The 52-win Florida Gators are the overwhelming favorites to win the 2016 College World Series in Omaha. Here's a look at updated College Baseball Odds for the NCAA tournament.
The field of eight is set for the 2016 College World Series (CWS), the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 18 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Nebraska. Bettors can expect plenty of upsets and potential value in the 10-day event, as favorites often fall in the double-elimination campaign—the final championship series is a race to two wins.
For those new to CWS betting, it is similar to “March Madness” with books adjusting futures prices before each round, as well as posting individual game props and odds on a daily basis. Here is a look at the updated baseball odds, complete with team tidbits and betting analysis to help you with your wagers.
Odds, Seeding and Conferences
The No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators (52-14), are the overwhelming favorite at +180 odds to win it all. Fellow Sunshine State representatives the Miami Hurricanes (50-12) and baseball powerhouse Oklahoma State Cowboys (41-20) are the books' co-favorites at +500. Two more Big-12 programs, which only fields nine baseball programs, round out the top five offerings, with TCU (47-16) and Texas Tech (46-18) listed at +700 odds. The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (49-16) offered at +800, Arizona Wildcats (44-21) at +1200 and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (42-18-1) at +1600 close out the group.
Only three of the eight national seeds Florida, Miami, and Texas Tech made it to Omaha, making it five of the last six seasons to see four or fewer reach Nebraska. Comprising the books shortest odds, bettors may want to reconsider futures wagers on one of these schools. Only one national seed has won the CWS during this stretch (South Carolina, 2011).
Two conferences have dominated the World Series historically: the Pac-12 and SEC. Together, they have won 27 titles, including eight of the last 10 years. Florida and Arizona are the lone representatives this season. Surprisingly, a West Coast team did not host a regional, the first time since 1994.
Miami is the lone ACC program, which sent a record-tying 10 teams to the tournament this year. The conference has just two national titles overall (Wake Forest 1955, Virginia 2014), despite making up nearly 25 percent of the participants in Omaha over the last decade. The Hurricanes have made a record 44 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and own four national titles (1982, 1985, 1999, 2001), each earned before joining the “basketball” conference in 2004.
Established in 1994, the Big 12 conference owns two titles, but has the best shot at crowning a champion this season with three teams. Outside of Texas and Rice, no other program from the Lone Star state has even reached the championship series in the tournament's 70-year history. Oklahoma State, the 1959 winners and five times the runner-up, enters Omaha for the first time since 1999.
The Gators topped the oddsboard all season, listed as +500 favorites prior to the start of the 2016 campaign. Advancing 5-1 through the Regionals and Super Regionals, the 10-time visitors to Omaha outscored their opponents 37-12, it's only blemish a 3-0 loss to arch-rival Florida State Seminoles. The staff has tossed 22 consecutive shutout innings and is holding teams to a .173 batting average through the first two rounds.
Overall, the Gainsville representatives, despite a storied program, have yet to win a College World Series, two times finishing runner-up in 2005 and 2011. One of two teams to reach 50 wins, made more impressive by their strength of schedule, coach Kevin O'Sullivan's men are deserved favorites. The Gators are just 14-19 in nine CWS appearances overall, though, and the price is a bit undervalued giving the format and competition.
Best Long Shot
Picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12 prior to the season, new head coach Jay Johnson led Arizona to a third-place finish in conference and the program's 34th CWS appearance. The blue-blood program owns the sixth-best winning percentage (.584) in tournament history, and has four national titles (1976, 1980, 1986, 2012). Backed by two elite starters, Nathan Bannister (11-2, 2.71 ERA) and Bobby Dalbec (10-4, 2.92), its team ERA of 3.42 is the lowest in four decades, and they set a program record with 18 away wins. Allowing five runs or more in just four of their last 22 games, they have the pitching, defense, talent, history, and mettle to pad bettor's wallets as double-digit dogs. Only three teams with 20 losses or more have taken the title in the last 15 seasons, however.
Since 2011, when the NCAA rules committee adopted dampening bats and sped up the pace of play, pitching and defense is more dominant than ever. Small ball is the name of the game, giving underdogs a decent shot at victory if they can keep a contest close. Although no team seems capable of derailing the Gators, the price is too short to back. Miami and Oklahoma State, the only other programs to rank in the preseason top 10, are good value, but my money--in addition to a flyer on the Wildcats--is supporting TCU.
Coach Jim Schlossnagle has led the Horned Frogs to three straight Super Regional appearances, the only team in the nation to do so, punching a ticket to Omaha this year after besting in-state rivals Texas A&M 4-1 in the final at College Station.
This team is experienced and well balanced. Its 3.17 team ERA ranked 14th lowest in the nation, and trails only Florida's 2.93 in the field. The rotation, in fact, owns 33 shutouts over the last three seasons, the most in college baseball during this span. TCU led the Big 12 in hitting with a .304 average and scored 450 runs, one shy of leaders Texas Tech. Overall, their plus-217 run differential topped the conference. Baseball Picks of +700 odds are an overlay and worth the investment.