No. 1 Oregon State vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (10 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 2 Creighton vs. No. 3 Michigan (4 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 1 Oregon State (36-18-1)
Season In A Sentence: Catcher Adley Rutschman, the top prospect in this year’s draft, and a pitching staff with a 2.98 team ERA led the Beavers to a 36-18-1 overall record and a home regional, despite losing three top-40 picks in the lineup and a Hall of Famer in the dugout from last year’s national championship team.
Best Pitcher: LHP Brandon Eisert, Jr. — Eisert has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation this season, but he’s been most effective in the bullpen as a multi-inning weapon. With a record of 8-2, an ERA of 2.03 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost six, Eisert has had a very effective 2019 campaign.
Best Hitter: C Adley Rutschman, Jr. — The No. 1 player in the draft class and reigning College World Series Most Outstanding Player, it’s no surprise Rutschman is the centerpiece of the Oregon State offense. This season, Rutschman is batting a team-high .419 with 17 homers and 56 runs.
Outlook: A series loss to Southern California on the final weekend of the season probably cost Oregon State a few spots in the overall seeds, but the Beavers are hosting a regional for the third year in a row. The Beavers aren’t the juggernaut they were the last two years, but they still have one of the best pitching staffs in the country and Rutschman. That formula led the Beavers to a third-place finish in the Pac-12, and it should be enough to lead them to super regionals.
No. 2 Creighton (38-11)
Season In A Sentence: A banner season for the Bluejays ended with a 38-11 overall record, a 14-4 Big East mark that was good enough for the regular season title and a Big East Tournament championship that earned them their first regional appearance since 2012.
Best Pitcher: RHP Evan Johnson, Sr. — Johnson has been the best starting pitcher for Creighton this year, posting a 3.14 ERA through 71.2 innings. With a record of 8-2, Johnson has held the hitters he’s faced to a .199 batting average.
Best Hitter: INF Jake Holton, Jr. — Holton leads Creighton in batting average and home runs, hitting .408 and 14, respectively. Despite having the fourth-most at-bats on the team, Holton leads Creighton in hits at 77, 11 more than the next highest total on the team.
Outlook: The Bluejays rolled through the Big East this season and are more offensive than they have been in years past. That probably doesn’t play as well at pitcher-friendly Goss Stadium as it might somewhere else, but the Bluejays’ potent lineup can score runs anywhere. Creighton is also battle tested on the road and actually has a better winning percentage away from TD Ameritrade Park than it does at home. Still, traveling to Oregon State is a very tough assignment for a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in seven years.
No. 3 Michigan (41-18)
Season In A Sentence: The Wolverines were up and down throughout the season, pushing them in and forcing them out of the rankings at a few different junctures of the season, but in the end, they finished second in the Big Ten and earned an at-large bid after winning a few key games in the Big Ten Tournament against Illinois, Maryland and Nebraska.
Best Pitcher: RHP Jeff Criswell, So. — Criswell has been great for the Wolverines this season, boasting a 2.76 ERA through 81.2 innings. With a record of 6-1, Criswell has held opposing teams to a .223 batting average.
Hitter: OF Jordan Brewer, Jr. — Although Brewer has been on a cold streak recently, failing to pick up a hit in four of his last five games, the junior has been the centerpiece of the Wolverines’ offense at times. Brewer leads the Wolverines in batting average at .342 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Outlook: The Wolverines have been unable to find consistency against the best teams on their schedule this year. They’ll have to do that this weekend if they’re going to hang in a pretty tough regional. Lefthander Tommy Henry and righthander Karl Kauffmann give the Wolverines a good one-two punch on the mound, and they have a dynamic offense led by outfielder Jordan Brewer. But after going 6-10 against top-50 opponents during the regular season, they’re going to have to find another gear this weekend.
No. 4 Cincinnati (30-29)
BA 500 Prospects: None
Season In A Sentence: After a slow start to the season, Cincinnati completely turned its season around in the last two months, going 20-13 since the start of April—a run capped by the Bearcats sweeping through the American Athletic Conference Tournament to advance to regionals for the first time since 1974.
Best Pitcher: LHP Garrett Schoenle, So. — Schoenle has thrown 56 innings this season, keeping opposing hitters to just a .234 batting average. Although Schoenle leads the team in walks at 55, he also has the second most strikeouts for Cincinnati at 62.
Best Hitter: OF A.J. Bumpass, Sr. — Bumpass has the third highest batting average on his team, but leads Cincinnati in OPS at .847. The senior has hit 12 doubles, five triples and seven home runs in 207 at-bats for the Bearcats this season.
Outlook: For a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 45 years, an opening game against the defending national champions won’t be easy. But Cincinnati has plenty of momentum going into the NCAA Tournament and has to feel like it’s playing with house money at this point.