Sixteen college baseball analysts who will work on ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship picked the eight teams they believe will survive the Regionals (May 29 to June 1) and Super Regionals (June 5-8) to advance to the College World Series (June 13-24) in Omaha, Neb.
Overall, the 16 analysts predicted 25 different teams to reach the College World Series, led by LSU and UCLA each garnering picks from 15 of the analysts and Florida and Vanderbilt being selected by 14.
The 16 analysts include: Nick Belmonte, Chris Burke, Wes Clements, Rusty Ensor, Randy Flores, Gabe Gross, Ben McDonald, Keith Moreland, Eduardo Perez, Dave Perno, Kyle Peterson, Jay Powell, Landon Powell, Mike Rooney, Greg Swindell and Jay Walker. Highlights:
- All eight of the national top seeds were picked by at least two analysts to reach Omaha – UCLA (15 picks), LSU (15), Louisville (10), Florida (14), Miami (7), Illinois (2), TCU (9) and Missouri State (2) – and the remaining eight host sites were predicted to advance at least once – Vanderbilt (14), Texas A&M (5), Oklahoma State (3), Cal State Fullerton (1), Dallas Baptist (1), Florida State (1), Houston (1) and UC Santa Barbara (1).
- Defending national champion Vanderbilt received the most picks – 14 of the 16 – of any team outside the top eight national seeds.
- Seven of the two-seeds (Arizona State, Arkansas, College of Charleston, East Carolina, Iowa, NC State and Oregon State) and two of the three-seeds (Clemson and Oregon) were picked to advance.
- Eight of the 25 teams were predicted to reach the College World Series by only one analyst: Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, College of Charleston, Dallas Baptist, East Carolina, Florida State, Houston and UC Santa Barbara.
ESPN Analysts College World Series Picks
|Team||Nick Belmonte||Chris Burke||Wes Clements||Rusty Ensor||Randy Flores||Gabe Gross||Ben McDonald||Keith Moreland|
|Cal State Fullerton||X|
|UC Santa Barbara||X|
|Team||Eduardo Perez||Dave Perno||Kyle Peterson||Jay Powell||Landon Powell||Mike Rooney||Greg Swindell||Jay Walker|
|College of Charleston||X|
ESPN will provide exclusive coverage of the entire NCAA Division I Baseball Championship for the third straight season beginning with the Regionals (up to 112 games) from Friday, May 29, to Monday, June 1 followed by the Super Regional (up to 24 games from June 5-8) and the entire College World Series (up to 17 games from June 13-24). A full schedule: http://es.pn/1cjveMr
In addition to predictions, the analysts provided their thoughts on several subjects heading into the Regionals:
Kyle Peterson: “Clemson and San Diego State”
Randy Flores: “Ultra dark horse would be USC sweeping TCU”
Gabe Gross: “College of Charleston. If their bats get really hot, it would not surprise me to see them in Omaha. They can really swing it.”
Jay Walker: “Houston. They have a great three-man starting rotation.”
On North Florida being left out:
Dave Perno: “North Florida has two All Americans on the team, won 18 of their last 20 games and only had 16 losses, 11 of which were by one run. They also won their regular season conference championship and lost by one run in tourney championship. The state of Florida has many teams in the tourney, but the committee left one out that very much deserved to be in.”
On SEC teams:
Ben McDonald: “It’s the best baseball conference in the country. Their big four have been solid and each have enough to win it.”
Randy Flores: “LSU is too good a team, and too hard to beat at home, to NOT make it to Omaha.”
Mike Rooney: “Vanderbilt has three projected first-round picks on their team with Dansby Swanson, Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler.”
Chris Burke: “Florida is my favorite to win it all. If AJ Puk plays anywhere close to how he did in the SEC tourney throughout the postseason, they will win it all.”
Chris Burke: Illinois can really pitch! It’s tough to pick against Vandy, but going on the road to beat Illinois will be tough.”
On Missouri State:
Jay Walker: “Missouri State is real good. They have two great starters and will be hard to get out of winners bracket.”
Wes Clements: “Louisville is very interesting. They have a lot of pitching and speed, but what I love about their pitching is the bullpen – and in my opinion, no team is going to make it to Omaha without a great bullpen. I also love that two of their best in their pen are left-handed. If they catch the ball, which they have not done well this year, they could win it all.”
Chris Burke: “Upset special! They have played well down the stretch and have a good backend of the bullpen. They can win playing small ball – which they will need to beat Missouri State.”
On the most open sites:
Jay Powell: “Oklahoma State and Missouri State sites are wide open. I can see St. John’s, Arkansas, Oregon, Oklahoma state, Missouri State and even Oral Roberts advancing to the College World Series. There doesn’t seem to be a real dominate team in them.”