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NCAA staff | June 16, 2019

2019 College World Series: Predictions for who’ll win the NCAA title

Florida State beats Arkansas, 1-0

The Omaha 8 is set and we are ready to make our next round of predictions for who will win the 2019 College World Series. We made our first set of picks last month, and you can see how well (or not well) we did with those below.

But first, with the Road to Omaha complete, here are our updated predictions for who we think will win the final series of the 2019 college baseball season.

CWS 2019: Full tournament bracket | Printable CWS bracket | CWS info & tickets | Shop latest CWS gear

Here’s why Vanderbilt will win the College World Series — Wayne Cavadi

Championship series: Vanderbilt vs. Florida State

College World Series champion: Vanderbilt, 2 games

Why Vanderbilt will win it all: The Commodores were the choice as soon as the field of 64 was set and there is little reason to change that. Vanderbilt entered the series against Duke winners of 12 straight and had a mid-week win on May 7 against its College World Series opening opponent Louisville back on May 7. When you combine momentum and familiarity with the field, you get a juggernaut of a baseball team.

CWS RECORDs: 9 unbreakable ones | 1 eye-popper from each team | 10 notable for the stat geek 

Vanderbilt cruised through the regionals before hitting a bit of a speed bump in the super regionals, getting smoked by Duke in the first game. How did the Vandy Boys respond? Freshman Kumar Rocker made tournament history with the first no-hitter in super regional play before the Commodores exploded for a 13-run output to advance to Omaha.

That's the problem opponents have with Vanderbilt. These Vandy Boys are good at everything. They are averaging 8.2 runs a game in the tournament so far and are fourth in the nation with a .317 batting average, seventh in fielding with a .981 mark, and in the top 35 in both ERA (3.80) and WHIP (1.27). If JJ Bleday — the nation's leader in home runs — doesn't get you, Austin Martin — who's hitting a team-high .410 with a 1.122 OPS — will. Mason Hickman, Patrick Raby, Drake Fellows, and Kumar Rocker all strike out more than one per inning with a combined 3.67 ERA. There are so many weapons that this team seems built for Omaha glory.

MOP: The ultimate guide to every Most Outstanding Player | The CWS all-time lineup

Most Outstanding Player: The easy choice is Bleday, who is in a great position to take home the 2019 Golden Spikes Award before the College World Series begins. But I’m going with Martin. Bleday may be able to deliver the big blow, but Martin has made this lethal offense go all season long. He began the season in the MLB 4 Collegiate Baseball Tournament reaching base six times and set the tone for the super regional clincher with a leadoff home run. He’s the kind of player that can make Adley Rutschman’s 2018 CWS series hit record last just one season.

One bold prediction: Having Florida State in the championship series is as bold as it gets in this stacked field. Plenty questioned whether the Seminoles would even make the tournament when May started, and lo and behold here they are. The Mike Martin farewell tour was extended in thrilling walk-off fashion and there is enough talent to surprise. Arkansas will be a tough out, focused on the redemption of last year, but it just seems like this Seminole run will continue.

Watch the walk-off single that's sending Florida State and Mike Martin back to the CWS

Here's why Mississippi State will win the College World Series — Anthony Chiusano 

Championship series: Arkansas vs. Mississippi State

College World Series champion: Mississippi State, 3 games

Why Mississippi State will win: The Bulldogs have a bona fide ace in Ethan Small, a powerful offense that's averaged more than seven runs per game this postseason and an experienced core that got a taste of Omaha last year. 

Mississippi State went 5-0 in regionals and super regionals, most recently sweeping Stanford in Starkville to clinch a second straight trip to the CWS. Small is 2-0 during this postseason run and stands at 10-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 168 strikeouts for the season. Meanwhile, SEC all-time hits leader Jake Mangum has heated up following a sluggish start to regionals. The center fielder has collected six hits in his last three games — a regional final win over Miami (Fla.) and the pair of super regional victories over Stanford — and flashed the leather with a leaping grab to rob Stanford's Andrew Daschbach of a grand slam.

Pitching depth behind Small may be the X-factor that determines how deep a run the Bulldogs could make in Omaha. Freshman  J.T. Ginn (8-4, 3.36 ERA, 103 strikeouts)  has had a standout debut season but dealt with shoulder discomfort in regionals that limited him to just three innings against Southern. According to coach Chris Lemonis though, the righty would have been available to pitch in Game 3 against the Cardinal, if it was necessary.

Vanderbilt, No. 2 national seed and No. 1 in RPI, is the popular choice to win the national title. For good reason. The Commodores are 8-1 this season against the other seven CWS teams and haven't lost consecutive games since April 6-7 against Georgia. The Bulldogs could match up with Vandy in the second round in a deep Bracket 2 that features three SEC teams.

MSU and Vanderbilt faced off just once in the regular season — a 1-0 Commodores win on May 23. That was the last time Small (seven three-hit innings, one run allowed) took a loss. 

Most Outstanding Player: Elijah MacNamee. Small or Mangum are safe choices, but MacNamee has shown the knack to make an impact on the biggest of stages. Last year, MacNamee hit two walk-off homers in postseason play. One came in regionals, with the Bulldogs trailing Florida State 2-0 in an elimination game. The other came in super regionals against Vanderbilt, a series MSU would win in three games. The senior is just 3-for-20 so far this postseason, but he made sure his presence was felt in Sunday's finale against Stanford.

With the Bulldogs already in control, up 5-1 in the top of the ninth, MacNamee put the final touches on the sweep with a monster 3-run homer deep into the left-field seats. That came with an emphatic bat flip and a raucous celebration at home plate. Expect more fireworks from him in Omaha.

One bold prediction: Florida State reaches the national semifinals. Call it fate. From last four in to Omaha 8, the Seminoles are back in the CWS for the 23rd year and the final time under legendary coach Mike Martin. 

It'll be tough sledding with last year's runner-up Arkansas first up against the Noles on Saturday, but don't expect FSU to go down quietly. After all, Florida State comes off a two-game super regionals sweep of LSU at Alex Box Stadium, just about the toughest road environment you can play in. Let's see how much Martin magic is left in 2019.

Here's who we had heading to Omaha for the College World Series (the original picks)

Andrew Cyr

College World Series picks: UCLA, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Florida State, Vanderbilt, NC State, Stanford, Georgia Tech
College World Series champion: Vanderbilt
Quick thoughts: UCLA has been on top of the rankings for most of the 2019 season, but it’s the Commodores who might be the hottest team in the country right now. Last year we saw Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman take Omaha by storm en route to a Beavers title, and this year it’s going to be the J.J. Bleday show. Vandy is perhaps the deepest team in the tournament field, and because of that, the Commodores will be dog-piling on the mound at TD Ameritrade Park at the end of June.

2019 TOURNAMENT: What we learned from the bracket release

Anthony Chiusano

College World Series picks: UCLA,Texas Tech, Mississippi, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Louisville, UC Santa Barbara, Coastal Carolina
College World Series champion: UCLA
Quick thoughts: No top overall national seed has won the College World Series since 1999 Miami — but that drought ends this year. I'm sticking with the remarkable consistency of UCLA. Elsewhere, I picked plenty of pop with Arizona State, Coastal Carolina and Vanderbilt — all top-6 home run-hitting squads. UCLA-Vanderbilt would be the dream final matchup for many college baseball fans, but look for UC Santa Barbara to be a surprise player in Omaha.

Wayne Cavadi

College World Series picks: UCLA, Texas Tech, Arkansas, LSU, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, UC Santa Barbara, Georgia Tech
College World Series champion: Vanderbilt
Quick thoughts: Georgia Tech has some big bats, but the health of ace Xzavion Curry (shoulder injury) will be the big factor if the Jackets are to reach Omaha. I've always been a fan of the hot team out West, whether it was Cal State Fullerton or Long Beach State, so UC Santa Barbara will do as a favorite to reach the CWS. As strong as UCLA is, I still think this is Vanderbilt's tournament to lose. If it comes down to the Bruins and Commodores it will be a fight for the ages. 

CWS HISTORY: Coaches with most wins | Most titles | Most appearances | Conference trips 

Wayne Staats

College World Series picks: UCLA, Texas Tech, Arkansas, LSU, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina
College World Series champion: UCLA
Quick thoughts: UCLA-Vanderbilt is the matchup most baseball fans expect (and many want to see). Chances are, something can and will get wacky in the Regionals and Super Regionals. Vanderbilt could easily crush its way to the title, but I think UCLA wins its second national championship this year. I trust Ryan Garcia and UCLA's pitching more than anything else.

 The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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Division I
College World Series
June 15-26, 2019
TD Ameritrade Park | Omaha, NE

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