How Does The College World Series Format Work?

Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
college world series format

This weekend, the NCAA Baseball Tournament kicks off around the country. For the next couple weeks, 64 teams participate in a full-on sprint to secure one of eight coveted berths in the College World Series. The format might seem daunting if 2024 is your first time diving into the College World Series. After all, there are only three stages to turn 64 teams into one champion.

Follow along with TheLines for full betting coverage of the college baseball postseason. Sportsbooks already posted Regionals odds for all 16 pods. Also, be sure to check out full College World Series odds.

How Does The College Baseball Tournament Work?

The NCAA Baseball Tournament is divided into three main stages: Regionals, Super Regionals, and the College World Series. The current format began in 1999, when the tournament field expanded from 48 to 64. As a result, Super Regionals were implemented. Regions were first introduced in 1949. The CWS itself began as an eight-team tournament in 1947.

NCAA Regionals Format

The NCAA Selection Committee selects all 64 teams and breaks them into 16 four-team pods. The top 16 teams designated by the committee host their own Regional. Starting in 2018, 16 “national seeds” began to be selected to balance the pods further.

The four teams play a double-elimination mini-tournament. For example, No. 1 seed Tennessee begins by playing No. 4 seed Northern Kentucky in the Knoxville Regional. The winner of that game plays the winner of the 2-seed/3-seed game. From there, the two losers play in an elimination game. The winner of that elimination game plays the loser in the winner’s bracket in another elimination game. If you’re a bit lost, see last year’s example from the Winston-Salem Region:

The victor of that region moves on to the next round.

Super Regionals

Perhaps the most exciting round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, Super Regionals move into a best-of-three series. The higher-seeded winner hosts the lower-seeded winner on campus for that two- or three-game series. Since the series is still played at home sites, environments in the Super Regionals reach explosive levels.

Sometimes, the higher seed cannot host a Super Regional because it lacks appropriate facilities. Last year, TCU was awarded the Super Regional host against Indiana State because it had facilities that could accommodate the crowds.

The first team to win two games punches a highly-coveted ticket to Omaha for the College World Series.

College World Series Format

After a double-elimination round and a best-of-three series round, the College World Series returns to double-elimination… at least, for now. Super Regional victors from Regions 1/16, 8/9, 5/12, and 4/13 are placed into Bracket 1. The other Super Regional winners fall into Bracket 2. Those two four-team pods again play a double-elimination tournament to win their bracket.

Victors from each side of the bracket then square off in a best-of-three championship series. That College World Series best-of-three format debuted in 2003. Before that, champions were crowned with a single game.

Though the format is intended to find the best college baseball team, it leaves the door open for some pretty miraculous runs. In 2008, Fresno State shocked the college baseball world as the biggest College World Series longshot ever. Coastal Carolina secured its lone championship in 2016. At 65-1, Ole Miss went on a historic run in 2022 to capture its championship.

When Is The College World Series?

The College World Series final begins June 24. It is a best-of-three series, and all games will be broadcast on ESPN.

  • Regional tournaments: begin Friday, May 31
  • Super Regionals: begin Friday, June 7
  • Opening Round: begins Friday, June 14
  • Championship Game: Saturday-Monday, June 22-24

Who Is Hosting The NCAA Baseball Regionals?

Tennessee earned the top overall seed this season. Notably, the No. 1 overall seed hasn’t won a CWS title since 1999 (Miami). The full list of teams hosting regionals this weekend includes:

  • 1 Tennessee Volunteers (Knoxville Regional)
  • 2 Kentucky Wildcats (Lexington Regional)
  • 3 Texas A&M Aggies (Bryan-College Station Regional)
  • 4 North Carolina Tar Heels (Chapel Hill Regional)
  • 5 Arkansas Razorbacks (Fayetteville Regional)
  • 6 Clemson Tigers (Clemson Regional)
  • 7 Georgia Bulldogs (Athens Regional)
  • 8 Florida State Seminoles (Tallahassee Regional)
  • 9 Oklahoma Sooners (Norman Regional)
  • 10 NC State Wolfpack (Raleigh Regional)
  • 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Stillwater Regional)
  • 12 Virginia Cavaliers (Charlottesville Regional)
  • 13 Arizona Wildcats (Tucson Regional)
  • 14 UC Santa Barbara Gouchos (Santa Barbara Regional)
  • 15 Oregon State Beavers (Corvallis Regional)
  • 16 East Carolina Pirates (Greenville Regional)

College World Series Odds

Compare College World Series odds from the best sports betting sites below. Click on odds anywhere to place a bet.