I'm only going to preview our side of the bracket, because it's just silly to look on the other side. It's two tournaments going on at once, honestly, until the final series. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
NC State Wolfpack
Record: 44-14 (19-10), 2nd in ACC Atlantic
Odds of Winning CWS: 5.4%
*According to boydsworld.com ISR-Based Probabilities
LSU's odds of winning are 21.0%, third in the field to Oregon St and UNC. Looking at the ISR probabilities, there are three heavy favorites and then five other teams all essentially even. The only team I'd really call a longshot to win the title is Indiana, who has the lowest probability of winning the title at 2.4%. This is where we say they don't play the games on paper.
Previous Trips to Omaha: 1968
This is the Wolfpack's first CWS trip in the modern era of college baseball, though they did make the trip back in the 60s. They had a pretty decent run, going 2-2 and making the semifinals by beating Texas before finally bowing out to USC. Because that's what happened in that era, you kept playing until you lost to USC.
By this point of the season, we all know how I feel about old-fashioned cartoon logos. They are about a billion times better than the generic, focus-group tested, bland blobs we have today. Back then, logos seemed to have only one criteria: does it look cool? Now, it's all about synergy or cross-branding or whatever. A logo like this would never exist today, which is a shame. Cartoon logos rocked.
John Edwards (presidential candidate, philanderer)
Robert Gibbs (former White House Press Secretary)
Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (chief of Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore)
Hisham Qandil (Prime Minister of Egypt)
Hugh Shelton (former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Donald Blitzer (inventor of the plasma television)
Zach Galifianakis (Between Two Ferns)
Scott McCreery (American Idol winner)
John Tesh (expelled his junior year)
James Owens (CEO of Caterpillar, Inc.)
Jeff Williams (COO of Apple)
Bill Cowher (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Dr. Jerry Punch (the only guy who can get me to watch NASCAR)
Russell Wilson (Wally Pipp'ed Matt Flynn)
Joan Benoit (won first ever women's Olympic marathon in 1984)
David Thompson (Michael Jordan's basketball idol)
Pretentious Music Video:
North Carolina is home to a pretty vibrant music scene, particularly Chapel Hill. Of course, Raleigh is not Chapel Hill and I'm sure they resent their cooler sister city right down the road. Hey, at least you aren't Durham. But this is still an easy choice for me, taking a non-Chapel Hill North Carolina band. One of my very first dates with the Posette was a trip to Austin to see SXSW. There, with an assist from a Village Voice photographer who thought we were a cute couple, we snuck in the back gate of a packed club to see the Avett Brothers for the first time.* We instantly fell in love with the band, and the Avetts are sort of "our band" in our relationship. Our first dance at our wedding was an Avett Brothers song, and we see them pretty much every time they come to Texas. We're big fans.
*The Avetts weren't the primary draw, as they were still a smallish cowpunk band from NC. The club was packed to see the Wrens and Cursive. Both of whom were awesome as well.
So, really, it's just a matter of picking out the perfect song for the Wolfpack. Well, I'd like to spread positive vibes in the name of good sportsmanship, but you know that's not really how I roll. So, why kid ourselves? Dedicated to the Wolfpack, their song is Die Die Die by the Avett Brothers.
LHP Carlos Rodon 9-2, 3.19 ERA, 118.1 IP, 170/42 K/BB
RHP Ethan Ogburn 5-3, 2.70 ERA, 60.0 IP, 38/14 K/BB
LHP Brad Stone 3-2, 5.28 ERA, 58.0 IP, 59/22 K/BB
Carlos Rodon is NCSU's Aaron Nola. He was a Golden Spikes Award finalist as a freshman, and while his sophomore campaign hasn't been quite as dominant, he's still one of the top pro prospects for next year's draft. A K/9 rate of nearly 13.0 is off the charts great. But here's the good news: LSU won't face him. Rodon will likely pitch against UNC, meaning that if LSU plays NCSU in the second game, there won't be someone quite so scary on the hill. Though it's not like Ogburn is some pushover. Still, the Wolfpack are primed to play spoilers for the hated Tar Heels. All they need is their All-World pitcher to shut down the UNC bats and get State into the winner's bracket. Never underestimate the powerful motivation of hatred.
SS Trea Turner 378/460/571
OF Jake Fincher 327/412/370
1B Tarran Senay 291/371/471
NCSU likes to run. A lot. And unlike many teams who like to run, they are actually good at it. The Wolfpack stole 107 bases on 141 attempts, and while they like to bunt, they do keep it to reasonable levels. Thisisn't a team that runs because they can't generate offense any other way, this is a team that runs because they are genuinely good at it, and it supplements the hitters. Senay and Turner combined for 15 homers, just over half of the team's season total of 29. Those are the two guys who can hurt you with one swing, though there is some decent gap power scattered throughout the lineup. Ty Ross is good at controlling the running game, but he will be severely tested in a game against the Wolfpack.
No one in Omaha is Tiger Bait, really. This is a top ten team lead by a guy who will be cashing a multi-million dollar check in a year. Every team is good, and every team is playing great baseball right now. That's how you get to Omaha. It's hard to fluke your way through two weekends.
But, in a way, NCSU are LSU's best friends on this side of the bracket. The Wolfpack isn't as good without their ace, and LSU won't have to face him, which helps (though the reverse is true, NCSU won't have to face Nola). UNC is the #1 overall seed, and they didn't just draw a stud pitcher, they drew a hated rival who wants nothing more than to crush their dreams. It's the worst possible matchup for the Tar Heels, as there will be precisely zero intimidation factor. Given UNC's propensity for extra innings game, maybe the two teams will weaken each other and burn up the bullpen so whoever LSU gets in the next game will be a bit drained from Sunday's tilt. One can hope.
Still, NCSU is a team that puts the ball in play, puts runners in motion, and forces the defense to make plays. All year, those are the kind of teams LSU eats alive. LSU's defense is so strong, they live to take those outs you give them. LSU wants you to put pressure on the defense, because the defense is the team's biggest strengths. Put the ball in play. Make LSU make plays. That's what we want.