Super Regionals are this weekend. More of us should be tuning in than will be and I think that’s because we don’t know what we’re watching. We don’t know what to be looking for. Essentially, we don’t know how to enjoy college baseball.
Taking a look at our relationship with college basketball helps to illustrate my point. Many people’s biggest beef with March Madness is that no one really knows who most of the teams are because we don’t watch the regular season. Well, baseball has many more games and much less, almost no coverage on ESPN for you to stumble upon.
Generally speaking, we have zero idea what’s going on in the college baseball world until mid-June. Then, all of a sudden, we’re supposed to care deeply about the eight teams that have made it to the College World Series?
Which is hosted in Omaha, Nebraska, by the way. Not that it’s not a nice place. I’ve never been there myself actually, but I have heard nice things. It’s just not what you’d exactly call a vacation destination. That fact, however driven by perception it may be, exists all the same and does the CWS no favors with potential casual fans.
How It Works
So what exactly are we watching? How does this tournament work? Here’s a look:
Regionals are the first round, which happened last week. 64 teams are broken into 16 groups of four. Those groups play a double elimination tournament until one team is left standing in each region.
That brings us to where we are now, the super regionals. 16 teams remain. They’re broken up into eight pairs and now it’s a best of three series, starting this Friday. Win twice and you’ve made it to Omaha and the College World Series.
Once there, the eight teams play another double elimination tournament until two are left. Those two then play a best of three championship series.
Who We’re Watching
Oregon State is the prohibitive favorite, carrying with it an astounding 52-4 record this season. Vanderbilt is the unlucky team that will face the Beavers. The Commodores beat #21 Clemson twice at its own field to win the regional last week. OSU’s lefty Luke Heimlich has a chance at being selected in the first round of this summer’s MLB draft.
The only team hosting a super regional that did not host a regional is Texas A&M. To earn that distinction, the Aggies triumphed over that Baptist School in Waco, Texas, Iowa, and the host, Houston. College Station will host because Davidson took down the number two team in the nation, North Carolina, twice last week to get here. If you’re looking for a Cinderella, you’ve find her. It’s Davidson.
#9 Long Beach State and #20 Cal State Fullerton square off to determine which school will represent the state of California in Omaha. Fullerton beat their host #8 Stanford twice to advance from regionals. The team affectionately known as the Dirtbags holds a 5-1 record in two series against Fullerton this season.
Louisville hosts Kentucky in an even bigger rivalry matchup. With #7 and #11 in the latest D1Baseball.com Top 25, this is the most intriguing series, on paper, heading into the weekend. The Cards and the Cats split a pair of separate meetings during the regular season. Louisville lefty Brendan McKay is the consensus #2 draft prospect.
Sam Houston State took the long route to the super regionals, having played five games in the previous round. With their backs against the wall, the Bearkats won three straight games in two days, including two over host Texas Tech, to earn this spot. Their reward is a shot at #16 Florida State, which rebounded from losing the first game in its regional last week.
#6 TCU really had no trouble sweeping through its regional. The Horned Frogs will play host to the #22 Bears of Missouri State, who snuck by Arkansas, winning two of three one-run games between the two sides last weekend. Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger has scouts excited about his future.
It’s an SEC affair with #17 Mississippi State traveling to #3 LSU. The Tigers won their three games by a combined 18 runs, while the Bulldogs beat their in-state rival, #10 Southern Miss, twice on Monday to advance. LSU’s Alex Lange is another top prospect to look out for.
If you pay attention to such things, you’ll notice that six of the 16 teams left are members of the SEC. It must mean more down there or something. That sixth SEC representative is Florida. The #4 Gators welcome in #14 Wake Forest. Florida’s 6’5” pitcher Alex Faedo has been getting a lot of mention as a potential top ten pick.
So, there’s a bit of info that will hopefully spark your interest and get you to check some of these games out. The best part is there are games on all weekend long. With start times of noon, three, six, and nine, you’ll have at least one game to watch basically all day long for three days straight. Saturday is even better, with two games in each of those four time slots. And if any of these series are tied after two games, we get even more games on Sunday and Monday.
Join me in flipping on the ESPNs this weekend as we get ready for the College World Series. Doing so will help us all with our apparent fear of college baseball.