After making their way through regionals only eight teams remain in the quest for the College World Series, and those eight teams have been separated into two brackets. These brackets will play out in a double elimination format starting Friday, with the two bracket winners meeting in the finals for a best-of-three championship series.
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Breaking down Bracket A
Bracket A consists of four teams; the Florida Gators, the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Florida (-110 to win Bracket A) is the odds-on favorite to win their bracket and the tournament. This is the Gators’ third trip to the College World Series in three years, and they are red hot this postseason with a 5-0 record while outscoring their opponents 41-14 over those five games. RF Preston Tucker has 57 career home runs including a school-record 11 in postseason play, and ace Hudson Randall is 9-2 this season with a 2.61 ERA to lead a talented pitching staff.
While this isn’t the same team, it is hard to bet against the two-time defending National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks, who are +250 to win Bracket A. The Gamecocks have won a record 21 straight NCAA tournament games and have won 26 of their last 27 in tournament play. Michael Roth (7-1, 2.50 ERA) is the team’s ace.
Like Florida, Arkansas (+275) is built on a strong pitching staff, tied with Florida with a 2.90 Team ERA for the lowest among CWS teams. While they don’t have the offense or experience of their conference rivals, great pitching makes them an upset threat.
This is the Golden Flashes’ first ever trip to the CWS. While Kent State (+600) has had an outstanding run to this point, they’ll have trouble surviving this very tough bracket.
Moving on to Bracket B
Unlike in Bracket A where Florida is the clear favorite, fans and bettors are split between two favorites in Bracket B; the Florida State Seminoles (+160 to win Bracket B) and the UCLA Bruins (+175).
Florida State has never won a national title in 20 CWS appearances, but the Seminoles are hoping to change that this year. With a solid 1-2 punch on offense in James Ramsey (.390, 13 home runs, 57 RBI) and Jayce Boyd (.389, 57 RBI) and on the pitching staff in Brandon Leibrandt (8-2, 2.58 ERA) and Mike Compton (11-2, 2.78 ERA), the Seminoles have the goods to do some major damage.
But to get that elusive first championship, the Seminoles will have to get through UCLA. With six batters hitting over .300, the Bruins’ powerful offense has led the team to outscore their opponents 33-9 in five postseason games. The Bruins have won 16 of their last 17 games, and have recent CWS success in advancing to the CWS Championship in 2010 (where they lost to South Carolina).
Arizona (+275) has plenty of offensive firepower, racking up 61 runs in five postseason games (7.5 runs per game) while batting an incredible .420 as a team. But with only one starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.10 in ace Kurt Heyer (12-2, 2.28 ERA), Arizona will need to stay red-hot at the plate to hit their way out of this bracket.
Stony Brook (+400) is just the second No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1999. They are clearly outclassed in this bracket, but they’ve had a magical run so far and will look to keep it alive.
Future odds to win the CWS available
Bracket play kicks off Friday with Stony Brook taking on UCLA and Arizona taking on Florida State, and continues Saturday with Kent State vs. Arkansas and South Carolina vs. Florida.
Heading into Friday, the odds to win the College World Series are as follows: Florida 9/4, Florida State 3/1, UCLA 5/1, Arizona 11/2, South Carolina 11/2, Stony Brook 8/1, Arkansas 9/1, and Kent State 15/1.
Armed and Ready. Bet on College World Series action this weekend at Bovada.
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