After a one-year layoff due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the College World Series is back in 2021. The field has been whittled down to four teams, following the 64-team NCAA Division I Tournament that determined the final eight teams, and the double-elimination bracket round last week.
The semi-finals will be played Friday and Saturday (if necessary) and offer these matchups:
- Mississippi State vs. Texas
- North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
The College World Series Finals are a best of three series that begins on June 28 in Omaha, Nebraska, the historic venue for college baseball championships since 1950. All three finals games, if necessary, can be seen on ESPN2 at 6 PM EST.
College World Series Semi-Finalists
Mississippi State (vs. Texas on Friday at 7 PM EST)
Not since Will Ferrell has there been a better use of a cowbell. Fans of Mississippi State are ringing their cowbells and making lots of noise in Omaha, and for good reason.
The Bulldogs have been the favorite since the top eight teams started CWS play last week. Head coach Chris Lemonis has a powerful pitching staff at his disposal. Right-hander Will Bednar struck out 15 in a win over Texas, and closer Landon Sims fanned six in relief, making it 21 K’s for the Bulldogs, a record for a single College World Series game.
The Bulldogs pitching staff is so good that if they get a lead—even a slim lead—after five innings, the other team feels like they have little chance to come back. Starter Christian MacLeod also racks up plenty of strikeouts for a team that averages 12.4 K’s per nine innings, an NCAA record. Metal bat, wood bat, magic wand bat, it doesn’t matter what batters take to the plate against Mississippi State, they often make contact with air.
On the other end of those strikeouts is catcher Logan Tanner, who leads the Dogs with 14 home runs. Tanner is only a sophomore, but he already has pro scouts drooling over his tremendous arm strength from behind the plate.
Texas (vs. Mississippi State on Friday at 7 PM EST)
The highest-ranked team remaining in the field, the #3 Longhorns are seeking their seventh CWS title, but their first since 2005. Texas has to defeat Mississippi State (who have yet to lose in Omaha) twice to advance to the finals.
The Longhorns have the firepower to survive this weekend: with Ivan Melendez and Zach Zubia pacing their offense in the tournament and College World Series. But they will have to do better than they fared last Sunday in their opening-round loss to Mississippi State, when Texas hitters whiffed 21 times.
North Carolina State (vs. Vanderbilt at 2 PM EST on Friday)
Three months ago you would have been able to get great odds on NC State getting this far. On March 21, the Wolfpack was 4-9 and floundering. But since then, head coach Elliott Avent has masterfully guided his team through conference play, the Division I tourney, and the first round of the CWS to put his club two wins away from being crowned champions.
The Pack are 33-9 since late March and the reason is simple: power. NC State has hit more than 90 homers this season, placing them in the top ten among the nearly 300 D1 baseball schools. They pounded Stanford in the opening game of the CWS 10-4, but this is a team that has proven in Omaha that they can win low-scoring games too. In their second contest against Vanderbilt, ace Sam Highfill allowed just two hits over seven innings to lead NC State to a 1-0 nail-biting victory.
Catcher Luca Tresh (15 dingers) is expected to be the top catcher in the MLB Draft. Double play duo Tyler McDonough and Jose Torres are also going to be playing the MLB someday, and they spark an offense that could give Vanderbilt fits in the CWS Semi-Finals on Friday.
Vanderbilt (vs. North Carolina State at 2 PM EST on Friday)
Of the four teams remaining, Vanderbilt has the most experience. This is the fifth time in ten years that the Commodores have advanced to the round of four in bracket play in Omaha. In 2019, the last time the college World Series was played, Vanderbilt won the title, defeating Michigan. This season they have several players from that team still in uniform, and late-inning heroics on their side.
In their most recent game on Wednesday, Vandy pulled off an incredible ninth-inning rally to win 6-5 and stave off elimination. The Commodores were down to their final strike in that game before stunning Stanford and thrilling many in Omaha with a walkoff win.
Vanderbilt has a balanced team, but their strength is at the top of their pitching staff. Righty Kumar Rocker has already been named Outstanding Player at the College World Series once, and he tossed a no-hitter in the Super Regional round back in 2019, when he also struck out 19 batters in that game. He’s considered the top pitching prospect eligible for the MLB Draft to be held in July. The other Vandy ace is Jack Leiter, who tossed a no-hitter earlier this season, and features a nasty set of pitches. Leiter is pitching royalty: his father and uncle were both successful MLB pitchers.
How To Bet On The College World Series
Your favorite sportsbooks will offer odds on the College World Series, both game-by-game odds and a line on the eventual champion. Here are the moneyline odds from several sportsbooks on Friday’s games:
- Mississippi State (+116) vs. Texas (-142)
- North Carolina (+168) vs. Vanderbilt (-215)
- Mississippi State (+110) vs. Texas (-134)
- North Carolina (+165) vs. Vanderbilt (-205)
- Mississippi State (+115) vs. Texas (-135)
- North Carolina (+155) vs. Vanderbilt (-200)
To Win The College World Series
- Mississippi State +195
- Vanderbilt +240
- North Carolina State +270
- Texas +410
There were no odds posted on DraftKings or BetMGM for College World Series champion as of Friday.