2023 Men's College World Series preview
⚾ The details
The NCAA Division I baseball tournament started in 1947, and the MCWS has become one of college sports’ toughest championships to win in recent years. Case in point: The No. 1 overall seed has taken the trophy only once since the tourney’s 64-team expansion in 1999.
- This year, the eight remaining MCWS contenders left 56 teams in the dust as they battled through regional double-elimination brackets and best-of-three Super Regional series. And now, they have to do it again.
Over the next 11 days, squads will be divided into two four-team, double-elimination brackets. Then, the two survivors will go head-to-head in next weekend’s best-of-three championship series beginning Saturday, June 24th. Incoming: eternal baseball glory.
💪 The favorites
No. 1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons: The Deacs’ numbers are unmatched: They’re undefeated in the NCAA tournament, outscoring their opponents 75–16 (!!!) over their last five games. And after blasting Super Regional foe No. 16 Alabama 22–5 last Sunday, it’s not hard to imagine them running the table to a picture-perfect tourney.
- That said, Wake’s not just battling through the bracket — they’re also fighting the aforementioned trend of No. 1 seeds falling short. Can they break a 24-year curse? Well, they’ve already crushed a 68-year one…
No. 2 Florida Gators: Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan led Florida to the 2017 title, but now he returns to Omaha with ace Hurston Waldrep leading his bullpen and superstar outfielder Wyatt Langford tearing it up at the plate. The Gators stumbled early in the postseason, but they’ve only gained momentum since.
- As the regular-season co-champs of (arguably) the toughest conference, they’re a serious threat to bring a second natty back to the Swamp.
No. 5 LSU Tigers: The Tigers were the country’s top-ranked team for almost the entire regular season, and, despite a May slide, many think they’re underseeded. With top 2023 MLB projected draftees like the nation’s best batter, generational talent Dylan Crews, and best pitcher, Paul Skenes, on their roster, LSU is freaking stacked.
TCU Horned Frogs: Considering their moderate regular-season success, it’s hard to believe just how hot the Frogs are these days. They’re riding into Omaha on an 11-game win streak stretching all the way back to the Big 12 championship, and they’ve done it with some huge victory margins. The glow-up of all glow-ups.
- Unseeded? Doesn’t matter — these Frogs have mercilessly plowed through everyone in their path, including two seeded squads. TCU‘s gas pedal is on the floor, and unlike Jimmy Butler in a race car, they’re not afraid of anything.
🙌 The underdogs
No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers: UVA took their narrow Game 1 Super Regional loss to Duke personally, demolishing their ACC rivals in the next two games to punch their MCWS ticket. This is their sixth appearance since 2009, but they have only their 2015 natty to show for it…for now.
No. 8 Stanford Cardinal: This team just finds a way. Stanford came alarmingly close to elimination in regionals and Super Regionals, but their survivor mentality, star pitcher Quinn Matthews, and killer selfie game came through in the clutch. Count out the Cardinal at your own risk.
Tennessee Volunteers: The Vols’ season went through peaks and valleys (er, hollers?), but they caught fire at just the right time. After eliminating No. 4 Clemson in a 14-inning, 6–5 regional instant classic, they fought back from a Game 1 Super Regional loss to stiff-arm Southern Miss in the race to Omaha. Ready to Rock(y Top).
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles: This Cinderella squad weathered an ultra-competitive Super Regional against host Oregon to advance to the MCWS for the first time since 1978. With 23 wins in their last 24 games, these Eagles are more than ready to shock the baseball world, especially if reliever Cade Denton is at his best and the Twin Snakes are stocked.
📺 How to tune in
There’s a staggering amount of baseball ahead, but don’t cancel your brunch plans just yet — there are only two games each day, and they’re easily accessible on either ESPN or ESPN2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The party starts with today’s unseeded battle between Oral Roberts and TCU at 2 p.m. ET, followed by No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Virginia at 7 p.m. ET. And while tomorrow’s diamond action begins with No. 1 Wake Forest vs. No. 8 Stanford at 2 p.m. ET, all eyes will be on the 7 p.m. ET all–SEC matchup between No. 5 LSU and Tennessee. Play so, so much ball!