Wilson: How I’m Betting All 16 College Baseball NCAA Tournament Regionals

Wilson: How I’m Betting All 16 College Baseball NCAA Tournament Regionals article feature image
Credit:

George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Vanderbilt baseball

  • Collin Wilson dives into each four-team NCAA Baseball Tournament Regional and tells you whether to back the favorite or ride an underdog to the Super Regionals.
  • The tournament kicks off on Friday afternoon, while the College World Series begins on June 15.

There are plenty of similarities between college basketball’s March Madness and college baseball’s road to Omaha.

College baseball has conference tournaments, at-large bids and a selection committee to shape a field of 64 teams. Unlike hoops, though, amateur baseball breaks pods of four teams into 16 regional sites with a double elimination weekend.

One team from each pod will advance to create a “Sweet 16” to compete in the Super Regionals the weekend of June 7, then the eight-team College World Series will be set from that.

Omaha is the goal, and if you are not familiar with how crazy betting on college baseball can be, allow the ending of LSU and Auburn to paint a picture.

Here is the full regional bracket, set to begin on Friday, May 31.

Vegas was first in on the futures action with a release of numbers from Caesars, followed a few hours later by Westgate.

College World Series Odds

Odds via Westgate

  • UCLA 8-1
  • Vanderbilt 8-1
  • Arkansas 12-1
  • Mississippi State 14-1
  • Georgia 14-1
  • Louisville 16-1
  • Stanford 16-1
  • Georgia Tech 16-1
  • Texas Tech 16-1
  • Oregon State 16-1
  • Oklahoma State 20-1
  • UC Santa Barbara 25-1
  • East Carolina 25-1
  • Miami Florida 30-1
  • Texas A&M 30-1
  • NC State 30-1
  • West Virginia 30-1
  • LSU 30-1
  • Ole Miss 30-1
  • Auburn 30-1
  • Arizona State 30-1
  • Baylor 40-1
  • North Carolina 40-1
  • Tennessee 40-1
  • Illinois 50-1
  • Indiana 50-1
  • Florida 50-1
  • Creighton 50-1
  • Dallas Baptist 50-1
  • Fresno State 60-1
  • Florida State 60-1
  • TCU 80-1
  • Cal 80-1
  • Nebraska 100-1
  • Michigan 100-1
  • UConn 100-1
  • Southern Miss 100-1
  • Clemson 100-1
  • Coastal Carolina 100-1
  • Duke 100-1
  • Liberty 200-1
  • Ohio State 250-1

Teams listed below are sequential in order of their respective regional. Numbers specified, e.g. UCLA (1), represents their overall national seeding. 

Los Angeles Regional

  • Teams: UCLA (1), Baylor, Loyola Marymount, Omaha
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 10 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: WatchESPN
  • Where: Jackie Robinson Stadium

There is no one to look at but the top seed in this region, UCLA. The Bruins finished No. 2 in RPI with the 15th ranked strength of schedule. The Pac-12 champs also faced 3-seeded Loyola Marymount in two occasions this season, both in a win for the Bruins. Baylor is not seen as a threat, with a 9-11 record away from home and losers in five of its last seven. Omaha went 1-8 against teams in the RPI 100, making the Mavericks the easy team to go two and out.

The price will be juicy, but UCLA never lost a weekend series this season. The Bruins should have no issues moving on to host a Super Regional against the Corvallis winner.

Team to Bet: UCLA

Corvallis Regional

  • Teams: Oregon State (16), Creighton, Michigan, Cincinnati
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 4 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Goss Stadium

The defending national champions pull in an overall seed of 16 in their quest to go back-to-back. These Beavers lost key players to the MLB draft and a head coach since 2018.

Home field advantage will be needed against the potential matchup with second seeded Creighton. The Jays are familiar with the road, playing 31 of 49 games away from TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Creighton has lost just once since April, with a 5-1 record against RPI Top 50 teams.

Michigan was a ‘last four in’ selection by the committee. The Wolverines may be the quick exit in this bracket, as Cincinnati and Creighton both have winning records against the Big Ten.

Michigan has a strength of schedule rank of 222nd against teams outside the Big Ten, while road-tested Creighton has the 12th rated RPI outside of the Big East.

Look for Creighton, led by the Big East Player of the Year Jake Holton and Pitcher of the Year Mitch Ragan, to an upset in this regional.

Team to Bet: Creighton

Nashville Regional

  • Teams: Vanderbilt (2), Indiana State, McNeese State, Ohio State
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 1 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN2/ESPN3
  • Where: Hawkins Field

Looking for the best opening round game at any regional? Nashville boasts a red-hot Vanderbilt team that has won 22 of 23, against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have won 11 of their last 13 games, including the Big Ten Tournament as a No. 7 seed against Nebraska in Omaha. Ohio State had to sweep Purdue just to get into the Big Ten tournament, and are now playing on house money.

Indiana State went 2-4 against the RPI top 25, but also lost in a head-to-head meeting with Vanderbilt on April 16. The Sycamores will face off first against a McNeese State team that is one of the best at steals, taking 89 this season for a rank of 48th.

Ohio State may have money line value in the opener, but the regional should be all Vanderbilt with their starters, bullpen and sticks.

Team to Bet: Vanderbilt

Morgantown Regional

  • Teams: West Virginia (15), Texas A&M, Duke, Fordham
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 4 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN2/ESPN3
  • Where: Monongalia County Ballpark

It may have crossed the selection committee’s mind that not all regionals can be hosted by an SEC team. Two-seeded Texas A&M sports a better strength of schedule and out of conference record than West Virginia. The Mountaineers are expected to line up their ace Alek Manoah against Texas A&M, but the best overall starting staff and bullpen belongs to the Aggies.

Duke was another ‘last four in’ selection by the committee. The Blue Devils are 4-12 against RPI top 25 teams, and should not make any noise in this regional.

It should be noted that an under should be played in each individual game, as none of the four teams have an offensive ranking in the top 100. Look for the most complete team from Morgantown to move on to the Supers.

Team to Bet: Texas A&M

Atlanta Regional

  • Teams: Georgia Tech (3), Auburn, Coastal Carolina, Florida A&M
  • Start: Friday, May 31, noon ET
  • How to Watch: ESPNU/ESPN3
  • Where: Russ Chandler Stadium

With pitching staff injuries and high powered offenses among the teams in the regional, expect plenty of offense and single game over the total bets.

Like most other regionals, Atlanta comes down to pitching, where Georgia Tech separates itself. Auburn has been without ace Tanner Burns since before the SEC Tournament with a shoulder injury.

The Jackets have three above average starters and one of the best closers in the nation. That closer, Tristin English, also happens to be Georgia Tech’s power hitting first baseman.

Team to Bet: Georgia Tech

Chapel Hill

  • Teams: North Carolina (14), Tennessee, Liberty, UNC-Wilmington
  • Start: Friday, May 31,  2 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Boshamer Stadium

If there is a team that could upset Georgia Tech in the Super Regionals, look no further than the Tar Heels. North Carolina won four straight in the ACC Tournament, including a 6-1 victory over the 3-seeded Yellow Jackets. To get there, North Carolina must deal with Tennessee, which makes its first tournament appearance since 2005.

Liberty also makes the draw in an opener with the Vols, but Tennessee beat the Flames 7-1 on Feb. 26.

This is another regional that will lack offense, so look to bet plenty of unders and ride with the best overall pitching staff. North Carolina is the least consistent team of all regional hosts, so the Heels should get a smaller investment.

Team to Bet: North Carolina

Athens Regional

  • Teams: Georgia (4), Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Mercer
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 7 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3/SEC Network
  • Where: Foley Field

Florida State extends its post season streak to 42 years, as this will be the last season for long time head coach Mike Martin. Don’t expect any magic from the Seminoles, Owls or Bears as Georgia is arguably the best team in the nation.

The Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 in RPI and have a 21-5 record outside of the SEC. Florida Atlantic has the most experience outside of Georgia, but a 5-8 record against the RPI Top 50 shows the Owls may not be ready for an SEC powerhouse.

Team to Bet: Georgia

Baton Rouge Regional

  • Teams: LSU (13), Arizona State, Southern Miss, Stony Brook
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 1 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPNU/ESPN3
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium

A fantastic opening round matchup pits LSU verses Stony Brook. For history buffs, this is a rematch of the 2012 Super Regional where the Sea Wolves defeated the Tigers. There should not be a repeat in this regional, as LSU is head and shoulders better than the other teams, including Arizona State.

The Sun Devils have put up some of the top offensive statistics in the country, but that came with a strength of schedule that ranked 202nd in non-conference play. LSU’s starters should be good enough in the humidity of Baton Rouge to move on.

Team to Bet: LSU

Fayetteville Regional

  • Teams: Arkansas (5), California, TCU, Central Connecticut State
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 2 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Baum Stadium at George Cole Field

I have been watching Razorback Baseball since the mid-1980’s, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Baum Stadium is the biggest home field advantage in college baseball.

Arkansas has won 17 of 18 weekend series since 2017, and is 23-12 all-time record in NCAA tournament games played at home.

TCU may have been the last entrant to the tournament with an RPI ranking of 59, but its pitching staff is at full health. TCU won 16 games away from Fort Worth and has a winning record against RPI top 50 teams.

Look for the Razorbacks to line up staff ace Isaiah Campbell against the Horned Frogs in Game 2, which should decide the regional.

Baum-Walker consistently breaks NCAA Baseball attendance records, and this weekend should be no different.

Team to Bet: Arkansas

Oxford Regional

  • Teams: Ole Miss (12), Illinois, Clemson, Jacksonville State
  • Start: Friday, May 31
  • How to Watch: ESPNU/ESPN3
  • Where: Swayze Field at Oxford-University Stadium

With an RPI ranking of No. 22, it was a bit of a surprise to see Ole Miss hosting a regional. A 20-19 record against the RPI top 50 and a hot SEC tournament run shows the Rebels have plenty of big game experience. Both Illinois and Clemson stumbled down the stretch and didn’t make any noise in their conference tournaments.

Ole Miss was shocked in the Oxford Super Regional against Tennessee Tech in 2018. The Rebels players and staff have referenced last years postseason as motivation for getting to Omaha in 2019.

Team to Bet: Ole Miss

Starkville Regional

  • Teams: Mississippi State (6), Miami, Central Michigan, Southern
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 1 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: SEC Network/ESPN3
  • Where: Polk-Dement Stadium

If there is another venue that can be as hostile as Arkansas’ Baum-Walker Stadium, it is Dudy Noble Field.

Southern is a great story, going from 9 wins last season to 32-22. But ranking 291st in strength of schedule means it probably can’t compete on this stage.

If a total is listed in the Southern-Mississippi State game, it could be worth a play on the over as the Jags are below 230th in ERA and WHIP.

Speaking of runs scored, Miami has the most power of any team in this regional. The Hurricanes finished 14th national with 75 home runs. It is safe to say a potential game with Mississippi State may see a few pitch arounds Hurricanes first baseman Alex Toral, who has 22 dingers on the season.

Once again, the best pitching staff belongs to the team with the home field advantage, and that will make the difference.

Team to Bet: Mississippi State

Palo Alto Regional

  • Teams: Stanford (11), UC Santa Barbara, Fresno State, Sacramento State
  • Start: Friday, May 31
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Klein Field at Sunken Diamond

Sacramento State lost the opening game of the WAC Tournament only to win five-straight elimination games. This all-California regional is more open than any others, as Stanford has one of the worst strength of schedule (74th) than another other regional host.

The best pitcher in this regional is Fresno State’s Ryan Jensen.  The Bulldogs hurler will more than likely open against UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have impressive hitting and pitching statistics, but consider they have played zero games against the RPI top 50. However, they do have a 14-2 record against the top 100.

As for the winner of this toss-up of a regional, give me Fresno State. The Bulldogs have won 13 straight away from home and have an ace that throws straight gas.

Team to Bet: Fresno State

Louisville Regional

  • Teams: Louisville (7), Indiana, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 2 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Jim Patterson Stadium

Regional host Louisville has not played well of late, losing three of its last four games.

Many outside of the Cardinals program believe the experience on the team will flip the switch, but a potential matchup with Indiana looms. The Hoosiers lost to the Cardinals 8-7 in extra innings on May 14.

Because the teams stumbled down the stretch and had a coin flip game just two weeks ago, look for any plus-money spots on the second-seeded Hoosiers.

Team to Bet: Indiana

Greenville Regional

  • Teams: East Carolina (10), North Carolina State, Campbell, Quinnipiac
  • Start: Friday, May 31, noon ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium

East Carolina has lost three of its last four, falling to Wichita State in the conference tournament.

North Carolina State had hopes to host a regional, but instead will travel down highway 264 to the Greenville regional. This may present a lookahead opportunity that Campbell and Quinnipiac to capitalize on.

Campbell sports a 3-3 record against the RPI top 50, supporting a strength of schedule rank of 13th in non-conference play. These teams are very familiar with each other, as Campbell beat NC State on May 7 and lost to East Carolina 4-3 on May 14.

The Camels are worth a bet against NC State, and deserve a small investment as the regional winner.

Team to Bet: Campbell

Lubbock Regional

  • Teams: Texas Tech (8), Dallas Baptist, Florida, Army
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 4 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park

While Texas Tech’s pitching should easily get the Red Raiders past Army, the Dallas Baptist-Florida game may present a betting opportunity. The Gators joined Texas Tech in Omaha for last years College World Series, and may have overlook against the Patriots.

Dallas Baptist sports a winning road record with a non-conference RPI of 16th in the nation. Florida has struggled on the road, with a 6-12 record. Against top 25 teams the Gators are 5-17.

The Red Raiders should be overvalued as a team that hosts a regional and went to Omaha last season. The value here is on a Dallas Baptist team that has the experience to challenge Texas Tech.

Team to Bet: Dallas Baptist

Oklahoma City Regional

  • Teams: Oklahoma State (9), Connecticut, Nebraska, Harvard
  • Start: Friday, May 31, 1 p.m. ET
  • How to Watch: ESPN3
  • Where: Chickasaw Bricktown Regional

Because of the incremental weather, Oklahoma State will not be playing at home in Stillwater water for this regional. There is still a level of comfort in Oklahoma City as the Cowboys just played in Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark for the Big 12 Championship.

It will be an emotional weekend for players and fans, as the weather has displaced Oklahomans from their homes while the Lady Pokes will be playing in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City at the same time.

The Pokes have momentum after plenty of delays and morning games in the Big 12 Tournament. Connecticut and Nebraska have a combined 4-10 record against RPI top 25 teams.

While the Cornhuskers are well coached, making it deep into the Big Ten Tournament, they have not played the schedule or had the consistency like the Pokes.

Team to Bet: Oklahoma State