The field is set for the 2021 Men’s College World Series.
The final two games of the super regionals — Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia and Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State — wrapped up on Monday, with the Cavaliers and the Bulldogs punching their tickets to Omaha to play for a national championship.
There has already been plenty of chaos in the postseason to get to this point. No. 1 Arkansas was taken down by unranked NC State in the super regionals. No. 6 TCU was knocked out in the regional round, as were four other top seeds in the original bracket.
Yet for all the chaos, the field is still loaded with teams viewed coming into the playoffs as among the best in the nation. Only NC State and Virginia come in as teams ranked outside the top 16 at the start of the playoffs.
Here’s all you need to know about the 2021 Men’s College World Series.
MORE: Full TV schedule to watch 2021 College World Series
Who is in the College World Series in 2021?
No. 2 Texas (47-15)
No team left in the 2021 field has won as many national championships as Texas. The Longhorns are looking to add to their six titles, tied for second with LSU behind only USC’s 12 championships. The No. 2 team in the nation has carved through the playoffs to this point, winning all three regional games and both super regional games against South Florida. The Longhorns have been held to single-digit runs just once and have yet to allow a team to score more than four runs in a game as they’ve outscored opponents 49-12 during the NCAA playoffs.
And it’s no surprise they’ve dominated as this Texas team is loaded. It has one of the best starting pitchers in the country in Ty Madden, who has struck out 119 batters and posted a 2.41 ERA in 100.2 innings of work, to lead a group of arms that has recorded a collective 2.89 ERA this season, the lowest among Division I schools. But there’s more to Texas than just the pitching. Four batters in the everyday lineup are batting over .300 — second baseman Mitchell Daly, designated hitter Ivan Melendez, third baseman Cam Williams and first baseman Zach Zubia — and three of them have clubbed double-digit home run totals — Melendez, Williams and Zubia. There’s also some speed with center fielder Mike Antico already up to 39 stolen bases and left fielder Eric Kennedy sitting at 17.
No. 3 Tennessee (50-16)
Tennessee just finished ahead in a tough SEC East at the end of the regular season, and had a strong SEC Tournament performance that came to an end in the finals against the top-ranked team in the country in Arkansas, but it’s been a perfect run since that extra-inning championship loss. The Volunteers swept through the Knoxville Regional and took down No. 14 LSU in two straight games in the Knoxville Super Regionals, winning 4-2 and then 15-6 to knock out the Tigers.
The Volunteers have gotten it done on both sides of the ball. Blade Tidwell has emerged as a tough arm to face down the stretch with a 3.57 ERA this season and 87 strikeouts in 95.2 innings per work. He’s led a pitching staff that is second in Division I with a 3.72 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has the third-lowest walk rate in Division I at 2.44 BB/9. Sean Hunley has made a team-high 33 appearances and pitched to a 2.92 ERA and nine saves. The lineup can do a little bit of everything, with high on-base guys like shortstop Liam Spence (.477 OBP) and designated hitter Pete Derkay (.403 OBP), some power from bats like right fielder Jordan Beck (15 homers) and first baseman Luc Lipcius (15 homers) and some speed from second baseman Max Ferguson (15 stolen bases) and center fielder Drew Gilbert (10 stolen bases).
No. 4 Vanderbilt
There is as much hype surrounding the Commodores as there is for any team in the College World Series. And why not? After a disappointing showing in the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt swept through the Nashville Regional and the Nashville Super Regional, using its dynamic duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter to each go seven innings with double-digit strikeout totals against East Carolina to send the team to Omaha.
The one-two punch of Leiter and Rocker is simply unfair. They’re the consensus top college pitching prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft. Leiter has an ERA of 2.16 with 156 strikeouts in 96 innings of work, while Rocker has a 2.46 ERA with 155 strikeouts in 106 innings. The two lead a pitching staff that has the second-highest strikeout-per-nine rate in Division I at 11.8 K/9. And top-to-bottom, the lineup is dangerous. Freshman center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. has walked 42 times to just 36 walks while batting .356 and swiping a Division I-leading 46 bases this season as the leadoff hitter. The next two batters in the order — shortstop Carter Young and first baseman Dominic Keegan — each have 14 homers or more with Keegan batting .361 with a .673 slugging percentage and Young adding nine steals to his team-high 15 homers. And under coach Tim Corbin, who guided his team to the 2019 College World Series title, this Commodores team looks like a potent threat to repeat two years later.
No. 5 Arizona (45-16)
When Arizona has been clicking this season, the Wildcats have been as tough to take down as any team in the nation. Twice during the year, Arizona had win streaks of at least nine games. The Wildcats then proceeded to dominate the Tucson Regional, winning all three games to move on to the super regionals. Returning to Tucson, there was no shortage of runs as Arizona won the first game against Ole Miss 9-3, lost the second game 12-3 and won the third and decisive matchup 16-3 to punch a spot in the College World Series.
The Pac-12’s regular-season champion has had one of the nation’s best offenses this season. The team .327 batting average ranks fifth among Division I teams and the 526 runs scored lead all teams. Center fielder Donta Williams has an on-base percentage nearly at .500 while designated hitter Jacob Berry and catcher Daniel Susac each have slugging percentages above .580. Arizona’s bullpen has four relievers with more than 20 innings and an ERA below 3.00, while Chandler Murphy has been a valuable swing arm, starting and relieving and working to a perfect 7-0 record and a 3.63 ERA in 62 innings of work. There’s maybe no better lineup than that of the Wildcats in the College World Series this year.
No. 9 Stanford (38-15)
No. 6 Texas Tech handled the Lubbock Regional and looked like it would be a challenge to take down on the road to the College World Series. Enter Stanford. At the Lubbock Super Regional, the Cardinal crushed the Red Raiders, winning the first game 15-3 and the second game 9-0. That came after Stanford staved off an underdog in UC Irvine, who defeated the Cardinal in the first finals game before Stanford came back to win the final elimination game 11-8.
Stanford has one of the most dynamic batters in the College World Series in center fielder Brock Jones. The sophomore has a slash line of .302/.452/.620 with 16 homers and 14 stolen bases, while driving in a team-leading 54 RBIs and a team-high 53 runs scored. Jones was the sparkplug in the final super regional win, blasting three home runs to help send his team to Omaha. Second baseman Tim Tawa has been a similarly exciting player to watch as he’s batting .281 with 11 homers and 13 stolen bases. Ace Brendan Beck has emerged as a dominant arm for the Cardinal, pitching to a 2.96 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 100.1 innings and a near-perfect 9-1 record. Opponents have hit just a measly .195 against him so far this season.
No. 7 Mississippi State (45-16)
Yet another team from the vaunted SEC reaching the College World Series, the Bulldogs brought out the bats against Notre Dame to finish off the Fighting Irish in the Super Regionals, defeating them 11-7 in the third game to reach the College World Series. Even against the No. 10 team in the nation, it was no surprise to see Mississippi State light up the box score as it won 9-8 in the first game of the Starkville Super Regional after sweeping through the regional with at least six runs scored in each game.
It has been the latest surge for a Mississippi State team that has been up and down near the end of the season. It ended the regular season by sweeping a tough Alabama team before it was knocked out of the SEC Tournament in resounding fashion, losing the first game to Florida 13-1 and the second game to Tennessee 12-2. But when this Bulldog team is clicking, it is one of the best in the nation. Will Bednar has given Mississippi State a true ace as he’s considered a top MLB Draft prospect as he’s pitched to a 3.53 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 74 innings, while compiling a 7-1 record, and Christian MacLeod has shown flashes of brilliance as the No. 2 starter. The pitching staff as a whole leads the nation with a 12.4 K/9. The lineup starts with one of the best bats in the nation in right fielder Tanner Allen, who is batting over. 390 with double-digit homers and more than 60 RBIs. Center fielder Rowdey Jordan has been another dynamic bat with a batting average over .320 and reliever Landon Sims has been a wipeout closer with 10 saves, 81 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA in 42.1 innings.
NC State (35-18)
The Wolfpack pulled off the biggest upset so far this year when, on Sunday, it took the elimination game against No. 1 Arkansas to eliminate the Razorbacks. Arkansas won the SEC regular season and tournament titles and finished the year 50-13, having lost only one series all year: the super regionals. But NC State had proven coming into the series that it could hang with any team. It reached the ACC Championship final, though it fell to Duke, but wrapped up the year on fire, having swept then-No. 16 Pitt and taken two of three from then-No. 9 Florida State. After the ACC tournament, NC State proceeded to sweep through the Ruston Regional, beating Alabama and taking both games against No. 17 Louisiana Tech.
Simply put, this is a team that hits. Left fielder Jonny Butler, center fielder Tyler McDonough, designated hitter Terrell Tatum and first baseman Austin Murr are all batting over .300, while six total batters on the team have mashed double-digit home runs. Butler, McDonough and Tatum have proven to be dual-threats for the offense, with each batter having hit at least 11 home runs and swiped at least 13 bases. The issue has been more with keeping the opposition from scoring. The team has a collective 5.12 ERA this season, and only starter Sam Highfill (3.98) has an ERA below 4.00, but the pitching has steadily improved as the season has gone on and has shown it can get the job done against tough lineups.
The last time UVA reached the College World Series, the Cavaliers defeated Vanderbilt to win the 2015 national championship. They’re back in 2021, and have done it not as one of the top ranked teams, but as an underdog. Virginia lost in the ACC semifinals to Duke after finishing third in the Coastal Division, but did eliminate Notre Dame from the playoffs along the way. The Cavaliers then lost the first game of the Columbia Regional to South Carolina before winning four straight, beating the Gamecocks and twice beating No. 15 Old Dominion. They faced similar odds in the Columbia Super Regional, losing the first game to Dallas Baptist before winning the next two elimination games.
UVA hasn’t been a flashy team this season, but it has gotten the job done when it needs to. The Cavaliers were led at the dish by outfielder Kyle Teel, who hit a go-ahead grand slam against Dallas Baptist in Game 3 of the super regional. He has hit over .300 this season with nine home runs as he has made an early impression on the Cavaliers as a freshman. On the mound, senior Andrew Abbott has continued his standout UVA career in his final season with a 3.04 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 100.2 innings of work. If he’s on the mound, he’ll be a challenge for any team to beat.
College World Series odds
Odds according to DraftKings Sportsbook, on June 15, 2021.
College World Series bracket 2021
The four teams in each bracket will face off in a double-elimination tournament the same style as the regionals to decide which two teams will move on to the College World Series finals.
Once there, the winners from each bracket will face off in a best-of-three series to declare a national champion.
Here’s a look at how the brackets are shaping up in Omaha.
|No. 4 Vanderbilt||—||—|
|No. 5 Arizona||—||—|
|No. 9 Stanford||—||—|
|No. 2 Texas||—||—|
|No. 3 Tennessee||—||—|
|No. 7 Mississippi State||—||—|
When & where is the College World Series?
- Date: June 19-30
- TV Network: ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
- Location: TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska
After the College World Series was called off in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, baseball will be back in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska in 2021.
Omaha has hosted the College World Series dating back to 1950, and TD Ameritrade has been the home ballpark since June 2011.
ESPN networks will continue their coverage of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships through the College World Series. A schedule for the games has not been released yet.