North Carolina is the No.1 seeded team in the tournament and has shown the guts in the NCAA Tourney to pull out a victory. game after game why they are the best. The Tar Heels knocked off the Gamecocks with a 5-4 win to advance to the schools tenth appearance in the CWS. With this being their tenth visit to Omaha, the school is still in search of its first title and the ACC’s first since 1955 when Wake Forest brought home the title. Ace pitcher Kent Emanuel has an ERA of 2.93 with 89 strikeouts and was drafted in the third round 74th overall by the Astros, all of these making him a key player to watch throughout the College World Series. Other key notables include Cody Stubbs averaging a team high .366 with eight homeruns and 76 RBIs, and Skye Bolt averaging .330 with 50 RBIs and six homeruns. Last Colin Moran will be the biggest factor of the hitters with his.343 batting average, team high 88 RBIs, and also team high 13 homeruns. Moran was drafted in the first round 6th overall by the Miami Marlins. UNC is set to take on rival N.C State in game one on the first day of the CWS with the winner advancing to play the winner of game two (UCLA vs. LSU).
N.C State is making its first trip to the College World Series since the 1968 season. The Wolfpack is looking to make another incredible championship run like the basketball program did in 1983. Wolfpack fans and players were ecstatic when N.C State won an incredible 17 innings 5-4 game over Rice to advance to Omaha. Resilience will have to be N.C State’s biggest advantage as they may have to fight back throughout the CWS. Notable players to watch include Trea Turner averaging .378 with seven homeruns and 41 RBIs, and Tarran Senay averaging .291 with a team high eight homeruns and also a team high 58 RBIs. Carlos Rodon has been great for the Wolfpack with an ERA of 3.19 and team high 170 strike outs as he has had an “off” year compared to his outstanding freshman season in 2012. Rondon will be a huge factor in any game he steps on the mound with his devastating curveball and 94+ MPH fastball. The Wolfpack has grown accustomed to long games including an 18 inning loss to UNC in the ACC tournament. N.C State will take on UNC in game one and the winner will advance to face the winner of the UCLA vs. LSU Match-up.
UCLA will be making its third appearance in four years at the College World Series also earning them back to back CWS trips. UCLA swept Cal. State Fullerton at their super regional to advance to the CWS for the fifth time in school history. The Bruins strive on defense and solid pitching to earn wins such as their 3-0 shutout in the final game at the super regional to advance. Junior pitching ace Adam Plutko with his 2.35 ERA and 77 strikeouts will be a factor as he is the projected starter for the Bruins in game one. Other notables include Kevin Kramer averaging .279 with 40 RBIs and three homeruns, and Pat Valaika averaging .257 with a team high 44 RBIs and also a team high five homeruns. Sophomore reliever David Berg will also be one to watch with his season ERA of .88 and 73 strikeouts to go along with his 7-0 record. UCLA will face LSU in game two on day one with the winner advancing to take on the winner of N.C State vs. UNC.
LSU is one of the hottest teams in the nation coming into the College World Series sweeping both their regional and super-regional to advance to Omaha for the 16th time. The Tigers advanced with a dominating 11-1 win over Oklahoma and also won their sixth super-regional title in ten appearances. High octane offense and shutdown defense will be LSU’s game plan throughout the College World Series and they are very capable of winning it all with the talent they have. Players to watch include NCBWA Freshmen Hitter of the Year Alex Bregman who has a team high and CWS leading .380 batting average to go along with his 52 RBIs and six homeruns, and Mason Katz averaging .366 with a team high 68 RBIs and also a team high 15 homeruns. Aaron Nola will be the pitcher to watch for LSU with an ERA of 1.68 and 117 strikeouts through his season along with a 2-hitter shutout in game one of the super-regional. LSU has a +247 run differential throughout their season. The Tigers are set to face UCLA with the winner advancing to face the winner of game one (UNC vs. N.C State).
I predict that North Carolina will eventually win bracket two and advance to the finals where they will defeat Oregon State to win their first national title in school history.