Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet the 2021 College World Series Final
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: The NCAA Division I Baseball championship trophy, displayed at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
- The reigning national champion Vanderbilt Commodores have again reached the College World Series Finals, this time to take on Mississippi State.
- The Commodores and Bulldogs begin a best-of-three series to crown the 2021 NCAA Baseball national champion on Monday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
- Below, college baseball betting analyst Collin Wilson delivers everything you need to know about both teams, including how to bet every game of the CWS Finals.
Two SEC schools will compete for the National Championship, but Vanderbilt and Mississippi State had differing paths to the finals in Omaha.
The Commodores were sent to the losers’ bracket ahead of schedule after a loss to NC State. Vanderbilt would need to take two from the Wolfpack, but COVID-19 rocked the hottest team in college baseball.
After following NCAA protocols, NC State was left with 13 players on the roster. Ace Sam Highfill played first base and took his first swings of the year against Vandy’s Kumar Rocker. The Commodores would fight out of the losers’ bracket with a 3-1 victory that included NC State posting just two hits in 16 tries with runners in scoring position.
NCAA Statement from Division I Baseball Committee:
The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has declared the Vanderbilt-NC State Men’s College World Series game scheduled for Saturday, June 26 at 1 p.m. Central time a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols. #CWS pic.twitter.com/amxdQwkQ6l
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 26, 2021
Despite the tournament having crowds of over 20,000 people, the Wolfpack were eliminated by the NCAA.
Vanderbilt advanced to the finals without using ace Jack Leiter. The story was different for Bracket 2 winner Mississippi State. The Bulldogs sent Texas to the losers bracket in the opener, but the Longhorns would snag revenge in a game that was delayed by COVID-19 and weather.
The rubber match between Texas and Mississippi State kept the drama going, as the teams entered the bottom of the ninth tied 3-3. With an ace pitching performance from starter Will Bednar and closer Landon Sims, a defensive replacement sealed the fate of the Longhorns.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 27, 2021
The finals are set between two SEC teams that met during conference play in late April. The one game Mississippi State won in Nashville came against Leiter, scheduled to pitch Monday night. The Commodores enter the finals at full strength, but don’t count out a Bulldogs staff that owns the top rank in strikeouts per nine innings.
This article will look at the projected starters in this best-of-three format. With Vanderbilt expected to be favorites in Games 1 and 2, Mississippi State will look to win the National Championship as an underdog.
2021 College World Series Finals Schedule
Photos via Getty Images except when noted otherwise.
Mississippi State vs. Vanderbilt, Game 1
Monday, June 28 at 7 p.m. ET
Vanderbilt will throw its ace off a full week’s rest after taking a loss to NC State on June 21.
Leiter dominated the hottest hitting team in the nation, with only a single mistake costing the Commodores the game. The Wolfpack managed only four hits and a run, striking out 15 times.
Jack Leiter, 13th and 14th Ks (both 96mph Fastballs). pic.twitter.com/rqNFwuT83O
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 22, 2021
Mississippi State made short work of Leiter back in April, ringing up four earned runs through just five innings.
Although the Bulldogs rank outside the top 75 in slugging percentage, a rank of 12th in strikeout-to-walk ratio will be an advantage in each game.
Christian MacLeod should get the nod, but he also provides the same odds as starter Houston Harding. MacLeod threw 123 pitches in a regional victory over VCU but has lasted longer than six innings just twice this season.
Leiter and the Commodores are projected at -165, but Mississippi State hitters have the advantage of previously seeing his arsenal.
The biggest advantage for the Bulldogs may be how the bullpen was managed.
Sims has been used for just 51 pitches over the past week. Setup man Preston Johnson ran up just 73 pitches in that same time span. With thunderstorms projected, the team with the best bullpen may have plenty of underdog value.
Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State, Game 2
Tuesday, June 29 at 7 p.m. ET
The key to beating Rocker is forcing him to throw off-speed pitches in the strike zone.
Mississippi State will deal with a second Vandy ace who has thrown 328 pitches in his last three starts. Rocker dominated this Bulldogs lineup back in April and is coming off an 11-strikeout effort against NC State.
Kumar Rocker, Sliders (home plate view) pic.twitter.com/llFJkrN8jl
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 25, 2021
Harding entered in relief for the Bulldogs in Knoxville back on April 25, giving up two earned runs while recording only four outs.
Considering Rocker will be a massive public favorite to either save the season or win the championship, the total may be the correct play.
Mississippi State continues to make pitchers throw strikes, while this game may require Sims to throw 80 pitches. Rocker could be enough to set the total south of eight runs, giving value to the over.
Mississippi State vs. Vanderbilt, Game 3 (If Needed)
Wednesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. ET
Bulldogs photo via Mississippi State Athletics & HailState.com; Commodores photo via Vanderbilt Athletics & VandyBoys.com.
Will Bednar has meant everything to Mississippi State of late, striking out 22 in 12.1 innings of work in back-to-back appearances against Texas.
If the Cowbell sticks steal one from Rocker or Leiter, Christian Little awaits after starting only two games since mid-May. The freshman allowed just a single earned run in each start against Stanford, Ole Miss and Florida International.
Little would also throw within a week of his 18th birthday.
Vanderbilt’s pitcher, Christian Little, throws like Justin Verlander pic.twitter.com/fXfRD2WyJU
— Ben Porter (@Ben13Porter) June 23, 2021
Any number with Bednar at +110 or better puts value on Mississippi State in this specific game. But that’s not the best play.
The potential of having a Vanderbilt starter not named Leiter or Rocker makes the projection for this finale a pick’em, giving value to the Bulldogs win the series.
Series Predictions & Betting Picks
There are not many statistical differences between Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
Both teams rank 14th in walks offensively and have the top two spots in strikeouts per nine from a pitching staff perspective. Fielding percentage is always a key for handicapping college baseball, but both teams boast an identical mark at 97.4%.
In terms of pitching, the best bullpen in the nation from Mississippi State counters the powerful starting staff of Vanderbilt.
Landon Sims ⛽️
K strut needs work Simsbrel 😀 pic.twitter.com/OxZ7orZsUG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 27, 2021
Vanderbilt will deserve to be the favorite in this series with statistical advantages in slugging and stolen bases.
There’s every reason to believe that Mississippi State can steal one of the first two games, making the loser of Game 1 a bet to win the series. An easy hedge will exist when Game 3 is lined no greater than -120 for either team.
The lowest total of the series should come in Game 2 with Rocker against any Bulldogs pitcher not named Bednar. Individual games will be played when there’s a 20-cent difference in the posted projection, but Vanderbilt has taken the lion’s share of steam in every game over the past six weeks.
The best advice for Vanderbilt betters is to get a wager in early, while Mississippi State bettors should wait as long as possible for the first two games.
If Bednar and Sims are rested for a potential Game 3, the Bulldogs will leave Omaha as national champions.