July 19, 2024

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Why Tennessee and Texas A&M are favored to advance to Omaha in the 64-team College World Series

Why Tennessee and Texas A&M are favored to advance to Omaha in the 64-team College World Series

Tennessee was selected as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Baseball Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons on Monday. The Volunteers were one of 11 SEC teams to make it to 64, the most ever from a single conference.

Kentucky, which shared the SEC regular season championship with Tennessee, earned the No. 2 seed. The Wildcats, who have won 22 SEC games, a program record, are making back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in program history.

The remaining eight national seeds are Texas A&M, North Carolina, Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia and Florida State

The other eight regional hosts are Oklahoma, NC State, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Arizona, UCSB, Oregon State and East Carolina.

The 16 regionals will include four-team double-elimination tournaments, which will be played this weekend. The regional winners advance to the Super Regionals, which will be held June 7-10. The eight outstanding regional winners advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 14. The CWS Championship Series begins on June 22.

Who are the betting favourites?

According to BetMGMTennessee and Texas A&M are the favorites to win the national title at +550 and +600, respectively.

Tennessee has arguably the best offense in college baseball. The Vols lead the SEC in average (.311), home runs (147) and runs scored (553) and have five starters with an OPS over 1.000.

Texas A&M has regressed a bit — losing two of its last three SEC series and falling out twice in the league championship — but the Aggies were ranked No. 1 in the country for several weeks midway through the season. They have three players with more than 20 home runs, including Braden Montgomery, a top prospect in the 2024 MLB Draft, and Gavin Grahovac, the SEC Freshman of the Year. – a light

Folders are a choice

Perhaps four of the five most complete teams in college baseball come from the SEC – Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas A&M. I will all volunteer. They enter the postseason playing their best baseball at the right time. Tennessee won the SEC Championship and hasn’t had a losing weekend since mid-March.

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Seventh-year coach Tony Vitiello led Tennessee to the College World Series in 2021 and 2023, but Tennessee has won just one game in Omaha since 2001. Keep an eye on second baseman Christian Moore. He won the SEC Triple Crown in league play, with a .429 batting average, 20 home runs and 41 RBIs in SEC games. -Sherman

Dark Horse Championship

Florida sneaks into the field with a 28-27 record and is the No. 3 seed in the Stillwater Regional. The Gators have had their struggles this season, but this is still a very talented team capable of reaching the College World Series.

The Gators’ series wins over two No. 1 seeds (Texas A&M and Georgia) and two No. 2 seeds (Mississippi State and LSU) — part of a brutal schedule that includes series against Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Plus three midweek games against Florida State.

It’s dangerous to rely on a team that has been so inconsistent, but at their best, the Gators are very, very good. – a light

Stories worth watching

UC Santa Barbara enters the postseason with a 14-game winning streak and as Big West champion. The Gauchos are hosting a regional match for the first time on campus at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. UCSB was last as host in 2015, with games played in Lake Elsinore, California. Amid a fractured future for baseball on the West Coast with Pac-12 schools moving to the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC, UCSB sits in a position to bolster its recruiting muscle.

Coach Andrew Checketts has taken the Gauchos to the postseason four times since 2019. They advanced to Omaha in 2016. A second visit next month comes at an opportune moment for the emerging Big West beast. -Sherman

This seems in the future, but if Wake Forest wins the Greenville Regional and Tennessee holds serve at home, we’ll have a Chase Burns vs. Tennessee matchup in the Super Bowl.

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Burns started 14 games for Tennessee as a freshman in 2022 and was a key member of the Vols’ staff during last season’s loss to Omaha, but left the program after a disagreement with the coaching staff. He’s now the breakout player at Wake Forest, where he was recently named ACC Player of the Year. He is 10-1 with a 2.46 ERA and .874 WHIP, and leads the nation with 184 strikeouts.

Burns’ game against Tennessee – before a packed Lindsey Nelson Stadium – will be an amazing drama. — a light

The defending champions are back

LSU was 3-12 in the SEC in mid-April and on track to become the third straight national champion to miss the NCAA Tournament the following season. Fast forward six weeks, and the Tigers are now the No. 2 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional after finishing the season with 18 wins in their last 24 games.

This isn’t an old LSU offense, but the bats came back to life in the SEC Championship last week. The Tigers averaged 10.8 points in their four wins in Hoover, Alabama, before losing to Tennessee 4-3 in the championship game.

What makes this team dangerous going forward is the dual strike of starting pitchers Luke Holman and Gage Jump. Holman has been one of the best shooters in the SEC all season, while Gumb, who missed the 2023 season after undergoing Tommy Johnson surgery, has been impressive down the stretch. – a light

The most difficult regional

With apologies to Long Island and Wofford, it’s easy to recognize the star power of Chapel Hill Regional. This does not include the Sharks from the Northeast Conference or the Terriers from the Southern Conference. As a No. 4 national seed, North Carolina’s coaches and players couldn’t be more thrilled to see LSU on the No. 2 seed line at Boshamer Stadium. The Tigers beat Kentucky and Georgia to open SEC Tournament play. They are the defending national champions and will not back down against any opponent after bouncing back from a tough first five weeks of conference play. LSU has advanced to the CWS 19 times. North Carolina State had the better season of the two power programs after winning the ACC title by a score of 22-8. The Tar Heels made their last Big 11 appearance in Omaha in 2018. They’re raring to be back. The second round game against LSU will be a CWS caliber matchup. — Sherman

Required reading

(Photo by Dylan Lowe: Vacha Hunt/USA Today)