In mid-May, just after everyone most students had left campus, the Michigan baseball team had work to do.
The Wolverines had lost five of their last six, and were by no means shoo-ins to make the NCAA tournament. They needed a strong performance at the Big Ten tournament in Omaha, Nebraska and maybe a little luck.
Who would’ve thought that a month later Michigan would be one game away from the College World Series Finals?
Probably not many college baseball fans. Now that we’re nine games in, we decided to reseed the remaining field based off the first half of the CWS.
1. Vanderbilt Commodores (Original seed: No. 2; Reseed: No. 1)
Marlins draft pick JJ Bleday, the No. 4 overall pick in the MLB draft, is as good as advertised. Wednesday, he went 3-for-4 in a huge win over Mississippi State, and he wasn’t even the biggest star of the game. If Stephen Scott keeps hitting homers – he had two of them Wednesday – and Kumar Rocker and Drake Fellows keep making bats miss, Vandy is going to be in Omaha for a long time.
The Vanderbilt Whistler, who’s seen his share of games, even went out on a limb Wednesday and said this team is better than the 2014 national championship squad.
Odds to win CWS (from Caesars Sportsbook): -180
2. Michigan Wolverines (Original seed: Unranked; Reseed: 2)
This may be the most obvious assessment of the past five days, but Michigan’s pitching staff is good.
In the Wolverines’ opening win over Texas Tech, Karl Kauffmann, a second-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies earlier this month, turned in a solid seven innings.
Then in their next game, Tommy Henry’s three-hitter against Florida State was so impressive that coach Erik Bakich couldn’t even muster up the right adjectives to describe it. Henry struck out 10 and walked none.
Odds to win CWS (from Caesars Sportsbook): +275
3. Mississippi State (Original seed: 6; Reseed: 3)
They sure are persistent. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, the Bulldogs clawed back to stomp on Auburn’s hearts. So what if a throwing error helped decide it?
On Wednesday against a tough Vanderbilt team, MSU’s rally from a six-run deficit ultimately fell short. But we’ve learned one thing — never count Mississippi State out.
Odds to win CWS (from Caesars Sportsbook): 7-1
4. Louisville Cardinals (Original seed: 7; Reseed 4)
Nos. 3 and 4 are a toss-up. But take away a late two-run homer in their CWS opener against Vandy, and maybe the Cardinals are in the winner’s bracket and the driver’s seat.
They looked strong Wednesday in their 5-3 win over Auburn, and will need to keep their bats hot to avoid elimination Thursday vs. Mississippi State.
Odds to win CWS (from Caesars Sportsbook): 20-1
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (Original seed: 8; Reseed: 5)
Thirty-four of the last 38 national champions have won their CWS opener. The Red Raiders will have to beat Michigan twice to get to the finals.
They’ve now won two straight — sending Arkansas and Florida State home, and have played well with their backs against the wall following their CWS opening-game loss.
Odds to win CWS (from Caesars Sportsbook): 12-1
ESPN editor Rachel Marcus contributed to this story.
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