Any good preseason prediction piece can’t just be straight chalk. If you want to see which teams we think have the best shot at making it to Omaha, look no further than our projected Field of 64 that we released last week. Every season offers at least a few surprise teams in Omaha, so here we take our best stab at striking gold.
John’s (@johnny_omaha_) Picks
#1 Florida, #2 UCLA, #3 Texas Tech, #4 Vanderbilt, #5 Ole Miss, #9 TCU, #10 Virginia, #17 UCSB
Depending on how some major 2021 storylines play out, my eight for Omaha could go several different directions. Does the ACC’s depth help it get more Regional hosts this year, or does its lack of dominant frontrunners hamper its chances at multiple top eight seeds? Will the possibility of COVID-induced absences make pitching depth even more important than in years past?
For now, I like teams with pitching depth, which was the major guiding principle in my selections. I went all chalk with my top five picks, but after that, I found teams with interesting pitching staffs. TCU’s returning rotation includes two fourth-year guys and one fifth-year guy, and there are plenty of young arms that will compete for spots in the rotation. Virginia’s Savino, Abbott, McGarry, and Vasil are a great group to build a rotation around, and UCSB’s Boone, Torra, and McGreevy comprise the second best rotation on the West Coast (behind UCLA’s).
In the same theme, a team like South Carolina may be a sleeper. The Gamecocks could still be a year or two away from serious Omaha contention, but a string of good recruiting classes has South Carolina trending in the right direction.
Kyle’s (@kylemckelv) Picks
#1 Florida (over #21 Arizona State), #3 Texas Tech (over #16 ECU), #4 Vanderbilt (over Coastal Carolina), #7 Louisville (over #8 Mississippi State), #11 Arizona (over Texas A&M), #13 LSU (over Pepperdine), #19 Wake Forest (over #5 Ole Miss), #23 NC State (over #10 Virginia)
I went a little different route from John in that I chose the teams directly from our Projected Field of 64. I tried to not pick the chalk picks because it rarely happens that way, but it is also hard to not pick the top ranked teams because they are ranked that highly for a reason. Pitching depth is very important, but I also like teams with electric offense, like that of #19 Wake Forest. Their murderer’s row of bats includes Bobby Seymour, Brendan Tinsman, Chris Lanzili, and Shane Muntz should strike fear into opposing pitchers and coaches. In the same division, NC State’s bullpen is one of the ACC’s best and should provide the depth teams need to get to Omaha.
LSU always seems to make their way to Omaha, and this year, I think they’ll find their way there off the back of a well-rounded team that has a complete pitching staff and young, talented position players. Miami is a team to look out for on the way to Omaha this year and in the future; they are young, very talented, and well-coached.