Big-league baseball isn’t even halfway through its season yet, but college players are about to end theirs.
The 2013 NCAA Men’s College World Series kicks off this weekend in Omaha, Neb., with the top eight college teams in America vying for the Division 1 national baseball champions.
The first games will be played on Saturday. Mississippi State takes on Oregon State, followed by Indiana facing Louisville. The other four teams play Sunday, as the University of North Carolina meets North Carolina State and UCLA squares off against LSU.
Last season’s champs, the Arizona Wildcats, didn’t make the tournament’s initial field of 64 teams.
The CWS is a double-elimination tournament, meaning teams have to lose twice to be eliminated. The final two teams will begin the best-of-three Championship Series on Sunday, June 24.
North Carolina is the tournament’s top seed and defeated South Carolina in the super regional to make it into the CWS. That was no small accomplishment. South Carolina won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011 and lost in the championship round to Arizona in 2012.
UNC’s competition will be fierce. LSU is traditionally one of the best teams in the country, though they haven’t been to a CWS since 2009. They did win the championship that year, though. But there are upstart teams that also want the championship. Indiana has never been to a CWS, while NC State will be playing in its first CWS since 1968. To get to this year’s tournament, the Wolfpack had to play the longest super-regional game in history.
Who do you like to win the 2013 College World Series? Will be one of the traditional powerhouses be this year’s national champs? Or will a rookie team like Indiana pull out the upset?
Photo: The Arizona Wildcats pose for a team photograph after winning the 2012 College World Series. (Harry How/Getty Images)