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NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 30 College World Series - Coastal Carolina v Arizona
Coastal Carolina celebrates after winning its first College World Series title in 2016.
Photo by John S. Peterson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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The Road to Omaha: 2023 NCAA Baseball Tournament Preview

If your a baseball fan, your favorite time of the year is finally happening.

Starting today, 64 teams will start to chase their dreams of making it to Omaha for a chance to play in the College World Series.

Only 16 teams will advance to the Super Regionals and only eight can advance to Omaha. With the Road to Omaha starting today, here’s a preview of the tournament as a whole with predictions of each regional as well as early predictions for who will advance to the College World Series

Easiest Road to Omaha: LSU

There’s a chance that the Tigers lucked out in its draw. LSU has played two of the teams in this regional, Sam Houston and Tulane. The Tigers beat Sam Houston 16-4 in the Round Rock Classic on February 26 and beat Tulane in New Orleans 11-5 on April 11.

The other team in the Baton Rouge Regional is Oregon State. Although they have two high-caliber players like Travis Bazzana and Garret Forrester as well as a solid pitching staff, the Beavers will likely go up against LSU pitcher and Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year Paul Skenes. Yeah, about that, Skenes has a 1.89 ERA and leads the nation in strikeouts with 167 punchouts.

If LSU wins out, they will face the winner of the Lexington Regional which consists of Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana and Ball State. Although all of those teams can pose a challenge to LSU, it will be tough to beat a very talented LSU team in front of a frenzied crowd at Alex Box Stadium that hasn’t hosted a regional in four years.

Toughest Road to Omaha: Florida

Although I expect Florida to get out of its regional to move on to the College World Series, the Gainesville Regional is an absolute juggernaut of a regional. The Gators have to get past second-seeded UCONN (43-15) and third-seeded Texas Tech (39-21).

UCONN is a dangerous team because they have talent all over its roster and they have an older team who has a lot of postseason experience. The Huskies have not missed postseason play since 2017 and last season they won the College Park Regional over Maryland before losing to Stanford in the super regionals. UCONN would be hosting had they not lost against Xavier in the Big East Championship game.

Although the Red Raiders have had their pitching struggles, the Red Raiders are one of the most dangerous hitting teams in the country. The Red Raiders are in the top 20 in almost every single batting stat line and are very patient at the plate as they are sixth in walks.

Even if they have to win that regional, they would have to face the winner of the Columbia Regional, which is also an extremely difficult regional

South Carolina (39-19), who hosts the Columbia Regional and is the 15th national seed, already swept Florida this season. The second seed in the Columbia Regional, Campbell (44-13), is a very talented team and was robbed from hosting a regional by the tournament committee. You also shouldn’t sleep on third-seeded NC State, which has a history of being a giant killer.

Toughest to Beat Right Now: Clemson

Several teams are coming into postseason play that are playing on fire. However, Clemson may be the hottest team in the country. The Tigers have won 23 out of its last 25, including its last 16. Clemson went undefeated in the ACC Tournament, defeating Virginia Tech, Boston College, North Carolina and Miami.

Clemson also has an excellent skipper in first-year head coach Dan Bakich, who led Michigan to the College World Series Final in 2019. In his first season, Bakich led Clemson to a 43-17 record, an ACC championship and the fourth national seed in the NCAA tournament, its highest seed since 2006 when the Tigers were the No.1 overall seed.

Although I don’t think it will win its regional over Tennessee, you can’t ignore how well Clemson has been playing as of late.

Dark Horse: Dallas Baptist

This is the year Dallas Baptist makes its first step into becoming a perennial contender to make it to the College World Series. Even though many casual fans may have never heard of Dallas Baptist, the Patriots have been quietly growing into becoming a powerhouse in college baseball.

Dallas Baptist is led by head coach Dan Heefner, who has been at the school since 2008. Under his tenure, the Patriots have never had a losing season and have had 10 40-plus win seasons. The Patriots have also won two regionals, with the most recent being in 2021.

Dallas Baptist is one of the best-hitting teams in the country. Every single member of its batting lineup has recorded at least one triple. They also have five players on the team that have double-digit home runs. Catcher Grant Jay and designated hitter Ethan Mann have both hit 20 home runs.

If any Dallas Baptist batter gets on base, opposing catchers have to be on notice as the Patriots are 10th nationally in stolen bases. Five players on Dallas Baptist’s lineup have 10 or more steals to their name and two players have at least 20 steals.

Along with its hitting prowess Dallas Baptist, Dallas Baptist has one of the best pitching staffs in the country. The Patriots are sixth in strikeouts (613), 13th in FIP (4.489), 14th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.5) and 24th in ERA (4.35).

Dallas Baptist has great depth in its pitching rotation. Its pitching unit is led by starting pitcher Ryan Johnson (8-3), who has a 3.87 ERA and 109 strikeouts. Dallas Baptist’s closer, Kyle Amnedt, has a 1.82 ERA and is tied for the most saves among active tournament pitchers with 12.

Projected Regional Winners

Winston Salem (Wake Forest): Wake Forest

Gainesville (Florida): Florida

Fayetteville (Arkansas): Arkansas

Clemson: Tennessee

Baton Rouge (LSU): LSU

Nashville (Vanderbilt): Vanderbilt

Charlottesville (Virginia): Virginia

Stanford: Stanford

Coral Gables (Miami): Texas

Conway (Coastal Carolina): Duke

Stillwater (Oklahoma State): Dallas Baptist

Lexington (Kentucky): West Virginia

Auburn: Southern Miss

Terre Haute (Indiana State): Iowa

Columbia (South Carolina): Campbell

Tuscaloosa (Alabama): Alabama

Projected Teams to Advance to the College World Series

Wake Forest (No.1 Overall Seed)

Florida (No.2 Overall Seed)

Arkansas (No.3 Overall Seed)

LSU (No.5 Overall Seed)

Virginia (No.7 Overall Seed)

Dallas Baptist