The college baseball season is just about two months old, and that means we are a little over one month from selections being announced for the 2023 DI baseball championships on Monday, May 29. The field of 64 is sure to include a number of usual suspects and unexpected names, but who will be making the trip to Omaha in June?
Predicting the eight teams at the MCWS is about as uncertain a task as there is in sports. The field could flip with one or two poor performances in the early rounds, even after a stellar regular season (just ask last year's Tennessee team). It's like trying to predict the Final Four in college hoops around the beginning of February, but that doesn't mean we can't try.
Without knowing how the bracket will shake out, these predictions are based on how these teams have looked thus far and how well I think they're set up for a postseason run. Many of these teams should avoid each other in the regionals, though the end of the regular season and conference tournaments could shake that up as well.
That being said, here are the eight teams I've slated for an Omaha berth (in alphabetical order):
🔮: The field of 64, predicted by D1Baseball
2023 Men's College World Series picks
The Fightin' Camels! This pick is as much with my heart as with my head. Campbell has been one of the country's best offensive teams in the country all season with a top-5 slugging and on-base percentage and team home runs. Before you count them out for a weak schedule, keep in mind the Camels have two nonconference wins over No. 9 East Carolina and an upcoming matchup with No. 13 North Carolina in early May.
The Camels have made some noise in the postseason in recent years, on the doorstep of a super regional in each of the last two. I believe this is the year the Camels crash the party in Omaha.
Aside from a certain purple-and-gold conference rival, there's a case to be made for Florida as the second-best team in the country so far. The Gators have one of the most well-rounded teams in baseball and can beat their opponents in any number of ways. Their favorite means of winning is to simply outscore the opponent.
Jac Caglianone, one of the Gators' two midseason candidates for the Golden Spikes Award, leads the country in home runs (19) and has — quite literally — powered the Florida offense as they have yet to lose an SEC series so far this season.
This one should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. The Tigers have been the No. 1 team in baseball since preseason and have given little to no reason for us to believe they aren't. Any team hoping to win it all will likely have to go through LSU at some point, and they'll have to get through the stellar arms on the mound and the country's most high-powered lineup (special mention to Dylan Crews who is flirting with a .500 batting average).
The Tigers have an unmatched level of talent, and while that doesn't guarantee success in baseball, what we've seen from LSU in 2023 gives us no reason to believe they can't win the Men's College World Series.
The Gamecocks are well-rounded, combining their slugging offense (DI leaders in home runs) with a top-three team ERA in the country. Gavin Casas and freshman sensation Ethan Petry are among DI leaders in the long ball, and South Carolina's arms are great at limiting the long ball. The Gamecocks rising into the upper echelon of DI teams has not been a complete surprise, but in a conference as fiercely competitive as the SEC, their outlook for Omaha looks strong.
🔥: Ethan Petry's freshman season is drawing Kris Bryant comparisons
My lone pick from the Big 12 — I think the Longhorns are best poised to make a postseason run than anyone else in the conference. Texas' pitching staff has proven to be the best in the Big 12 with a team ERA under four and behind only Oklahoma State's in total strikeouts. Add in an opponent batting average under .240, and I think the Texas arms can lead the team to Omaha despite a less-than-stellar offense.
After all, good pitching beats good hitting, more often than not.
On a good day, the Vandy Boys can score with just about anyone, but their pitching is what will get them to Omaha. Opponents are hitting just barely over .200 against the Commodores this season, a mark that means although the offense can stagnate at times, run support is not as vital to team success as it may be with others on this list.
The SEC is a gauntlet (not breaking any news here), and although other contenders like Tennessee and Arkansas were also in consideration, my pick to reach Omaha among this group is Vandy.
The first inclusion from the ACC, the Cavaliers have put together an impressive overall season behind a lineup that leads the country in batting average (.336) but isn't reliant on the long ball. The Hoos lead the conference in extra-base hits and total runs but are middle of the road in terms of home runs. It's not quite small ball, but Virginia is hard to strike out (lowest total in the ACC). On top of that, the Cavs get on-base better than anyone else in the ACC.
This is where the good pitching argument is strongest for me. Combine the lowest team ERA and WHIP, highest total strikeouts and most Ks per 9 in baseball, and there's a pitching staff that will be the toughest to beat come June. Scoring on the Demon Deacons has been close to impossible for over a month — the last time anyone scored more than five runs on Wake Forest was a day before Selection Sunday in college hoops.
Aside from the SEC powerhouses in LSU and Florida, I think I'm most confident in the Deacs to reach Omaha.