The 2023 Men’s College World Series (MCWS) field is locked and loaded. Eight teams have punched their tickets and games will get underway this weekend. Here’s a look at the top teams and players vying for their chance to summit College Baseball’s tallest mountain, with a prediction on who will make it all the way to the top.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Tipico odds to win CWS: +240) are the favorite to win it all. They tied the NCAA tournament record with nine home runs in their super regional-clinching 22-5 win over Alabama, and they are the first team since LSU in 1997 to have won four tournament games by double digits. They come into the MCWS as the top ranked team in the nation and are the first national number one seed to reach the MCWS since 2018.
Projected first-round pick Brock Wilken launched 30 bombs over the fence this season, which gave him the ACC record for career home runs with 70. Rhett Lowder is one of the highest-ranked pitching prospects ahead of this summer’s MLB Draft, and he headlines a pitching staff that leads the nation with a season ERA of 2.84. The Deacs haven’t gotten this far since its 1955 team won the national championship, and their 68-year wait to return to the CWS is the longest for any team with more than one appearance in Omaha. They have the lineup to make this trip worth the wait.
The Stanford Cardinal (+1000) will take on top-seeded Wake Forest on Saturday in their third consecutive appearance in the MCWS. They got here on the benefit of a misplayed pop fly with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in their super regional game against Texas, and they’ll need some more magic from their stars Alberto Rios and Tommy Troy to help them advance past the Demon Deacons.
The LSU Tigers (+350) enter the field as the fifth ranked team in the country and have the consensus top two prospects for the 2023 MLB draft in Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes, headlining what many consider to be the most talented roster in college baseball. An American League executive even called Crews “Baby Trout,” comparing the young slugger to Angels superstar Mike Trout. Meanwhile, Skenes is arguably the best pitching prospect available in the draft since Gerrit Cole in 2011. The Tigers also have a bevy of other prospects that are poised to make big money playing in the majors after their tenures in Baton Rouge, so they’ll be a formidable foe for any opponent in this bracket — only Wake Forest has shorter odds.
The Tigers will take on an SEC counterpart in the Tennessee Volunteers (+800) in their opening game. The Vols are just a year removed from an upset loss as the nation’s top ranked team in the super regionals, so they’ll be out for vengeance this year. They’ll need strong pitching from Chase Dollander if they’re going to mount a meaningful run, and they will also have to shake their road game demons —they were 5-14 in true road games and neutral site games combined this season.
The Florida Gators (+400) enter the bracket as the nation’s second-ranked team. Gators outfielder Wyatt Langford could be third off the draft board after Crews and Skenes, and he is batting .373 with 17 homers and 24 doubles in this campaign. Two-way sensation Jac Caglianone leads the nation with 31 homers, but also holds down the third spot in the Gators’ rotation. Overall, the lineup features six batters with an OPS over .900, so this team could make some noise in pursuit of its first national title since 2017.
The Gators will have to play Virginia (+600) to open things up, and the Cavaliers are coming in hot. They lead the nation with a team batting average of .335, and are led by Kyle Teel, who is one of six players hitting at least .300 across a minimum of 100 at-bats. The Cavs have lost just two games since April 30. One of those losses was in the opening game of their super regional series showdown with Duke, and they rallied to outscore their ACC rival by a combined score of 26-6 in the next two contests.
Rounding out the bracket with Florida and Virginia is the Oral Roberts vs TCU matchup. The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (+3000) are the Cinderella story in this field, coming in as the lowest seed to make it to Omaha since Stony Brook in 2012. They are in the field for the first time since 1978, which is the team’s only other CWS appearance. The Golden Eagles are no joke, though. They’ve won 23 of their past 24 games. Jonah Cox enters the MCWS on a 47-game hitting streak, tied for third-longest in Division I history. If they have a lead late in the game, closer Cade Denton is tied for the national lead with 15 saves.
TCU (+850) goes to Omaha with its own 11-game win streak, the nation’s longest, and with wins in 19 of their last 21 matchups. The Horned Frogs are averaging 10.8 runs per game in the tournament so far and are hot at the right time after going just 13-11 in Big 12 play. But can either of these teams knock off the big dogs in their bracket?
I don’t think so. I like Florida to come out of this side to face LSU for all the marbles. These teams didn’t face each other in the SEC regular season. The Tigers entered the season ranked as the top team in the land. Both clubs lost 15 games and are evenly matched. LSU just seems to have that spark right now, though. Florida had to slug it out with South Carolina in the super regionals, while LSU blasted Kentucky out of the bracket by a combined score of 22-3 through two games.
I’m going with LSU’s firepower and the Crews-Skenes superstar combo to bring home the title for the Tigers.
My Prediction: LSU (+350)
Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
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