The Super Regionals in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament get underway on Friday and it's time to get familiar with the teams vying for a spot in Omaha at the College World Series.
Here's one fact you should know about each of the 16 teams still standing.
The Bruins might have the most talented roster in the Super Regionals as 13 UCLA players were drafted this week by Major League Baseball teams. First baseman Michael Togila went in the first round to the Rockies, while catcher Ty Hasselman went in the 40th round to the Dodgers. The big league clubs like the potential of the players on this team, the question is, will it translate into a trip to Omaha? The Bruins haven’t been to the College World Series since 2013, when they won it all.
This is the third trip to the Super Regionals for Michigan since 2015, but if they emerge from it victorious it will end a decades-long drought of playing the College World Series for the Wolverines. Michigan hasn’t been on that stage since 1984. Barry Larkin was on that Michigan team and some guy named Barry Bonds was playing in that same World Series for Arizona State. The Wolverines haven’t won a World Series since 1962.
Of all the players left in the Super Regionals, J. J. Bedlay was selected the highest in this week’s MLB Amateur Draft, going fourth overall to the Miami Marlins. The Vanderbilt right fielder leads all of Division I baseball in dingers this season, hitting 26 home runs to go along with his .353 batting average, .467 on-base percentage and .739 slugging percentage. Bedlay is also 19th in the country in RBI’s, driving in 68 of his teammates this season.
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Super Regional hosts, game times released
Like Michigan, it’s been a long time since Duke has caught a glimpse of the biggest stage in college baseball. The Blue Devils won their regional for the second straight season, but they haven’t been to the College World Series since 1961. The Blue Devils have never won a College World Series.
The Red Raiders are great at hitting, but another one of their big strengths is defense. Texas Tech is third in the nation in turning double plays, notching 60 of them this year. The Red Raiders are also top 40 in the country in fielding percentage, with a .977 mark. The Red Raiders had just three errors in regional play.
PREDICTIONS: Previewing every Super Regional matchup
When Oklahoma State comes to play, they plan to hit at least a few balls over the fence. The Cowboys have hit 87 homers this year, which is tied for fourth most in the nation and is tied for the most among all teams left in the Super Regionals. The Cowboys hit three dingers in the regional stage. Trevor Boone has led the charge when it comes to launching balls past the outfield, hitting 20 homers this year. Colin Simpson has 15 home runs, while Andrew Navigato and Christian Funk have each hit 12.
The Cardinals will face East Carolina in the Super Regional stage, a team it used to share a conference with when both were members of Conference USA from 2002 to 2005. The Pirates have won the last 10 meetings with Louisville, but are making their first trip to Jim Patterson Stadium since 2005. Louisville has advanced to the College World Series four times — all coming since 2007 — but have never won the national championship.
The Pirates are the lone representative from the American Athletic Conference in the Super Regionals. In fact, they are the only team from a non-Power 5 Conference (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) to make it this far. But the Pirates are no joke. During the regular and post season they beat teams from four of those conferences, notching wins over Utah, Ole Miss, Maryland, Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. The Pirates didn’t face any teams from the Big 12 though. This will be their fifth time since 2001 that they have reached the Super Regional stage.
The Rebels swept their Oxford regional, outscoring opponents 41-7 over three games. That’s a lot of runs. Coming out of the regional round, Ole Miss ranks first among the teams still standing in batting average (.404), on-base percentage (.527), slugging percentage (.675) and runs per-game (13.7) in NCAA tournament play. The Rebels have a pretty solid pitching staff too, as each of its three starters in regional play were selected in the first 12 rounds of the MLB Draft.
BY THE NUMBERS: One key stat for each Super Regional match-up
The Razorbacks have twice been College World Series runner-ups, most recently finishing second last year after losing a three-game championship series to Oregon State. This is the second straight Super Regional trip for the Razorbacks, and they’re looking to come out of it with their 10th College World Series berth. But getting out of the Super Regional will be easier said than done, as the Razorbacks went 2-3 against Ole Miss in the regular season and SEC tournament.
The Cardinal likes to hit the long ball. Stanford is fourth in the nation in home runs with 87 dingers this year and they have also notched 40 sacrifice flies this year, which is third most in the nation. Stanford has also hit into 561 fly-outs this season, second most among all Pac-12 teams. This team swings for the fences and will keep Mississippi State outfielders busy.
This group of Bulldogs has a ton of postseason experience. Mississippi State is in the Super Regionals for the fourth straight season and looking to appear in the College World Series for a second straight year. This Mississippi State roster has 18 players on it who are either juniors or seniors. The team’s best hitter, with a .357 batting average, is junior Jake Mangum, while the top pitcher on the staff is redshirt junior Ethan Small, who has a 9-2 record and a 1.88 ERA.
Among all the teams left in the Super Regionals, LSU is the program with the most history, having won six College World Series titles, all between 1991 and 2009. Texas also has six and USC has 12 College World Series crowns. The Tigers were runner-ups in 2017.
When the Seminoles call in J.C. Flowers, consider the game over. A 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher, Flowers is one of the top relievers in the country with 1.52 ERA, 11 saves, zero losses and 22 strikeouts over 23.2 innings pitched. Batters have just a .188 average against him. Flowers was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates this past week with the 124th overall pick in the MLB Draft.
The Tar Heels have twice been College World Series runner-ups, but have never won it all. This is their third straight NCAA tournament appearance, and if they can beat Auburn, they’ll be going to Omaha for the second straight season. But UNC is 1-7-1 all-time against the Tigers and the two schools haven’t played since 2003. The Tar Heels are 1-1 against SEC teams this year, losing to South Carolina in the regular season, but then beating Tennessee for the regional title.
The Tigers haven’t been to the College World Series since 1997. That Auburn team featured future major leaguers in Tim Hudson and David Ross, while Lance Berkman, Part Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Troy Glaus were playing for other teams in Omaha. Auburn went 2-2 against ACC teams this season, each contest coming against Georgia Tech.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.