NCAA Baseball Tournament: College World Series Odds, Format, Schedule, Regionals
Hoards of new college baseball fans discover the sport every year as social media and TV coverage of the league expands. For the uninitiated, college baseball might seem daunting. There are 305 D-I teams that play around 50 games each from February through June. Northern teams might not play their first home game until late April. And, above all, its postseason structure might make no sense. As electric and exciting as the College World Series is, the barrier of entry can be high.
The goal of this article is to lower that barrier. Below, we’ll go over how the college baseball postseason works – its format, schedule, and more information you need to enjoy this terrific three-week stretch.
- Check out the latest College World Series odds.
NCAA Baseball Tournament Structure
The NCAA baseball tournament features three rounds: Regionals, Super Regionals, and the College World Series (CWS). The tournament begins June 2 and concludes June 24. Schools host the first two rounds while the CWS plays out in Omaha, Nebraska.
Which teams are in the NCAA baseball tournament?
The college baseball postseason begins like its basketball counterpart: with a selection show. Sixty-four teams earn a bid, 31 of which secure that bid by winning their conference tournament. The other 33 teams are picked based primarily on RPI – a method that has seen some pushback this year – and other factors like schedule, wins, etc.
The top 16 teams are announced as hosts for the first round, known as the “Regionals.” During the selection show, those teams are ordered from 1 through 16. The other 48 teams are then divided up into four-team pods. The selection committee buckets teams into No. 2, 3, and 4 seeds and then divides them up primarily based on the following:
- Avoiding conference matchups
- Avoiding rematches
RPI and team strength hold little weight in the placement process.
Regional Tournament Structure, Schedule
Understanding Regionals can be the trickiest part of the postseason. The opening round begins June 2 and finishes June 5. This round is double-elimination, with the victors of each region needing to win three or four games. Each region is structured like so:
- Game 1: No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 seed
- Game 2: No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed
- Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
- Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
- Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
- Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5
- Game 7 (if necessary): If Game 5 winner also wins Game 6
Once three of the four teams have lost two games, the last-standing team advances to the Super Regionals.
Super Regional Tournament Structure, Schedule
Once 16 teams win their Regional, they match up in a standard bracket and play a best-of-three series with another Regional winner. The winner of Region No. 1 plays the winner of Region No. 16, No. 2 plays No. 15, and so on. Teams are not re-seeded entering the Super Regional round.
The series is played on the higher Regional seed’s campus if the Super Regional matchup is between two non-hosts (a rare occurrence).
The Super Regional round begins Friday, June 9, and concludes Sunday, June 11.
The eight winners of the Super Regional round advance to the College World Series.
College World Series Structure, Schedule
Once the eight teams move onto Omaha, it’s back to the Regionals structure. The tournament splits those eight teams into two four-team pods, both of which play a double-elimination round. The game structure and schedule are identical to the ones listed above for the Regional round.
Then, like the Super Regional round, the victors of each side of the bracket play each other in a best-of-three championship series.
The College World Series begins June 16, with the CWS final beginning June 24. If both teams split the first two games, the CWS final wraps up on Monday, June 26.
The full College World Series schedule:
- Game 1: Saturday, June 24, 7:09 p.m. ET
- Game 2: Sunday, June 25, 3:09 p.m. ET
- Game 3 (if necessary): Monday, June 26, 7:09 p.m. ET
To win the CWS, a team must go no worse than 10-4 throughout the tournament. But this structure opens the door for surprise runs, highlighted by last year’s final between Ole Miss and Oklahoma. Both teams began their postseason run as No. 3 seeds in their respective regionals and caught fire at the right time.