College World Series Odds, Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets & Projections for Opening College Baseball Games
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: The NCAA Baseball trophy at the College World Series.
All roads have led to Omaha, where fans and alumni of eight college programs step forward to crown a champion. This conclusion of the NCAA Baseball Tournament will take place over the span of a fortnight at Charles Schwab Field.
Wake Forest is the first No. 1 overall seed to make it to Omaha since 2018 and would be the first to take home a national title since the Miami Hurricanes in 1999.
The Cinderella story will come in Bracket 2, where either TCU or Oral Roberts will play in the winners' bracket.
The format of the College World Series is a combination of the Regionals and Super Regionals, as four teams populate each side of the bracket. Teams can take a loss, as double elimination rules apply until a team is sent to the Championship Series.
While the Championship Series will be a best-of-three format, this article will focus on each side of the bracket with individual projected pitcher moneyline and totals.
When it comes to Park Factors, Charles Schwab Field can be a pitchers' paradise. Each foul line runs 335 feet alongside a symmetrical 375 feet to left- and right-center topped at 408 to dead center.
There's an expansive amount of foul area, running a minimum of 52 feet from home plate to the first row of seats. Since the opening of Charles Schwab Field in 2011, teams have seen a 15% decrease in total runs versus their season average.
Still, this is the Midwest, and the wind has been known to reverse directions at more than 15 mph in the same day.
Let's take a look at our eight teams with targeted odds in mind for the opening-game moneyline, totals and bracket futures. As always, our pitching tracker will update as starters are announced.
College Baseball ⚾️🏆
— Circa Sports (@CircaSports) June 13, 2023
College World Series Bracket 1 Projections
Oral Roberts vs. TCU Odds
|Oral Roberts Odds|
-110 / -120
-110 / -120
Get Cinderella’s slipper shined up, because either TCU or Oral Roberts will be playing in the College World Series winners' bracket. Neither team hosted a Regional, but both entered the postseason on a winning streak.
The Golden Eagles soared in Stillwater before heading to Eugene, losing a heartbreaker in Game 1 after building an eight-run lead. No team in Super Regional history had dropped a lead that large before ORU.
No worries for the praying hands of Tulsa, as head coach Ryan Folmar led the Summit League champions to a comeback by taking the next two from Oregon to advance.
ORAL ROBERTS SHOCKS THE WORLD AND ADVANCES TO OMAHA
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) June 12, 2023
Oral Roberts has the statistics where it matters, ranking as the best overall team in college baseball when it comes to fielding percentage. A staff ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio in the national top 20 complement a lineup that ranks top-20 in slugging and on-base percentage.
The Golden Eagles don't have the highest RPI at 62nd, but they've eliminated enough Power Five teams to be a threat.
There's big-stage experience on the roster, as outfielder Matt Hogan previously played at Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Also keep an eye on Jonah Cox’s 47-game hitting streak as a storyline throughout Bracket 2.
Meanwhile, the season-long numbers for TCU don't fit the team that's currently in the field.
The Horned Frogs sit outside the top 50 in slugging and home runs per nine, but a bevy of dingers have assisted in wins throughout the postseason.
TCU doubled the runs of Indiana State in the Supers while posting 44 runs in three games during the Fayetteville Regional.
The difference in these two squads comes down to pitching, where there's a massive advantage for Oral Roberts. As previously mentioned, there's a direct correlation between strikeout-to-walk ratio and a team winning the College World Series. While Oral Roberts ranks 16th in that area, TCU comes in at 71st with a bullpen ERA, FIP and xFIP average 1.1 higher than its counterpart.
The Horned Frogs have caught all the attention for their offense, but the pitching has been suspect, as Cam Brown and Kole Klecker average fewer innings per start than any other team in Omaha.
As with most teams that excel in home runs, Charles Schwab Field could be the equalizer to a hot offense. Pitching wins championships in Omaha, and in this specific case, Oral Roberts will push into the winners' bracket while captivating America.
Jakob Hall is expected to get the opening start, with odds of -190 against Klecker or Brown. The market continues to price the Golden Eagles inaccurately, leaving investors in the care of the praying hands of South Tulsa.
-110 or Better
Virginia vs. Florida Odds
-110 / -120
-110 / -120
There were two different stories for these two teams as acting Super Regional hosts.
Florida took two from South Carolina, asking only Brandon Neely and Cade Fisher to throw just 59 pitches from the bullpen. Starter Hurston Waldrep threw his only shutout of the season to close the book on the Gamecocks' year.
Waldrep and Brandon Sproat have alternated starting the SEC Tournament and Regional, as both seniors are interchangeable as staff aces.
Hurston Waldrep's 12th and 13th Ks. pic.twitter.com/7fx0bD3onU
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 10, 2023
Shortstop Josh Rivera also homered each game to throw cold water on a steaming hot Gamecocks roster.
While the Gators rely on pure power to generate offense, the Virginia sticks needed a game to show off a top-10 ranking in on-base percentage. The Cavaliers took an opening-game loss against a stingy Duke team before scoring 26 runs in two consecutive wins.
The bullpen usage consisted of just two innings from Jack O’Connor in the victories, as Brian Edgington and Connelly Early were excellent as starters after the loss.
If there's a team that can survive a losers' bracket journey, it's Virginia, which has enough starting arms to go consecutive days.
The Gators are thankful to have multiple options for pitching, as Jac Caglianone not only leads the team in home runs but has started 16 games on the season.
It doesn't matter if Caglianone, Sproat or Waldrep gets the nod in the opener; Florida still projects as an underdog to Virginia.
The Cavaliers average more than a run per game, while their bullpen owns an ERA and FIP nearly a run lower. Fifth-year senior and Coastal Carolina transfer Nick Parker is expected to start the opener after allowing just five earned runs in his three previous starts spanning 20.2 innings.
With supreme options from a closer and stopper perspective, look for the Cavaliers to advance.
-120 or Better
Bracket 1 Analysis & Pick
Oral Roberts may finally meet its match against Virginia in the winners' bracket.
Connelly Early projects -145 against Harley Gollert, giving plenty of reason to believe the Wahoos advance to the bracket finale.
When searching through the losers' bracket for a team that has enough arms to win multiple games on consecutive days, Florida fits the bill. The Gators can easily match Oral Roberts from an offensive firepower standpoint, but it's the numbers from the staff and closer Brandon Neely that set Florida apart.
Look for the winner of the Virginia and Florida opener to save its bullpen for a bracket-clinching game. The Gators will have the arms to fight through Oral Roberts and TCU, as the bullpen has a half-dozen stoppers with more than 15 appearances while averaging more than a strikeout per inning.
As fun as the Cinderella stories have been for TCU and Oral Roberts, there isn’t enough pitching to justify a run through the losers' bracket for either team.
When this bracket sends a team to the championship round, look for the team with the better fielding percentage and strikeout staff combined with extra-base hits and on-base percentage from the lineup. Those advantages all sit with Virginia.
Bracket 1 Winner: Virginia
College World Series Bracket 2 Projections
Wake Forest vs. Stanford Odds
|Wake Forest Odds|
-120 / -110
-120 / -110
Does any team want to challenge a No. 1 overall seed that has torn through every opponent? That's the question with regards to Wake Forest, a team that has played the minimum five games in the past two weekends with a +59 run differential.
The Demon Deacons love to hit bombs, as Nick Kurtz and Brock Wilken have combined for 54 on the season. The biggest question is if power will be enough at spacious Charles Schwab Field. Wake Forest ranks top-10 in slugging, on-base and scoring thanks in part to the small confines of David F. Couch Ballpark.
One thing that's not in question is the quality of starting pitchers Rhett Lowder and Josh Hartle.
Lowder has yet to lose a game this season, taking a 15-0 record with a sub-2 ERA into Omaha. The Deacs own the best staff ERA, FIP and xFIP of any team remaining, justifying the high odds on the board to back Wake.
Stanford reached Omaha thanks to a fielding error by Texas in the Super Regional.
After an opening loss to the Longhorns, the Cardinal received a gem from ace Quinn Mathews in Game 2. The senior mowed down Texas in a 16-strikeout complete game on Sunday, but the victory came at a cost of 156 pitches. Now, questions remain as to who the opening-game starter will be for Stanford.
Stanford pitcher Quinn Mathews threw 156 pitches in a win last night 😳
He finished the game with 16 strikeoutspic.twitter.com/P6FqkBfj8S
— Action Network Colleges (@ActionColleges) June 12, 2023
The opening number for this head-to-head matchup is Wake Forest -210, a number that shows plenty of value on the Demon Deacons. No matter the starting pitcher combination — Quinn Mathews or Joey Dixon for Stanford against Rhett Lowder or Josh Hartle for Wake Forest — the projected odds float from -265 to -460.
There's a stark contrast between these two teams in terms of runs per game and bullpen ERA, all in favor of the Cardinal. Keep an eye on any inflated totals; there's no wind over 10 mph projected during the first week of play in Omaha.
-260 or Better
Tennessee vs. LSU Odds
-120 / -110
-120 / -110
Three SEC teams made it to the College World Series, as Tennessee and LSU are set to renew their rivalry in Bracket 2.
These teams met in conference play over the weekend of March 30, with LSU taking two games of the three-game series at home in Alex Box Stadium.
National Player of the Year Paul Skenes threw seven innings, collecting one earned run and a whopping 12 strikeouts against the Volunteers. Ty Floyd didn’t fare as well against Tennessee, allowing four earned in six innings.
The key to this game is the starting pitcher for LSU, as the bullpen has been a consistent issue for the Tigers this season.
The good news for LSU is that it has an offense led by MLB-bound Dylan Crews.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 12, 2023
Crews has reached base in all 63 LSU games this season. Any attempt to pitch around the lead-off hitter has turned into plenty of RBI opportunities for third baseman Tommy White and first baseman Tre’ Morgan.
Tennessee has plenty of fireballers of its own, as Chase Dollander and Andrew Lindsey have each faced this Tigers lineup. Both are capable of starting here, with Lindsey taking Friday openers and Dollander taking Saturdays through the end of SEC play.
There's a distinct possibility that Tennessee elects to save both arms if Skenes is announced for the opening game.
Outside of having Skenes, the pitching is clearly in favor of the Volunteers. Head coach Tony Vitello has the second-best staff in ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio nationally.
Both teams have similar fielding ranks, an important element considering Tennessee made contact with a half-dozen hits earlier this season.
The opening number is inflated for LSU even if Skenes is named the starter. The ace for LSU projects -140 against Dollander and -125 against Lindsey.
+1.5 (-110) or Better
Bracket 2 Analysis & Pick
There are two speeding trains in this bracket. The only question is when they will meet.
Wake Forest, which has dominated the college baseball season in every aspect, now has the inside track to potentially face LSU's Skenes. Whether or not the best pitcher in the nation lines up to face the Demon Deacons is the biggest question. Head coach Jay Johnson is notorious for keeping his cards close, as the decision between Skenes and Ty Floyd will be expected an hour before first pitch.
The biggest takeaway is that LSU becomes much more vulnerable when Skenes is not on the mound. The Tigers are capable of scoring as many runs as any team in Omaha, evidenced by a top-five rank in scoring, slugging and on-base percentage.
However, tight games need strong bullpens, and LSU ranks a low 271st in generating double plays.
With the knowledge that Skenes won't pitch every game, the question becomes which team has the firepower to beat Wake Forest. Starting pitcher Seth Keener put up a couple of duds to close ACC play, while Sean Sullivan has not lasted past the third inning in his previous three starts.
The key to beating Wake Forest is putting up crooked numbers in games not started by Lowder or Hartle. Outside of Wake, LSU has the best offense and starting pitching, while Tennessee has the better bullpen.
No matter if Keener or Sullivan is the starter for Wake Forest, the projections range from -180 to -300 depending on the opponents. Even Skenes is an underdog of +130 against this Demon Deacons team.
The best pitching staff from a strikeout perspective, along with fielding percentage to back it up, is Wake Forest despite the chalky nature of the betting market.
Bracket 2 Winner: Wake Forest