The 2012 NCAA College World Series will begin on Friday, June 15th, in Omaha, Nebraska. What are the big questions that need to be answered? Can the South Carolina Gamecocks win their 3rd straight title? Can Florida State get their 1st title on their 20th appearance? Can Florida live up to the expectations placed on them? Can Stony Brook continue to shock the nation and make a run at the title?
Let’s take a look at the opening matchups and what I think about the teams and how far they can go.
Stony Brook (52-13) vs. #2 UCLA (47-14) @ 5pm 6/15
Stony Brook came to Florida from New York a big underdog and knocked out Miami and Central Florida to advance to the Super Regional where they were expected to go down to LSU. Except they forgot to tell LSU that. This is SBU’s first appearance in the College World Series but these guys are not going to let it overwhelm them. They are good. They have the bats to stay with anyone in the series and their pitching has some major league arms on it. They have the highest overall team batting average (.335) in the series and will get on base. They have serious talent and will get deep in the tourney but I don’t think they have the game to get a title.
Player to watch: Travis Jankowski
UCLA comes in as the #2 seed in the tourney and have the talent to get their first title. The made quick work of their regional and put TCU down easy. Their pitching is top-notch and they have the best defense in this series. They have the talent but I feel they are running into a buzzsaw in Stony Brook.
Player to watch: David Berg
Arizona (43-17) vs. #3 Florida State (48-15) @ 9pm 6/15
Arizona is getting to its 2nd world series since it won its 3rd title in 1986 but they don’t have a shot at a 4th. They are not playing great ball and are going up against a monster in FSU in their first game.
Player to watch: Johnny Field
Florida State has been to 2o college world series and have yet to bring home the hardware. Is this the year? I think so. FSU has the best offense in the series and they are hot now. They also have 2 stud freshman pitchers who will be able to keep runs off the board if FSU decides to have each batter try to hit the ball with the handle of the bat.
Player to watch: Jayce Boyd
Kent State (46-18) vs. Arkansas (44-20) @ 5pm 6/16
Kent State joins Stony Brook as first timers to the big time. The Flashes will need their pitching to continue to perform at a high level to stay with the Razorbacks but don’t have much to contend for a title.
Player to watch: David Starn
Arkansas was the last team to fight their way into the series and have earned a rep as a giant killer. The Hogs need to count on solid pitching to help them advance in this series and they need their bats to stay active. They have won close games already so I think they will do good under pressure but then talent will takeover and they won’t hang.
Player to watch: Matt Reynolds
The Gamecocks are looking to get their 3rd straight title and they get the team they beat for the title last year in the first game. They have experience, they get the hits when they need them and they have great relievers. They are riding a 20 game world series win streak and are supremely confident.
Player to watch: Christian Walker
The Gators come in as the #1 ranked team in the nation and are the favorite to win it all. They are also out for revenge against the Gamecocks for last year. This team is perfectly balanced and is loaded with power bats. They have the game but I don’t think it will be their year again.
Player to watch: Mike Zunino
I think there is going to be some great games in this series and I am pumped.
My Final Four Matchups: Thursday, 6/21
Florida State vs. Stony Brook
South Carolina vs. Arkansas
My Championship Matchup: 6/24, 6/25, 6/26 (if necessary)
Florida State vs. South Carolina
Florida State finally gets the NCAA Baseball title it has chased for so many years.