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2023 College World Series Bracket 2 Preview: Can Wake Break the 1-seed Curse?

The last two seasons we’ve seen the team who was clearly the best team in college baseball fail to win it all – Wake Forest hopes to end that streak this year.


There is no question the Demon Deacons have been the deepest and most consistent team in the country all season. But we also haven’t seen a number one national seed win the College World Series since 1999.


And this bracket is full of blue bloods who have the talent to knock them off.


Wake Forest (52-10)

It’s been complete domination all year as Wake Forest hasn’t lost a single series and hasn’t even lost back-to-back games.


They’ve won all five of their NCAA Tournament games while outsourcing their opponents 75-16.


One of the biggest questions for Wake Forest entering Omaha is how their offense will play in a park that is much more pitcher friendly than their home ballpark.


Brock Wilken hit 30 home runs this year and has big time power in any park. As does Nick Kurtz who hit 24.


It's not a boom or bust offense though, many of their hitters have more walks than strikeouts, including leadoff hitter Tommy Hawke who also paces the team with 13 stolen bases.


And despite pitching in such a home run field park, they also boast one of the best pitching staffs in baseball headlined by Rhett Lowder who has a 1.92 ERA in 108 innings with 131 strikeouts.


Josh Hartle struck out 11 in 6 innings of work against Alabama in the super regionals. Camden Minacci has 12 saves and 44 strikeouts in 29.2 innings, and Sean Sullivan has become a big weapon out of the bullpen for them.


Stanford (44-18)

The Cardinal continue to carry the torch for the west coast making their third straight trip to Omaha.


They always seem to get it done in dramatic fashion as they did this year by losing their second game in the regional and first game of the supers but still advancing. Their final game against Texas was a wild one that ended in a walk-off because the outfielder couldn’t find a pop-up.


But this team is super talented and deserving to be in Omaha.


The offense is led by Tommy Troy who is hitting .397 with 17 home runs and 17 stolen bases. But he’s supported by some other great hitters like Alberto Rios, Eddie Park, and Braden Montgomery.


This is a really deep lineup with six players that have 14 home runs or more this year.


The pitching side of things is where they might have some issues.


Quinn Mathews leads the staff with a 3.60 ERA in 120 innings with 152 strikeouts. He threw 156 pitches in game two of the supers to help save the bullpen for game three and he was brilliant.


If Ryan Bruno is in control he can be a huge difference-maker with his dominant stuff that helped him strike out 54 batters in 33 innings this year. Brandt Pancer and Joey Dixon are arms they’ll need to step up if they’re going to make a run in Omaha.


LSU (48-15)

LSU was the preseason darling and held the top spot for most of the season, but injuries to the pitching staff and others not performing as projected led to some struggles down the stretch.


Still, they managed to run through the regionals and super regionals without much stress.


Paul Skenes is perhaps the best college arm we’ve ever seen, and when he pitches it’s almost an automatic win for LSU. He has a 1.77 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 107 innings. And has 12 wins in 17 starts.


Ty Floyd and Thatcher Hurd are a couple of arms that will need to step up in starting roles. But the bullpen has come together nicely with Riley Cooper and Gavin Guidry playing big roles.


It’s a star-studded lineup as well with perhaps the best hitter in college baseball in Dylan Crews who has a 1.303 OPS. Backing him up is one of the best power hitters in the country in Tommy White who has 22 long balls on the year.


They have seven players with double-digit home runs, but they’re more susceptible to strikeouts than some of the other teams in this bracket.


Tennessee (43-20)

After the disappointment of missing the College World Series last year and the ups-and-downs of the 2023 season, the Volunteers reach Omaha despite having to go on the road in the regionals and super regionals.


They lost the first game in the super regionals at Southern Miss, but then came back to beat Tanner Hall in game two and then shutout the Golden Eagles in game three.


We also knew it would be the pitching that would have to carry them in 2023, and that was questionable at times during the season. But they seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.


Andrew Lindsey, Chase Dollander, Drew Beam, Chase Burns, and Seth Halvorsen lead a very deep and extremely talented pitching staff.


Dollander and Burns each have over 100 strikeouts on the season, while Beam and Lindsey have the best ERAs of those four.


The offense isn’t nearly as deadly as last year’s group, but there is still plenty of talent up-and-down with guys like Maui Ahuna, Jared Dickey, Christian Moore, Blake Burke, and Zane Denton.


Denton has had some big home runs in this postseason, including a go-ahead 3-run homer in the ninth against Clemson and a 3-run homer in game three against Southern Miss.


There is a ton of talent on this side of the bracket with 17 of the top 200 prospects in this year’s upcoming MLB Draft among these four teams. It will be exciting to see which of them rises to the occasion.

 

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