Monday, May 27, 2019

2019 College World Series Predictions

So here we are again. Earlier today, the NCAA selection committee reveled the 64-team field for the 2019 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. The national seeds are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 East Carolina, No. 11 Stanford, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 13 LSU, No. 14 North Carolina, No. 15 West Virginia, and No. 16 Oregon State.

This breaks down to six SEC teams, three ACC teams, three Big 12 teams, three Pac-12 teams, and one AAC team.

As I say every year, I must emphasize that baseball is HARD TO PREDICT and that I do these picks hoping for crazy upsets and great narratives all the way up through the College World Series. So without further adieu, here are the ZKS predictions for the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Baseball Tournament!


Los Angeles Regional
No. 1 UCLA (47-8)
Baylor (34-17)
Loyola Marymount (32-23)
Omaha (31-22-1)

Winner: No. 1 UCLA over Baylor

Why: I'm skeptical of a top-seeded UCLA team as they failed to make it out of their own regional when I picked them in my first College World Series predictions article back in 2015. That being said, UCLA won the Pac-12 regular season title and has won 10 games in a row. I'll reserve my skepticism for now. UCLA advances to supers.

Corvallis Regional
No. 16 Oregon State (36-18-1)
Creighton (38-11)
Michigan (41-18)
Cincinnati (30-29)

Winner: No. 16 Oregon State over Creighton

Why: The Beavers are the defending national champions, and a bumpy month of May shouldn't take away from the fact that they were a top-10 team for most of the year. Despite the fact that Creighton is on an eight-game winning streak and has won both the Big East regular season and tournament championships, I still think Oregon State prevails in a hard-fought regional final. One final stat to keep in mind is that the Beavers are 17-10 at home while the Bluejays are an impressive 21-5 on the road.

Lubbock Regional
No. 8 Texas Tech (39-17)
Dallas Baptist (41-18)
Florida (33-24)
Army (35-24)

Winner: No. 8 Texas Tech vs Dallas Baptist

Why: I love my Gators, but I am no homer. The Red Raiders of Texas Tech won the Big 12 regular season title and have been to three College World Series dating back to 2014. Even though DBU won a share of the Mountain Valley Conference regular season title and has been one of the better smaller schools in college baseball these past few seasons, they will not be able to stymie a junior-laden Tech team.

Stillwater Regional
No. 9 Oklahoma State (36-18)
UConn (36-23)
Nebraska (31-22)
Harvard (27-14)

Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State over UConn

Why: The Pokes of Oklahoma State kicked off May with a three-game sweep of Oregon State in Corvallis and rode that momentum to win the Big 12 Tournament and 11 of their last 13 games. This is a very favorable regional draw for Oklahoma State and they should have no problem advancing to super regionals.

Fayetteville Regional
No. 5 Arkansas (41-17)
California (32-18)
TCU (32-26)
Central Connecticut (30-21)

Winner: No. 5 Arkansas over TCU

Why: Arkansas came one out and one strike away from a national championship only to see it crumble right before their eyes with an epic comeback from Oregon State in the College World Series Finals last year. This year, the Razorbacks are ready to finish the job. They won a share of the SEC West with 20 conference wins and finished 28-6 at home.

In addition to their win-loss records, Arkansas's roster still has many of the players who remember that heartbreaking defeat a year ago. The motivation and talent are there and not even a historically good TCU will stop the Razorbacks from stomping through their regional.

Oxford Regional
No. 12 Ole Miss (37-25)
Illinois (36-19)
Clemson (34-24)
Jacksonville State (37-21)

Winner: No. 12 Ole Miss over Clemson

Why: Ole Miss shocked the world last year... but in a bad way. The Rebels, up two games to none in the regional final, dropped two straight to Tennessee Tech to end their season. This year, the SEC Tournament runner-up will reach their first super regional since 2014. I say that because Clemson in this regional, and as high as I am on the Tigers each postseason they continually let me down with a loss to an SEC school. That trend will not change here. Say Hotty Toddy because the Rebs will get to supers!

Athens Regional
No. 4 Georgia (44-15)
Florida Atlantic (40-19)
Florida State (36-21)
Mercer (35-27)

Winner: Florida Atlantic over No. 4 Georgia

Why: The first major shakeup of this tournament comes in the Athens Regional as the Owls stuns the Bulldogs. FAU may have went 10-5 in May, but did enough to win the Conference USA regular season championship. Some may call it Gator bias on my part with Georgia and Florida State in this regional, I call it looking at history and seeing that a No. 2 seed won the Athens regional last year as well. It's a risky pick, but that's what these articles and this tournament is all about.

Baton Rouge Regional
No. 13 LSU (37-24)
Arizona State (37-17)
Southern Miss (38-19)
Stony Brook (31-21)

Winner: No. 13 LSU over Arizona State

Why: I tuned into Tiger baseball periodically when I could and my most consistent observation is that this team is dangerous at home. For the season, LSU posted a 27-9 record at Alex Box Stadium and always seems to find a way to win games in the late innings. No matter the sport (softball or baseball), seeing Arizona State in a bracket always makes me raise an eyebrow. However, I think the aura of LSU at home will be too much to overcome ultimately.

Nashville Regional
No. 2 Vanderbilt (49-10)
Indiana State (41-16)
McNeese State (35-24)
Ohio State (35-25)

Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt over Indiana State

Why: Vanderbilt is absolutely filthy this year with SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday leading the way along with three other First Team All-SEC Commodores and SEC Coach of the Year Tim Corbin. The Commodores won both the SEC regular season and tournament titles (climbing out of a 9-1 deficit in the SEC Championship Game) and have been in the Top 5 all year. They can do it all. The lineup is loaded and the pitching is lights out. They will shred through this regional.

Morgantown Regional
No. 15 West Virginia (37-20)
Texas A&M (37-21-1)
Duke (31-25)
Fordham (38-22)

Winner: No. 15 West Virginia over Texas A&M

Why: Almost heaven West Virginia! Despite a fourth place finish in the Big 12 regular season standings and losing in the conference championship to Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers still were awarded a national seed. Texas A&M will push them to the limit, but I think West Virginia cracks their first super regional in program history!

Louisville Regional
No. 7 Louisville (43-15)
Indiana (36-21)
Illinois State (34-24)
Illinois-Chicago (29-21)

Winner: No. 7 Louisville over Indiana

Why: After a disappointing ending in the Lubbock regional last season, the Cardinals responded with a fantastic 2019 regular season. They won the ACC regular season title and posted a 27-7 mark at home. Despite an 0-2 performance in the ACC tournament, the Cards have probably the best shot of any ACC team in this tournament to make a deep run.

Greenville Regional
No. 10 East Carolina (43-15)
North Carolina State (42-17)
Campbell (35-19)
Quinnipiac (29-27)

Winner: North Carolina State over No. 10 East Carolina

Why: My second upset of regional play comes in Greenville. After failing to take care of business as a regional host last year, the Wolfpack will seize the opportunity before them. They were a Top 10 team for a majority of the season and made it to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. They finished second in the ACC Atlantic behind Louisville and are 16-6 on the road. This will be a regional that will require a winner-take-all elimination game in the final.

Starkville Regional
No. 6 Mississippi State (46-13)
Miami (39-18)
Central Michigan (46-12)
Southern (32-22)

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State over Miami

Why: I have been high on Mississippi State since they came into Gainesville and took two out of three from Florida. This program was a win away from the College World Series Finals last year and is probably the most complete team in this tournament in my opinion. SEC Pitcher of the Year Ethan Small has been a force on the mound and newcomer JT Ginn has provided a spark to an already explosive offense as SEC Freshman of the Year. 

The Bulldogs have four First Team All-SEC selections with senior and all-time SEC hits leader Jake Mangum leading the way. This is a team I am very high on and not even the rejuvenated Hurricanes of Miami will be able to stop the co-champions of the SEC West.

Stanford Regional
No. 11 Stanford (41-11)
UC-Santa Barbra (45-9)
Fresno State (38-14-1)
Sacramento State (39-23)

Winner: Fresno State over UC-Santa Barbra

Why: Stanford has not been to a super regional since 2014. In every prediction article I have written, I usually always pick against the Cardinal. That continues today with my third upset pick of the tournament. The Cardinal do not even make the regional final. Instead, we get the Bulldogs and the Gauchos.

There is so much to like about this matchup. Both teams are 18-6 on the road and both teams won their respective conferences. In a great matchup, I got Fresno State taking it over UC-Santa Barbra. The Bulldogs will advance to their first super regional since winning the whole College World Series back in 2008!

Atlanta Regional
No. 3 Georgia Tech (41-17)
Auburn (33-25)
Coastal Carolina (35-24-1)
Florida A&M (27-32)

Winner: Coastal Carolina over No. 3 Georgia Tech

Why: Coastal Carolina caught fire to win the Sun Belt Tournament and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Their conference record is a modest 15-13 and their 10-11 record on the road is troubling. However, this is the same program that pulled off a miracle run as a two seed in 2016 on route to the first national championship in school history. This regional would probably go the distance, but I think Coastal can pull off the upset against a very good Georgia Tech team.

Chapel Hill Regional
No. 14 North Carolina (42-17)
Tennessee (38-19)
Liberty (42-19)
UNC-Wilmington (32-29)

Winner: No. 14 North Carolina over Liberty

Why: The Tarheels won the ACC Championship to secure a national seed and are an impressive 33-6 at home. UNC boasts many returning players from last year's College World Series team with four seniors and 10 juniors. I usually peg the Heels for choking in regional play, but this year they take care of business no problem.

Super Regionals
So if somehow I went a perfect 16/16 on regional winners, let's check out how super regionals would shape up! Keep in mind that a team has to win two out of three games in supers to advance to the College World Series.

Los Angeles Super Regional
No. 1 UCLA vs No. 16 Oregon State

Winner: No. 16 Oregon State

Why: The Bruins and Beavers met earlier in Mid-March in Los Angeles and saw Oregon State take two out of three in the series. I have no reason to think why they could not do it again. In a three-game gauntlet, Oregon State advances back to Omaha to defend their title.

Lubbock Super Regional
No. 8 Texas Tech vs No. 9 Oklahoma State

Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

Why: The Red Raiders swept the Cowboys in Lubbock back in late-April, but this time Oklahoma State gets revenge. Like their female counterparts on the softball diamond, the Pokes find a way to pull the upset in three games.

Fayetteville Super Regional
No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 12 Ole Miss

Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

Why: Here we have an absolute primetime matchup and what would be our third rematch of teams who played each other in the regular season. In late March, the Rebels came in and took two out of three from the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. This time around, Arky will get the last laugh as they outlast Ole Miss in three games. 

Baton Rouge Super Regional
No. 13 LSU vs Florida Atlantic

Winner: No. 13 LSU

Why: Gifted a super regional with the upset in Athens, the Tigers will continue to roll at home as they stomp FAU in two to get back to Omaha after missing out last year.

Nashville Super Regional
No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 15 West Virginia

Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

Why: Vanderbilt wins in two and it won't be close.

Louisville Super Regional
No. 7 Louisville vs North Carolina State

Winner: No. 7 Louisville

Why: The fourth rematch of supers, the Cards and Wolfpack met in Louisville in mid-April when NC State was ranked No. 2 in the country. All Louisville did was sweep NC State and put up 14 runs in two of the games. With such a good track record from the regular season, I like the Cards in two.

Starkville Super Regional
No. 6 Mississippi State vs Fresno State

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: The Fresno state underdog story is great but it ends in Starkville. Miss State pounds the ball all over the yard and wins in two.

Chapel Hill Super Regional
No. 14 North Carolina vs Coastal Carolina

Winner: No. 14 North Carolina

Why: I think Coastal could push it to three, but ultimately the veteran Tarheels will prevail in three games to reach Omaha.

College World Series
We now arrive at the final eight in Omaha! Let's see who the 2019 National Champion will be! Keep in mind that two losses, similar to regionals and super regionals, will result in elimination. Let's get started!

College World Series First Round
No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 16 Oregon State

Winner: No. 16 Oregon State

Why: Our first game of the College World Series gives us another rematch for Oregon State. Remembering what the Pokes did to them in Corvallis, Oregon State gets revenge and takes their fourth meeting of the year.

No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 13 LSU

Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

Why: Arkansas took two out of three on the road against LSU and scored double digit runs in both of the victories. In Omaha, it will be a closer contest but Arky will still win by a comfortable margin.

No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 7 Louisville

Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

Why: This will be Vandy's first real test of the postseason. It'll be the closest game they have played to this point in the tournament, but the Commodores will prevail over a very talented Louisville squad.

No. 6 Mississippi State vs No. 14 North Carolina

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: After cruising into Omaha, the Bulldogs will do enough to get past a stingy Tarheel team to advance to the second round.

Elimination Games
No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 13 LSU

Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

Why: The Pokes will do enough to wade off the LSU aura that seems to travel up to Baton Rouge North with them in June. Ultimately I do not think LSU will have the pitching to survive the loser's bracket.

No. 7 Louisville vs No. 14 North Carolina

Winner: No. 7 Louisville

Why: Shockingly enough, this would be the first meeting of the year between these ACC cross-conference foes. In what turns out to be the real ACC title bout between the regular season and conference champions, the Cardinals will prevail in a squeaker.

End Result: No. 13 LSU & No. 14 North Carolina ELIMINATED

Second Round
No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 16 Oregon State

Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

Why: Oh you gotta love it. The first game of the second round will be a rematch of the 2018 Finals. Everything that has motivated and inspired the 2019 Arkansas Razorbacks will be right in front of them as they face the team that snatched their national championship from them on the same field! This time around, Arkansas gets their revenge and sends Oregon State to the loser's bracket.

No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 6 Mississippi State

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: Two of the most complete and well-rounded teams in the tournament of course would be destined to run into each other in the second round in Omaha. Their lone meeting this year came in Hoover during the SEC Tournament Semifinals and saw Vandy win 1-0. It'll be a one-run game again, but this time the Bulldogs walk away with the victory.

Second Round Elimination Games
No. 9 Oklahoma State vs No. 16 Oregon State

Winner: No. 9 Oklahoma State

Why: In their fifth meeting of the season, the Cowboys kill the dream of a repeat and send Oregon State home as they advance to their second College World Series Semifinals in four years.

No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 7 Louisville

Winner: No. 2 Vanderbilt

Why: In another hotly contested game, the Commodores again emerge victorious to reach their first College World Series Semifinals since 2015.

End Result: No. 7 Louisville & No. 16 Oregon State ELIMINATED

CWS Semifinals
No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 9 Oklahoma State

Winner: No. 5 Arkansas

Why: Arkansas remains perfect in Omaha and advances to back-to-back College World Series Finals as they need only one semifinal game to dispatch the Pokes.

No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 6 Mississippi State

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: This game will require a winner-take-all semifinal as Vandy will definitely best Miss State in the rematch. In the rubber match, the Bulldogs will out-slug the Commodores to reach their first College World  Finals since 2013.

End Result: No. 2 Vanderbilt & No. 9 Oklahoma State ELIMINATED

CWS Finals
No. 5 Arkansas vs No. 6 Mississippi State

Winner: No. 6 Mississippi State

Why: Mississippi State went into Fayetteville in mid-April and came back licking their wounds as Arkansas swept them and handedly beat the Dawgs in two of the games. Now in Omaha with the final we almost got just a year ago, the Bulldogs will turn the tables and win in three. Jake Mangum will win Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series and Ethan Small will throw a gem in the clincher. I have no doubt that this series will go the distance and be one for the ages.

Mississippi State will claim their first baseball national championship in school history, while Arkansas will again be looking up in disappointment as the confetti rains down and their opponent dogpiles on the middle of the field.

National Champion:

Mississippi State Bulldogs!

Final Takeaway
So there you have it. Mississippi State will take home the championship to give the SEC its fifth baseball national title this decade. On the flip side, Arkansas would give the conference its seventh loss in the College World Series Finals. In reality, these numbers would still apply regardless of who won.

Compared to what I have done in the past, this is definitely one of my more ambitious prediction articles as I have four regional upsets, only two of the top five seeds advancing, and an all-SEC final. However, that is the beauty of college baseball. There is so much wackiness that takes place over the course of these next few weeks that it's nearly impossible to be fully correct. In my opinion, it's even more difficult than picking March Madness.

Thank you for readership! Stay tuned as I will continue to keep putting out content over the summer break!



No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.