In part one of the Regional Preview, I broke down the left side of the bracket. In part two we are going to look at the left side of the bracket. Just like in part one, I will break down the seeding, pick a sleeper team, give one player to watch in the Regional, and make my pick as to who is moving on to the second weekend for the Super Regional round and play for a spot in Omaha at the College World Series.
1 Seed: Texas Longhorns(Host)
2 Seed: Arizona State Sun Devils
3 Seed: Fairfield Stags
4 Seed: Southern Jaguars
Sleeper Team: Arizona State
I would love to pick Fairfield for this sleeper team, the Stags have a lot of Capital Region talent on that team but the team that could make a run in this regional is ASU. A battle tested Pac-12 team, played a great non-conference schedule this year, if anyone is taking a shot at the Longhorns it’s Arizona State.
Player to watch for: Ty Madden, Texas
The redshirt sophomore from Cypress, Texas has made a name for himself this year as the Friday night guy for the number 2 overall seeded Longhorns. In 14 starts this season, Madden has accumulated a 9-3 record, a 2.66 ERA, with 103 strikeouts.
Kniffy’s Pick: Texas
Texas is another national powerhouse looking to return to glory. It’s been a while since the Longhorns have held a National Championship trophy in Omaha. This team is certainly built to do so. It starts in Austin this weekend and the Longhorns will sweep this weekend and have an opportunity to host the Super Regional next weekend.
1 Seed:Florida Gators(Host)
2 Seed: Miami (FL) Hurricanes
3 Seed: South Florida Bulls
4 Seed: South Alabama Jaguars
Sleeper Team: South Florida
This is a team that was on no one’s radar this year. Picked to finish in the bottom half of the AAC and end up winning the conference tournament last weekend. USF has 3 guys who are legit draft prospects in the upcoming MLB Draft this year. Look for USF to maybe turn some heads this weekend in Gainesville.
Player to watch for: Jude Fabian, Florida
The 6 foot, 2 inch sophomore from Ocala, Florida had a great year at the dish. Hitting .258 with 20 home runs and 46 RBIs in 56 games this year for the Gators. In their new ballpark, look for Fabian to lead the Gators back to their glory days.
Kniffy’s Pick: Florida
This Regional is loaded with National power in Florida and Miami. I am very tempted to take Miami in this Regional but I’ll give the edge to Florida based on their strength of schedule. The ACC and the SEC just don’t compare. Florida is ready to go and will be forced to a game 7 by Miami but ultimately the Gators will be moving onto the Super Regional round where they’ll face Texas.
SOUTH BEND REGIONAL
1 Seed:Notre Dame Fighting Irish(Host)
2 Seed: UConn Huskies
3 Seed: Michigan Wolverines
4 Seed: Central Michigan Chippewas
Sleeper Team: Michigan
The 2019 Wolverines lost in the CWS Finals to Vanderbilt, after last year’s season was a wash, the Wolverines are still the defending National Runner-Up. The Wolverines are used to being the underdog as they had to go to #1 National Seed UCLA for the Super Regional round before their run to the Finals. Don’t count out the Wolverines this weekend.
Player to watch for: Kyler Fedko, UConn
The 210 pound sophomore from Pennsylvania led the Huskies to the BIG EAST regular season and conference tournament title along with a 2 seed in the South Bend Regional. He hit an outstanding .411 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. UConn struggled on the road this year going 1 game below .500 (13-14) so the Huskies will need every bit of Fedko if they want a chance to move on.
Kniffy’s Pick: Michigan
In my first true upset pick of the tournament, I’m taking Big Blue. As the 3 seed, this Regional is quite soft so this seems like the most likely Regional to have a lower seed crack through. Plus with their track record of succeeding as the underdog, I’m riding the wave. Go Blue.
1 Seed: Mississippi State Bulldogs(Host)
2 Seed: Virginia Commonwealth Rams
3 Seed: Campbell Fighting Camels
4 Seed: Samford Bulldogs
Sleeper Team: Campbell
The Fighting Camels are always a tough out, they play in the Big South which is a very underrated conference in baseball. This is a loaded Regional, one that I could see any of the 4 teams moving on, yes that includes Samford. Out of the 3 lower seeds, Campbell is the team I am more comfortable picking.
Player to watch for: Landon Sims, Mississippi State
The sophomore reliever was absolutely electric this year. In 37.1 innings this year he posted a 1.45 ERA with 74 strikeouts, that’s 1.99 K/Inning. That’s high level talent from a sophomore. He can run his fastball into the high 90s with a wipe out slider to boot. If Sims takes the mound, do not change the channel.
Kniffy’s Pick: Mississippi State
I know I sound like a broken record, but it is so hard to pick against the SEC, ever. The Dude is one of the best atmospheres in college baseball and it will be rocking this weekend. Like I said earlier 1-4 in this regional could come out on top but the most likely to move on are the Bulldogs.
FORT WORTH REGIONAL
1 Seed:Texas Christian Horned Frogs(Host)
2 Seed: Oregon State Beavers
3 Seed: Dallas Baptist Patriots
4 Seed: McNeese State Cowboys
Sleeper Team: Dallas Baptist
DBU is one of 6 teams in the country that have made the NCAAs in each of the last 7 years. They really are the mold of consistency in the country so if there’s one team I wouldn’t want to play it’s DBU.
Player to watch for: Kevin Abel
If you are a college baseball fan, you have probably heard of Kevin Abel. Abel was the freshman that threw a complete game in game 3 of the 2018 CWS Finals against Arkansas. He has had a down year this year compared to his freshman year when he was voted National Freshman of the Year. This year he is 3-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 79.1 innings. Down year or not, he is someone you will want to watch pitch for the Beavers.
Kniffy’s Pick: Oregon State
I am backing the Beavers in this Regional. With a national championship and a 56-4 season under their belt in the last 5 seasons, the Beavers are nothing to turn your back on. Watch for Oregon State to be moving onto the second weekend.
1 Seed: Old Dominion Monarchs
2 Seed: South Carolina Gamecocks (Host)
3 Seed: Virginia Cavaliers
4 Seed: Jacksonville Dolphins
Sleeper Team: Virginia
Virginia is looking to return to the CWS after having a string of appearances during the 2010s. The Wahoos are always solid and bring in solid recruits every year. They are also in the tournament year in and year out so having postseason success against a team like Old Dominion could prove to be the deciding factor.
Player to watch for: Kyle Battle, Old Dominion
The senior had a fantastic season for the Monarchs this year slashing .326/.467/.710 with a 1.177 OPS. He cranked 18 home runs, drove in 59 runs, and also drew 52 walks. If ODU wants to move in, Battle has to make a big impact this weekend.
Kniffy’s Pick: South Carolina
ODU having to play on the road at South Carolina as the one seed is a bit unlucky. If I were ODU I’d be a little upset that I wasn’t hosting this weekend. If ODU hosts this tournament, they win it in front of their home crowd but with the home-field advantage I’m taking the Gamecocks.
1 Seed: Oregon Ducks (Host)
2 Seed: Gonzaga Bulldogs
3 Seed: Louisiana State Tigers
4 Seed: Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
Sleeper Team: Gonzaga
With national powerhouses Oregon and LSU in the regional, there’s a new dog out there (pun intended). Gonzaga was worthy of a 1 seed and hosting a regional this year. Look for the Dawgs to play spoiler to Oregon and LSU in Eugene.
Player to watch for: Alek Jacob, Gonzaga
The junior RHP from Spokane, Washington is pitching for his hometown team. He has a phenomenal year going 7-1 with a 2.82 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He punched out 103 in 76.2 innings this season. Look for him to get the game 1 start Friday against LSU.
Kniffy’s Pick: Gonzaga
The Zags are here to play spoiler, Oregon and LSU are probably going to overlook the Zags in this regional. Look for the Dawgs to play with a chip on their shoulder since they were snubbed out of a regional in Spokane.
1 Seed:Tennessee Volunteers (Host)
2 Seed: Duke Blue Devils
3 Seed: Liberty Flames
4 Seed: Wright State Huskies
Sleeper Team: Wright State
The number one offense in the country, the Huskies can flat out rake. Tennessee is the number 3 overall seed in the tournament and it will take a near perfect performance to upset the Vols. But if Wright State can outslug the Vols, then an upset is likely.
Player to watch for: Trevor Delaite, Liberty
The senior LHP from Bangor, Maine has been the true definition of an ace for Liberty this year. He is 11-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 100 innings this season. He’s going to have a tough matchup with the ACC Champs in Duke on Friday in game 1.
Kniffy’s Pick: Tennessee
The Vols are just too good, even though this regional is loaded with talent the Volunteers are a very well-rounded team. The Vols can pitch, swing it, and play great defense. This is a team poised for Omaha.