Welcome back to Omaha, Nebraska, fans of the 2021 College World Series.
There was no CWS event in 2020, so I’ll regard the teams that were in Omaha two years ago (Vanderbilt and Mississippi State) as holding an advantage coming into this tournament just as if they had been in Omaha last year. Recent experience in Omaha contributes greatly to success for teams that understand how to address the climate, the nuance of the ballpark and especially the many periphery distractions that have to be managed.
The ballpark his huge, cavernous and sets up for teams that hit for average, hit doubles, triples, play small ball, have strong pitching staffs and defend. A reliance on home runs is a detriment for teams in this tourney, not an advantage.
Last week, I released Vanderbilt 6-1, Texas 6-1, Virginia 22-1 and Texas Tech 13-1. Texas Tech got smashed by a strong Stanford team so while I hold advantage with the three teams involved with the tourney, I do start off with a negative 1-unit balance.
There are two brackets, so the winner in each competes in a best-of-three series to crown a champion. It’s advantageous to understand the brackets, then the schools within them in order to determine which team(s) have the best chance to win their way to the final series.
The key to this tourney is simple: Win the first two games then your team is catapulted into Friday baseball where your pitchers’ arms are fresh and your team is itching to get back onto the diamond. For teams that do not win the first two games, the path to the final series is laden with depth issues for pitchers, bullpens and team mentality are worn thin just to arrive to the final three game series.
Here’s how I view each team and its chances in this outstanding baseball tournament, along with a couple value bets.
NC State 14-1
The Wolfpack got here by upsetting the Arkansas Razorbacks, a team that had experienced a record-setting regular season and was primed after a 21-2 victory in Game 1 to arrive in Omaha to accept their coronation. The problem was that the Wolfpack, a team playing with great second-half momentum never quit, took the next two games from Arkansas and now lands in Omaha.