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NCAA Tournament Crystal Ball Predictions

Ryan_Kreidler_UCLA_NickWosikaGetty.jpg
Ryan Kreidler (Photo by Nick Wosika/Getty Images)

Teddy Cahill, Joe Healy and Dave Serrano, our college baseball experts, look into their crystal balls to make some NCAA Tournament predictions ahead of regionals.

Regional Winners

RegionalTeddy CahillJoe HealyDave Serrano
Los AngelesUCLAUCLAUCLA
NashvilleVanderbiltVanderbiltVanderbilt
AtlantaAuburnGeorgia TechGeorgia Tech
AthensGeorgiaFlorida StateGeorgia
FayettevilleArkansasArkansasArkansas
StarkvilleMississippi StateMississippi StateMississippi State
LouisvilleLouisvilleLouisvilleLouisville
LubbockFloridaTexas TechDallas Baptist
Oklahoma CityOklahoma StateOklahoma StateOklahoma State
GreenvilleCampbellEast CarolinaEast Carolina
StanfordStanfordUC Santa BarbaraUC Santa Barbara
OxfordOle MissIllinoisOle Miss
Baton RougeLSUArizona StateArizona State
Chapel HillNorth CarolinaTennesseeTennessee
MorgantownTexas A&MWest VirginiaWest Virginia
CorvallisOregon StateMichiganMichigan

 

Eight for Omaha

Teddy CahillJoe HealyDave Serrano
ArkansasArkansasArkansas
GeorgiaArizona StateEast Carolina
LouisvilleEast CarolinaGeorgia
Mississippi StateGeorgia TechMississippi State
North CarolinaMississippi StateOklahoma State
Oklahoma StateOklahoma StateTennessee
UCLAUCLAUCLA
VanderbiltVanderbiltVanderbilt

National Champion

UCLA — The Bruins are the most complete team in the country. They have the best pitching staff and defense, and this isn’t the UCLA team that won the 2013 national title while hitting .250 as a team in the height of college baseball’s dead-bat era. This group has serious offensive firepower. They’ve been consistent all season long, not losing a series despite playing a punishing schedule. A College World Series finals against Vanderbilt would be an incredible matchup, but one that UCLA should win. Teddy Cahill

Vanderbilt — From beginning to end this season, Vanderbilt has looked the part of a national title favorite, and it will go into the postseason piping hot, having won its last six SEC series and the SEC Tournament title. With enviable lineup depth, headlined by national player of the year candidate J.J. Bleday and third baseman Austin Martin, and a solid pitching staff led by veteran righthanders Drake Fellows and Patrick Raby, the Commodores are a team devoid of obvious weaknesses. — Joe Healy

UCLA — With a season long of consistency and as much of a balanced team that there is in the country, UCLA is my pick as the national champion, beating Vanderbilt in the championship series. It will be an epic showdown of two great teams, who are both led by very good coaching staffs. — Dave Serrano

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Surprise Team


Campbell
— The Camels are a part of a wide-open Greenville Regional, where any of East Carolina, North Carolina State or Campbell has a real shot at winning. The Camels already own wins this year against both ECU and NC State, and after playing in regionals a year ago, nothing about this weekend should overwhelm them. They have legit pro talent in outfielder Matthew Barefoot and righthander Seth Johnson and plenty of experience throughout the team. Cinderella couldn’t have asked for a better ball to go to. — Teddy Cahill

Illinois — The Illini, a team with an intriguing mix of experienced veterans and young, breakout stars, are a group eager to make their own mark in the postseason now that it has been a full four years since that magical 2015 season in Champaign saw them win 27 straight games and reach super regionals. This type of tough, battle-tested team could be a tough test for a team like Ole Miss that has struggled at times this season to find consistency. — Joe Healy

Tennessee — The Vols stumbled in the first round in SEC Tournament, losing to Auburn, but they may have learned how to handle postseason baseball. They have a strong pitching staff, which had its struggles at times in the second half, but is still deep in arms. The offense has been much more consistent lately, and I believe, even though Tennessee will be on road, it received a favorable draw in the Chapel Hill Regional and a potential super regional matchup with the Atlanta Regional, where the Vols strengths can propel them into Omaha. — Dave Serrano

Breakout Star


Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt
— Much like Adley Rutschman a year ago, Martin’s excellence has gotten a bit overshadowed this season at Vanderbilt. He’ll have a chance to change that this month. The sophomore is hitting .414/.504/.613 with six home runs and 17 stolen bases and can impact the game in many different ways. On a team full of big bats, Martin is the catalyst at the top of the lineup that makes everything go for the Commodores. — Teddy Cahill

Alec Burleson, UTL, East Carolina — Burleson, a two-way player, has quietly been a monster for the Pirates this season. At the plate, he's hitting .370/.392/.589 with 21 doubles, nine home runs, 54 RBIs and only 12 strikeouts in 219 at-bats. On the mound, in a swing role, he has a 2.98 ERA, 54 strikeouts and a .236 opponent average in 51.1 innings. With all that he brings to the table, Burleson is the type of player who can put a team on his back for an entire weekend. — Joe Healy

Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee — If Tennessee is going to be this year’s team to make a Cinderella run to Omaha, it’s going to need a healthy return of Crochet, who broke his jaw two weeks ago when he was hit by a line drive. With a healthy return and the opportunity to showcase his talents on the big stage, I believe the country will witness someone who will be one of the top lefthanders in college baseball next year. — Dave Serrano

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