The eight teams are set and we are ready to get the 2011 College World Series started. Six of the top eight national seeds made it to Omaha, No. 5 Florida State fell to Texas A&M in the super regional and No. 8 Rice lost in the regional to California. That's a pretty fair body of work for the selection committee.
There are two games set for Saturday and two games set for Sunday. This is a double-elimination tournament that has two brackets with four teams in each bracket. The two winners of their respective brackets will play a best-of-three to determine the national champion.
Bracket #1 has North Carolina (50-14) taking on Vanderbilt (52-10) Saturday at 2pm ET, with the game being televised on ESPN, and streamed on ESPN3.com. The other Bracket #1 game is the most interesting match-up of this first round of games with Texas (49-17) taking on Florida (50-17) at 7pm ET on Saturday also on ESPN and streamed on ESPN3.com
North Carolina and Vanderbilt are both unbeaten so far in this NCAA tournament as they both went 3-0 in their regionals and then won both super regional games to earn this spot in Omaha. Vandy has been stellar so far as they have won their games by scores of 10-0, 10-2, 6-1, 11-1 and 9-3. They face a North Carolina team that has been clicking on all cylinders, both from an offensive standpoint from top to bottom in the order, and on the mound with Patrick Johnson and Kent Emanuel leading the charge. They combined for 13.2 innings giving up just 10 hits, two runs with 12 strikeouts and 2 walks in their two starts in the super regional against Stanford.
Texas rolls out with one of the best pitchers in the country in Taylor Jungmann, the No. 12 overall pick to the Milwaukee Brewers, who lowered his ERA to 1.38 in the super regionals which is good for 5th in the nation right now. Jungmann faces a Florida offense that blasted nine home runs in three games during the super regional against Mississippi State. Led by the SEC Player of the Year, catcher Mike Zunino, who went 6-13 with five runs, four RBI's and two home runs in their super regional games it's going to be an excellent match-up with two powerhouses squaring off on the biggest stage in the world for College baseball.
Bracket #2 has California (37-21) taking on top-seeded Virginia (54-10) at 2pm ET on Sunday and will be televised on ESPN and streamed live online at ESPN3.com The fourth and final game will be South Carolina (50-14) taking on Texas A&M (47-20) on Sunday night at 7pm ET on ESPN2 and streamed on ESPN3.com.
California comes into this tournament as the underdog as they were the No. 3 seed in the Rice regional only to come out of that and beat Dallas Baptist in the super regional for their shot at a title. They have a tough road as they take on the No. 1 overall seed in Virginia, who is relieved to have made it here after a two-out two-RBI walkoff hit from Chris Taylor to beat UC Irvine and send them to Omaha.
South Carolina has gone 5-0 in this NCAA tournament thus far and has played pretty consistent baseball throughout the course of the regionals and super regionals. They won their super regional games by a combined score of 13-3, and their regionals by a combined score of 21-8. Texas A&M will rely on starter Michael Wacha, who is having himself a fantastic postseason going 20.1 innings, giving up just two runs total for a NCAA tournament ERA of 0.88, he's gone 3-0, including two wins in elimination games for the Aggies.
Pitching seems to be the name of the game in Omaha this year as five of the top six teams in the nation in ERA are represented in this years' College World Series. #1 Virginia (2.27) leads the country followed by #2 Texas (2.33), #3 Vanderbilt (2.41), #5 Texas A&M (2.64) and #6 South Carolina (2.65).
Only Vanderbilt finds themselves in the top 10 in both ERA and batting average, where they rank 6th in the country while hitting .319 as a team.
The best of three for the two bracket winners will start on Monday, June 27th and they will play game two on Tuesday and game three (if necessary) on Wednesday. All of these games are set for 8pm ET and will be televised on ESPN and streamed on ESPN3.com All games will be played at the brand new TD Ameritrade Park for the first time since leaving historical Rosenblatt Stadium, where the College World Series had been played since 1950.