I am going to do predictions later in the week, but since I am going to be in Omaha, I am going to first do my College World Series wish list. These are not the teams I think will make it to Omaha, but rather the teams I want to see at Rosenblatt.
There are a couple of factors involved here and a few will actually clash so I will have to make a few concessions. The main factor is program prestige. Cinderella need not apply, so UConn, I am a big fan of your basketball program, but I would like to leave it at that. Also, College of Charleston, Louisville and Florida Atlantic can stay home as well. Prestige factor will overrule every other reason for making my list.
The next major factor is whether I have seen the team play before. I am always looking to add new teams to my list, so UCLA, Baylor and Rice, I have no need for you in Omaha. Southern Miss and Ole Miss, you are out as well.
A potential good rivalry game always makes for a good story in Omaha, so I will have to see if there is the potential for a historic matchup at Rosenblatt. After seeing what happened with Alabama and Auburn at the SEC Tournament, it is a shame they are slatted to meet up in a Super Regional. Had they had a potential opening round matchup they would have been a shoe in for my fantasy CWS field.
Historical significance will play a part. Is there anything that can happen that will always be remembered and I can say, I was there for that. Most of the time you can’t plan for that, like Warren Morris hitting a walk-off to beat Miami in the 1996 final (BTW, the only other team to beat Miami that postseason was Sam Houston State). Others you can plan for, like Robin Ventura extending his hitting streak to 58 games with hits in his first two.
Finally, potential to see future pro prospects will make a team intriguing. We will already know who has been drafted by the time the World Series rolls around, but right now I am looking at prospects and who has the most.
With all that in mind, here is my CWS wish list:
Tempe/Fayetteville Regional - Arizona State is pretty much a slam dunk here. They have 21 appearances and five titles and I have never seen them play before. The Sun Devils have two top pitching prospects with Seth Blair (No. 34) and Jordan Swagerty (No. 61). Arkansas is the other intriguing team there with Zack Cox who is rated the No. 6 prospect in this year’s draft and Brett Eibner who is rated No. 23.
Auburn/Atlanta Regional – There are a couple of good teams here and it makes it a tough one to pick. No one in these two regionals has a national title and I have only seen Southern Miss play before. Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech all got consideration here, but I think I am going with Clemson. They have made 11 trips to Omaha, one less than the other three combined. I have never seen them play before and outfielder Kyle Parker is a potential first round pick.
Charlottesville/Norman Regional - North Carolina has made the last four College World Series and features pitcher Matt Harvey who is a potential top 20 pick. They, however, have no national titles and didn’t even make the ACC Tournament this year. Oklahoma has been nine times and claimed two titles, the last in 1994. I’ve never seen them play and even with no real prospects, the Sooners still get the nod here.
Columbia/Myrtle Beach Regional – This is tough to pick and I think I am going to have to break my rules here. South Carolina has the most history with eight trips, but no titles. Virginia Tech has never been and NC State was only there in 1968. College of Charleston would be Cinderella here and I have no interest in them. Coastal Carolina is a national seed, but no prospects or history. I’m leaning toward South Carolina because of the history, but it is kind of a toss up with Coastal.
Austin/Fort Worth Regional – Texas, enough said. They have 33 trips to the CWS and six titles. They also have six other trips to the title game. A lineup full of pro prospects headlined by pitcher Brandon Workman (No. 19). Yes, I have seen them play before, but Rider and Arizona are the only two teams here I haven’t seen play.
Norwich/Louisville Regional – This was another fairly easy pick. Florida State has made 19 trips to the CWS, but don’t have a title. Still, they have been a staple in Omaha and I’d like to hear the War Chant ring around Rosenblatt.
Los Angeles/Fullerton Regional – Wow! Tough, tough, tough. Cal State Fullerton, LSU and Stanford have a combined 47 CWS appearances and 12 titles. I have never seen any of them play and there is lots of historical significance. A potential second round match up against Texas would be a Finals rematch for both Fullerton (1984, 2004) and LSU (2009). Stanford is just not sexy enough for me, and really has no top pro prospects for this year’s draft. LSU, being the defending champs, feels like the pick here. But the potential to see them in person is better than the chance to see Cal State Fullerton in future years. Plus Christian Colon and Gary Brown both being potential top 15 picks this year ultimately gives the Titans the nod. On a side note, throw in Minnesota’s three titles from the 50’s and 60’s and these two regionals have a combined 15 championships.
Coral Gables/Gainesville Regional – I really want to say Florida International here just to see Garrett Wittles extend his amazing hitting streak. It would be in the 60s by the time he got to Omaha and already be an NCAA record. The chances of FIU getting out of the first round are slim and even more remote they get through a Super Regional. Texas A&M could give an Aggie/Longhorn rivalry game, but the Aggies don’t really excite me. I know Cody wants to see Florida, but I have to go Miami here. Like Texas, I have seen them play before (1996 loss to Sam Houston State – Eat’em Up). But 23 appearances is second-most behind Texas and they have four titles. A top catching prospect in Yasmani Grandal helps the ’Canes cause here as well. There is also the potential for a Miami/Florida State second round pairing which helps.
That gives a loaded right side of the bracket with Texas, Florida State, Cal State Fullerton and Miami battling it out for a spot in the championship series -- can’t argue with that. There is only a combined 91 CWS appearances in that grouping.
Looking forward to see how it all plays out.