Weekend College Baseball Preview: College World Series Edition

Will the #1 Tar Heels be celebrating again? - USA TODAY Sports

It's like March Madness, the World Series, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one! Ditch commencement, stop watching the NBA Finals, fire up a grill, throw some appropriate beverages into an ice chest, and watch some fantastic baseball this weekend. And use this as a well of fun facts with which to wow your buddies, significant others, and kids.

Well, we made it. The 2013 College World Series launches into the baseball stratosphere tomorrow and you need a handy guide for following the dance. "What team is gonna win?", you might ask. I'll take my best shot and let you know. "When does who play who?", could be a query. Umm...I have included that information below. "Who should I follow that was drafted by my favorite big-league team, such that I may do my own personal scouting via my television?", may be your next question. Keep reading! I promise. All of your questions will be answered herein. PLUS LINKS!

The Teams

Who punched their tickets to Omaha? Lets take a look at each of the eight teams and how they got to the dance.

The National Seeds

#1 University of North Carolina Tar Heels (57-10; 21-7 ACC)

You could say the Tar Heels had an up and down season. If you'd like to say that, you wouldn't be totally incorrect. More to the truth, the Tar Heels were 9-6 in their final 15 games and that record allowed the national writers to bump Vandy ahead of them, although they were still playing well. Maybe it's just hard to sustain the level it takes to play 48-4 baseball.

Regardless, UNC won when it mattered. They didn't lose in the ACC Tournament. They dropped a game each in the Regional and Super Regional but won the games that counted against Florida Atlantic and South Carolina. They'll have to be consistent if they hope to prevail against THIS field.

#3 Oregon State University Beavers (50-11; 24-6 Pac 12)

I asked back in March if Cal State Fullerton was the best team in the West. Up until last weekend, I would have said yes. But a funny thing happened on the way to Omaha. The Titans got handled by UCLA and the Beavers made their presence felt over here on the Best Coast. It's no small feat to win the Pac-12, and if the conference had a tournament (C'mon man! This NEEDS to happen) it is likely that OSU would have had to battle to get through the likes of UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon.

As it stands, the Beavers were able to skate into the regionals, where they had an easy time dispatching Texas-San Antonio, UC Santa Barbara, and Texas A&M. It pays to be a national seed. In the supers, the Beavers dropped the first game against upstart Kansas State, but didn't succumb to elimination pressure and put it on the Wildcats outscoring them 16-7 in the two wins to advance.

#4 Louisiana State University Tigers (57-9; 23-7 SEC)

The Bayou Bengals are on a roll. The Tigers won the SEC Tournament, beating Vandy. They had zero problems in the regionals wiping out Louisiana Lafayette, Sam Houston, and Jackson State, although with a draw like that, I'd be worried if they'd had problems. Their Super Regional draw was a little tougher as they took on Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton of Oklahoma. Behind a first game shutout and a game two 11-1 drubbing, the Baton Rouge Bertmans danced all over the Sooners, to make it to the party.

The Tigers have been, arguably, the best and most consistent NCAA program over the last 25 years, and true to that sentiment their 2013 seniors avoided being the first class in that 25 years to not make a trip to Omaha, and now they're primed to take home another banner.

The Sleepers

University of California-Los Angeles Bruins (44-17; 21-9 Pac-12)

Me: Hey, Bruins...are you guys a sleeper?

Bruins: Nah, Man!

This is the attitude that comes from beating Stanford, San Diego State, a nationally ranked Cal-Poly team, Kris Bryant and the University of San Diego, and then Cal-State Fullerton, in succession, to march themselves into Omaha. Not only did they beat the Titans, but they beat them twice in two games, which no team had done all season, AND they beat Fullerton's Freshman Fenoms, Tom Eshelman and Justin Garza. So, in fairness to the Bruins, maybe they shouldn't be considered a sleeper.

University of Louisville Cardinals (51-12; 20-4 Big East)

Not too many teams played as well down the stretch as the Cardinals. The Cardinals finished the regular season winning 16 games in a row. Then they followed a hiccup in the Big East Tournament by sweeping the regional, beating Bowling Green, Miami, and Oklahoma State. Then came two great games against heavily favored Vanderbilt in which Louisville pitching gave up just 4 runs.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (48-18; 16-14 SEC)

Hail State, indeed. The Bulldogs bats came alive in surprising fashion against Virginia in the supers, scoring 17 runs in the two-game sweep. Getting through the regionals took an extra game against Central Arkansas (helloooo Conway!) but they played well in the SEC tournament with wins over South Carolina and Texas A&M, before falling to Vandy.

North Carolina State University Wolfpack (49-14; 19-10 ACC)

If you think the pack is jacked about their first round battle for the state of North Carolina, you'd be correct. While the #1 National Seed is the toughest draw, there shouldn't be another team as ready for the showdown as the Wolfpack. They beat Rice in two one-run games to make it to Omaha. The second game of the set being an epic 17 inning marathon, that I thought was the best game of the supers. They had no problem in the regional tournament, outscoring their opponents 14-3. NC State is 10-1 in their last 11, the one loss being to the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament in their first epic post-season battle of 2013, an 18 inning heartbreaker.

Cinderella

University of Indiana Hoosiers (48-14; 17-7 Big 10)

Long odds. Long odds. That's what you would have gotten if you'da tried to bet the Hoosiers would make it to the CWS back in February. But they're here. And they're hungry. An Indiana win would be such an upset, it would probably take until they return next year to get the sour taste out of the mouths of the rest of the field. You see, Indiana IS this good. I just figured it would be NEXT year when they show it.

One of the best offenses in college baseball, the Hoosiers are driven by a group of sophomores and freshmen. They will all be back next year. And they showed this year why that's going to be a problem for the Big 10 and the rest of college baseball. The regular season ended with two wins over Ohio State. The Hoosiers exited the Big 10 Tournament as Champions after beating Minnesota, Ohio State and Nebraska. The regionals saw Indiana prevail over Austin Peay and Valparaiso in fairly easy fashion. And then it happened. The Hoosiers went down to Tallahassee and put 21 runs on the Seminoles, in their own house, to emerge from the supers and earn the trip to Omaha.

For those of you that like to root for the underdog, those of you who enjoy finding the unpolished gem, those of you who want to call the big upset before it happens, or those of you who want to find the team that is good enough but just under the radar, THIS is YOUR team.

The Players

This will serve as a guide to the participants who were drafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft but I will also sprinkle in some fabulous freshmen and scintillating sophomores to pay attention to in advance of the 2014 and 2015 drafts.

University of North Carolina

Colin Moran, 3B, Miami Marlins, 1st round: Hit .343/.472/.555 with 13 homers and 61 walks.

Kent Emanuel, LHP, Houston Astros, 3rd round: Went 11-3, 2.93 ERA with an 89/28 K/BB in 123 innings.

Cody Stubbs, 1B, Kansas City Royals, 8th round: Hit .366/.447/.585 with eight homers and 34 walks.

Brian Holberton, C, Houston Astros, 9th round: Hit .309/.422/.504 with 11 homers and 42 walks.

Hobbs Johnson, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers, 14th round: Went 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA and a 72/49 K/BB in 79 innings.

Chaz Frank, OF, Toronto Blue Jays, 20th round: Hit .298/.380/.407 with 22 steals and 30 walks.

Landon Lassiter, IF, Freshman: Hit .361/.502/.450 with 53 walks and eight steals.

Skye Bolt, OF, Freshman: Hit .330/.429/.508 with six homers, 32 walks, and 10 steals.

Trent Thornton, RHP, Freshman: Went 11-1, 1.28 ERA with a 78/15 K/BB in 85 innings, saving eight games.

Oregon State University

Ben Wetzler, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies, 5th round: Went 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA and a 77/30 K/BB in 90 innings.

Matt Boyd, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays, 6th round: Went 10-3 with a 2.13 ERA and a 110/30 K/BB in 123 innings.

Tyler Smith, SS, Seattle Mariners, 8th round: Hit .311/.398/.403 with nine steals and 24 walks.

Daniel Hayes, 1B, Chicago White Sox, 13th round: Hit .269/.376/.423 with six homers and 34 walks.

Scott Schulz, RHP, Miami Marlins, 17th round: Saved 10 games with a 2.03 ERA and a 32/8 K/BB in 40 innings.

Daniel Child, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies, 18th round: Went 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA and a 28/16 K/BB in 38 innings.

Jake Rodriguez, C, Houston Astros, 19th round: Hit .278./.388/.367 with 33 walks.

Mike Conforto, OF, Sophomore: Hit .320/.444/.515 with 11 homers and 39 walks.

Andrew Moore, RHP, Freshman: Went 14-1 with a 1.36 ERA and a 70/26 K/BB in 119 innings.

Louisiana State University

Ryan Eades, RHP, Minnesota Twins, 2nd round: Went 8-1, 2.79 ERA with a 78/32 K/BB in 100 innings.

JaCoby Jones, UTIL, Pittsburgh Pirates, 3rd round: Hit .299/.395/.459 with 29 walks and 12 steals.

Mason Katz, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals, 4th round: Hit .366/.454/.630 with 15 homers and 37 walks.

Nick Rumbelow, RHP, New York Yankees, 7th round: 3.41 ERA with a 33/14 K/BB in 32 innings.

Will LaMarche, RHP, Detroit Tigers, 9th round: 3.42 ERA with a 25/13 K/BB in 26 innings.

Ty Ross, C, San Francisco Giants, 12th round: Hit .215/.295/.275 with 22 walks.

Chris Cotton, LHP, Houston Astros, 14th round: 1.23 ERA with a 45/3 K/BB in 44 innings, 16 saves.

Raph Rhymes, OF, Detroit Tigers, 15th round: Hit .343/.413/.461 with 28 walks.

Christian Ibarra, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirats, 32nd round: Hit .315/.421/.477 with six homers and 34 walks.

Alex Bregman, SS, Freshman (National Freshman of the Year): Hit .380/.426/.562 with 23 walks, 16 steals.

Aaron Nola, RHP, Sophomore: Went 12-0, 1.68 ERA with a 117/17 K/BB in 118 innings.

UCLA

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP, San Francisco Giants, 6th round: Went 12-4, 2.37 ERA with an 81/17 K/BB in 114 innings.

Zack Weiss, RHP, Cincinnati Reds, 6th round: Posted 2.33 ERA with a 27/12 K/BB in 39 innings.

Patrick Valaika, SS, Colorado Rockies, 9th round: Hit .257/.354/.494 with five homers, eight steals, 32 walks.

Adam Plutko, RHP, Cleveland Indians, 11th round: Went 8-3, 2.35 ERA with a 77/27 K/BB in 111 innings.

Brenton Allen, LF, Washington Nationals, 20th round: Hit .247/.339/.351 with 12 walks in 97 at-bats.

Kevin Williams, SS, Miami Marlins, 29th round: Hit .232/.323/.304 with 14 walks in 112 at-bats.

Ryan Deeter, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers, 32nd round: 4.24 ERA with a 10/12 K/BB in 17 innings.

Brian Carroll, OF, Undrafted: Hit .259/.368/.284 with 30 steals.

Kevin Kramer, INF, Sophomore: Hit .279/.387/.384 with 28 walks, nine steals.

David Berg, CL, Sophomore: Saved 21 games with a 0.88 ERA and a 73/8 K/BB in 71 innings.

James Kaprielian, RHP, Freshman: 1.67 ERA with a 50/23 K/BB in 38 innings.

Hunter Virant, LHP, Freshman: Threw 3.1 innings, walking four; unsigned 11th round pick by Astros in 2012.

University of Louisville

Dace Kime, RHP, Cleveland Indians, 3rd round: Went 6-1, 3.07 ERA with an 81/20 K/BB in 67 innings.

Jeffrey Thompson, RHP, Detroit Tigers, 3rd round: Went 11-1, 2.00 ERA with a 109/33 K/BB in 103 innings.

Ty Young, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays, 7th round: Hit .339/.424/.511 with four homers, 23 walks, 26 steals.

Coco Johnson, OF, Miami Marlins, 11th round: Hit .333/.438/.533 with eight homers, 22 steals.

Chad Green, RHP, Detroit Tigers, 11th round: Went 10-3, 2.29 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB in 102 innings.

Cody Ege, LHP, Texas Rangers, 15th round: Posted 1.19 ERA with a 46/9 K/BB in 30 innings.

Adam Engel, CF, Chicago White Sox, 19th round: Hit .234/.366/.293 with 31 walks, 41 steals.

Jeff Gardener, OF/C, Undrafted Junior: Hit .335/.413/.639 with nine homers, 17 walks.

Nick Burdi, RHP, Sophomore: Saved 16 games with 0.78 ERA and 61/12 K/BB in 35 innings.

Sutton Whiting, INF, Sophomore: hit .315/.394/.401 with 24 steals.

Mississippi State University

Hunter Renfroe, RF, San Diego Padres, 1st round: Hit .360/.445/.644 with 15 homers, 34 walks, nine steals.

Adam Frazier, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates, 6th round: Hit .359/.405/.475 with 22 walks, seven steals.

Kendall Graveman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays, 8th round: Went 7-5, 3.14 with a 65/27 K/BB in 103 innings.

Chad Girodo, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays, 9th round: Went 8-1, 1.38 ERA with a 63/16 K/BB in 46 innings.

Evan Mitchell, RHP, Cincinnati Reds, 13th round: Posted 3.74 ERA with 27/26 K/BB in 22 innings.

Daryl Norris, RHP, Detroit Tigers, 22nd round: Struck out nine in four innings of work.

Luis Pollorena, LHP, Texas Rangers, 23rd round: Posted 4.32 ERA with 59/35 K/BB in 77 innings.

Wes Rea, 1B, Sophomore: Hit .288/.387/.458 with seven homers, 24 walks.

John Marc Shelly, RHP, Freshman: Threw 7.1 shutout innings.

Jonathan Holder, RHP, Sophomore: Saved 18 with 1.31 ERA, 83/15 K/BB in 48 innings.

Ross Mitchell, LHP, Sophomore: Posted 1.35 ERA with 43/26 K/BB in 87 innings, saved two.

North Carolina State University.

John Easley, RHP, Miami, 23rd round: 1.44 ERA with 39/13 K/BB in 44 innings.

Anthony Tzamtzis, RHP, Tampa Bay, 32nd round: 5.40 ERA with 25/30 K/BB in 28 innings.

Trea Turner, INF, Sophomore: Hit .378/460/.571 with 35 walks, 27 steals.

Brett Austin, C, Sophomore: hit .258/.341/.369 with 13 steals, 34 walks. Unsigned supplemental first round pick by Padres in 2011.

Tarran Senay, 1B, Undrafted Senior: Hit .291/.374/.471 with eight homers, 58 RBI, 31 walks.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, Sophomore: 3.19 ERA with 170/42 K/BB in 118 innings.

UI

Aaron Slegers, RHP, Minnesota Twins, 5th round: Went 9-1, 2.13 ERA with 54/15 K/BB in 97 innings.

Dustin DeMuth, 3B, Minnesota Twins, 8th round: Hit .389/.443/.564 with 18 walks, 11 steals.

Ryan Halstead, RHP, Minnesota Twins, 26th round: Saved 11 games, with 2.40 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 41 innings.

Kyle Schwarber, C, Sophomore: Hit .376/.468/.674 with 18 homers, 42 walks.

Scott Donley, IF, Sophomore: Hit .361/.415/.513 with 20 walks.

Sam Travis, 1B, Sophomore: Hit .313/.415/.545 with 10 homers, 38 walks, 56 RBI.

Casey Smith, UTIL, Undrafted Junior: Hit .309/.376/.455 with 12 walks, five homers in 165 AB.

Joey DeNato, LHP, Undrafted Junior: Went 9-2, 2.76 ERA with 79/40 K/BB in 95 innings.

Kyle Hart, LHP, Sophomore: Went 8-2 with 3.01 ERA with 50/27 K/BB in 84 innings.

The Schedule

Saturday

G1: Miss. St. vs. Oregon St., 3pm ET, ESPN2

G2: Indiana vs. Louisville, 8pm ET, ESPN2

Sunday

G3: UNC vs. NC State, 3pm ET, ESPN2

G4: UCLA vs. LSU, 8pm ET, ESPN2

The Predictions

Saturday is tough to call. I think that the Beavers have the pitching to get past MSU. Oregon State

Indiana has thump, but Louisville has been rolling. I'm going to err on the side of the sleeper. Indiana

I like NC State behind Rodon in the G3 upset. It's time NC State pushes past and Rodon is the man to do it. NC State

UCLA is a nice team, but their offense is almost non-existent and preventing runs is great, but LSU can do that too, and they have the bats to give UCLA's staff fits. Nobody plays with more emotion than LSU, and they travel better than anyone. LSU

I like LSU to make it to the Championship and Oregon State has the depth to lose one and make it out of the loser's bracket. There is something about that Indiana team that I love, and if it's not OSU facing LSU, it'll be the Hoosiers.

The Podcasts

Baseball America's CWS preview

Eric Sorensen at Easton's College Baseball Today

SUPER SECRET BONUS!

-Alex Bregman and Tom Eshelman are National College Baseball Writer's Association Freshmen of the Year

-NCBWA Stopper of the Year Finalists: Tyler Rogers of Austin Peay, David Berg of UCLA, Jonathan Holder of Mississippi State, Michael Lorenzen of Cal State Fullerton, and Jimmie Sherfy of Oregon.

Winner to be announced Friday, June 15. THAT'S TODAY!

My prediction: David Berg, UCLA

-Golden Spikes Final Three: Tyler Beede, Soph, RHP, Vanderbilt; Kris Bryant, Junior, 3B, San Diego; Colin Moran, Junior, 3B, North Carolina.

Winner to be announced, July 19th. (But according to Harold Reynolds, all three guys will be in the Majors by then.)

My Prediction: Kris Bryant, San Diego

**********

Enjoy the weekend, and I'll see you in the comments!

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