No. 1 Oregon State vs No. 5 Texas Tech

Winner: No. 1 Oregon State

Why: They are the best team in the country for a reason. Oregon State will survive the Red Raiders to keep their season alive.

No. 3 Florida vs FGCU

Winner: No. 3 Florida

Why: Though losing both games to FGCU in the regular season, Florida will win the matchup that matters. This will end what will have been a terrific postseason for the Eagles.

End Result: No. 5 Texas Tech & FGCU ELIMINATED

Second Round
No. 4 LSU vs UCLA

Winner: No. 4 LSU

Why: The Tigers will keep rolling and win a close one against the Bruins. This will actually be revenge of sorts for LSU as UCLA defeated them in the 2013 College World Series. Interestingly enough, LSU was the No. 4 national seed when that upset occurred.

No. 6 TCU vs No. 7 Louisville

Winner: No. 6 TCU

Why: In this highly anticipated matchup, it will be experience that carries the Horned Frogs to victory. They have more CWS wins in their last two trips than Louisville has total, which means TCU is completely comfortable in high-pressure moments. I think they soundly beat the Cardinals to yet again advance to the semifinals.

Elimination Games
No. 1 Oregon State vs UCLA

Winner: No. 1 Oregon State

Why: With their backs still very much up against the wall, the Beavers will finally down the Bruins for just the second time all season. With UCLA finally dispatched for good, Oregon State will still have a ways to climb towards the title game.

No. 3 Florida vs No. 7 Louisville

Winner: No. 7 Louisville

Why: As Gator fans have come accustomed to, Florida will come up short yet again in Omaha. They will lose a close one to the Cardinals to end yet another promising season. For Louisville, this will be their first-ever appearance in the CWS semifinals.

End Result: No. 3 Florida & UCLA ELIMINATED

CWS Semifinals
No. 1 Oregon State vs No. 4 LSU

Winner: No. 4 LSU

Why: This semifinals meeting between the Beavers and Tigers will go to a winner-take-all game, but LSU will prevail. This will be their first National Championship appearance since 2009. It will be absolute heartbreak for Oregon State as the 18-year old curse of the No. 1 seed lives on.

No. 6 TCU vs No. 7 Louisville

Winner: No. 6 TCU

Why: Remembering how they lost both semifinal games of last year's CWS, TCU will finally break through and reach the first National Championship in program history.

End Result: No. 1 Oregon State & No. 7 Louisville ELIMINATED

CWS Finals
No. 4 LSU vs No. 6 TCU

Winner: No. 4 LSU

Why: The last time these two met in the College World Series was 2015. TCU won both those games by scores of 10-3 and 8-4. This time around, the Tigers will avenge the '15 squad and win the program's seventh National Championship. This series will be great and go three games with future MLB first rounder Alex Lange maybe coming out of the bullpen to close out the win.

National Champion:

LSU Tigers!

Final Takeaway
So there you have it, the No. 4 national seed LSU Tigers will win this year's National Championship! As a side note, if even half of my predictions were to come true I'd be pretty content. I can't emphasize enough how baseball is such an unpredictable sport and literally anything can happen.

I hope this year's tournament is as good as last year's, with walk offs and upsets and just all-around great baseball. I'll of course be pulling for my Gators, hoping somehow they can bring this town the National Championship we have all been thirsting for.

I can't deny either that a very small part of me will be cheering on LSU. They are going to be my home for the next four years, so it's best to slowly start the transition. Of course when it comes to them playing Florida though, all bets are off.

Either way, I am interested to see how my picks will turn out. Will a team like FGCU make a magical run? Will Oregon State dominate to a title? Will Florida finally finish? Will LSU finally prove that I can pick a baseball tournament right? Or will someone else out of left field swoop in for the title? Tune in all of June to watch the madness unfold!



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