Top College Baseball Games In 2016
In order to satisfy their baseball winter blues, fans impatient for the start of meaningful Major League action have been turning to the college game more and more. And with increased exposure of the sport every year on ESPN and other networks, it’s likely that even more money will be wagered on college baseball in 2016 than ever before.
Because it is still such a niche sport (all things considered), it’s one that big college baseball fans (or those that are willing to take the time to follow it closely) can take advantage of un-initiated oddsmakers on.
While the eight-team College World Series always features plenty of the usual perennial powers, it’s anyone’s best guess as to how each team will navigate their regular season slate to get there. Things get particularly hard to predict when you examine the meat grinders that are the super talented ACC, SEC, and Pac-12 conferences, as each is loaded to the gills with future MLB talent.
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But in our best effort, we have compiled a list of marquee series and games between the most likely candidates to end up in Omaha this June.
February 26-28: Florida at Miami (FL)
With a third place finish at last year’s CWS and four potential MLB first round picks, the Florida Gators seem to be the unanimous pre-season #1 and favorite to lift the trophy in Omaha this June. Standing in their way will be a Miami team with a loaded class of talented juniors.
March 3-6: Cal at Texas
Just five years after the program was planned to be eliminated altogether, Cal baseball has appeared re-born, finishing third in the Pac-12 and making it to the semis of their Super Regional last season.
While Texas didn’t have as much luck in their own Super Regional games last summer (0-2), this early March non-conference matchup should serve as a nice measuring stick for both these national title contenders.
March 21: Cal State Fullerton at USC
Local bragging rights will be at stake in this one-off matchup between two of the all-time most successful and storied college baseball programs. USC was ousted by eventual CWS Champions Virginia in their Super Regional last season, and CSUF will be looking to improve on last year’s first-round exit in Omaha.
March 24-26: LSU at Texas A&M
When these two SEC foes met in Baton Rouge last year they were ranked #1 and #2, with the slight-underdog Tigers taking the series 2-1. This year’s series in College Station will be a clash of LSU’s loaded pitching staff versus Texas A&M’s power hitting outfielders.
March 25-27: Louisville at Virginia
Even though the Cardinals swept the eventual Cavaliers in their three-game series last April, it was Virginia that would actually go on and make the trip to Omaha (eventually winning their first title in program history). UVA will return plenty of talent out in the field, but it’s Louisville and their loaded roster (that includes 2015’s Freshman of the Year, first baseman/pitcher Brendan McKay) that looks they could be the biggest challenger to Florida’s national title aspirations.
April 22-24: TCU at Oklahoma State
Despite getting bounced from their own conference tournament in two games, TCU would go on to be the Big 12’s lone representative in the CWS. That was no doubt disheartening to an Oklahoma State club that has been unable to make it further than the Super Regional stage the past three seasons. These mid-season tilts could give us a good idea of the Big 12 pecking order, and if that trend might continue for a fourth straight year.
May 13-15: Vanderbilt at Florida
LSU, Florida, or Vanderbilt have won all or at least a share of the last seven SEC regular season championships, and it’s likely that this late season matchup in Gainesville could determine who helps continue that streak in 2016. Vandy baseball has seen unprecedented success since coach Tim Corbin took the reins in 2003, including trips to the Championship series the last two seasons (winning in 2014).
Despite having more success historically (in terms of conference championships, NCAA tournament appearances, and CWS appearances), Florida is no doubt envious of the Commodores’ new found glory as they continue to search for their own program’s first national championship.
May 27-29: UCLA at Oregon State
UCLA plowed through 2015’s regular season on the way to a 22-8 conference record, the Pac-12 Championship, and the #1 overall national seed. The season flickered out in the Regional Finals, however, and the Bruins were left spending the off-season figuring out how to replace some of their biggest bats. Lying in the weeds in second place of the conference last year was Oregon State, whose season shared a similar fate in the regional semis. This series, the last of the regular season, could be a to-do conference championship series if 2015 was any indication.