Pick: Texas Tech
Texas Tech Red Raiders (+700 to win CWS)
Texas Tech finished the year 11th in the RPI. The Red Raiders also rank in the top 20 in team batting average, on-base percentage and scoring. They played Michigan three times during the regular season and won 11-2, 10-3 and 8-5 in Lubbock. Their lineup features infielder Josh Jung (.342, 56 RBIs), who was drafted eighth overall in this year's MLB draft.
Michigan Wolverines (+1200 to win CWS)
Michigan comes into the CWS with the most success historically of the eight teams remaining. The Wolverines have won two national titles, though those came in 1953 and 1962. This will be Michigan's eighth total appearance in the CWS and first since 1984. The team ended the season ranked 39th in the RPI, averaging 6.8 runs per game and with a team ERA of 3.49 (14th best in the nation). The Wolverines knocked off No. 1 seed UCLA in the Super Regional to reach the CWS.
Arkansas Razorbacks (+300 to win CWS)
Arkansas came so close to winning its first CWS title last year, when it was one out away from clinching the championship, then slipped up to allow Oregon State to force a Game 3, which the Beavers won. Now with their 10th CWS appearance, the Razorbacks are back with a vengeance. Arkansas finished the regular season ranked No. 6 in the RPI with a 41-17 record. The team is in the top 25 in batting average (.299), on-base percentage (.398), scoring (7.5 runs per game), strikeouts per nine innings (9.6) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.62).
Florida State Seminoles (+1000 to win CWS)
Florida State is making its 23rd appearance in the World Series, but the Seminoles have never experienced ultimate CWS glory. Head coach Mike Martin is in his 40th and final season with Florida State, and this CWS will be his 17th shot at a title. The Seminoles came in at No. 50 in the RPI and earned a No. 3 seed in their own regional. To advance, Florida State scored 35 runs over three regional games, then swept LSU in the Super Regional.
Vanderbilt Commodores (+285 to win CWS)
Vanderbilt has made the World Series four times since 2011 and won the title in 2014. The Commodores finished the regular season No. 1 in the RPI, with a 49-10 record, and are the fourth-best team in the nation in batting average, fielding percentage and strikeouts per nine innings. They also rank fifth in scoring and seventh in on-base percentage. Vanderbilt will play rival Louisville in the opening round.
Louisville Cardinals (+900 to win CWS)
Louisville is searching for its first CWS title in five appearances since 2007. The Cardinals finished No. 9 in the RPI rankings, with a 43-15 record. Louisville lost a home game to Vanderbilt 6-2 in early May. The Cardinals are fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (7.2), 15th in scoring (7.6 runs per game), seventh in strikeouts per nine innings and 29th in team ERA at 3.70. Louisville obliterated East Carolina (14-1, 12-0) in the Super Regional and scored 50 runs over its last five games. The bottom four of the batting lineup also hit .346 with 23 RBI in those five games. The Cardinals are currently on fire and would love nothing more than to beat their rival.
Pick: Mississippi State
Mississippi State Bulldogs (+300)
The Bulldogs have yet to win a CWS title and hope to accomplish the feat in the school’s 11th appearance. Mississippi State ended the season fourth in RPI, with a 46-13 record for first-year head coach Chris Lemonis. The Bulldogs are fifth in batting average (.316), 19th in team ERA (3.59), 13th in hits allowed per nine innings (7.55) and 16th in on-base percentage (.399). They’re also eighth in scoring (8.2 runs per game) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.8).
Auburn Tigers (+1200)
Auburn will make its fifth CWS appearance and first since 1997. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 33-25 record and a No. 19 RPI ranking. Auburn played a three-game series in Starkville in late March, winning the first game against Mississippi State 6-5 before dropping the next two 15-2 and 20-15. The Tigers earned a bid in the World Series by upsetting Georgia Tech in the Atlanta Regional, then taking down North Carolina in three games in the Super Regional.