2024 NCAA baseball tournament preview: Field of 64 is set, what to know ahead of College World Series (2024)

The NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament field of 64 for 2024 has been announced and seeded. The first-round action -- known as the regionals -- started on Friday and we have updated scores and results. The tournament precedes the eight-team Men's College World Series in Omaha, which begins June 14.

The 2024 edition of the tournament is underway, but in keeping with ancient and holy traditions, we have a complete breakdown and preview coverage via the FAQ format. Ping!

So this is just like the Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament, right?

Wrong, actually. The more well-known basketball tourneys are, to be honest, more straightforward than the baseball version of such things. Here's how this thing works:

  • The first round of play is known as the regional, and it's a double-elimination format featuring four teams. When possible, each of the 16 one-seeds hosts its respective regional. Only one team out of four survives each regional, which makes the opening round a bit of a purge.
  • The winner of each regional advances to the 16-team super regionals, which is a best-of-three series between two regional winners.
  • The winner of each super regional -- there are eight teams in all -- advances to the College World Series in Omaha.
  • The College World Series consists of two four-team brackets. Each bracket operates under a double-elimination format until the final two teams are left standing. At that point, the slates are wiped clean, and it's a best-of-three series to determine the national champion.
  • It's definitely not what you're accustomed to if you come to this as a consumer of March Madness, but the baseball hootenanny typically provides similar levels of tension and excitement.

Who are the favorites?

The tournament field includes 16 national seeds, the top eight of which you may consider to be the pre-tourney favorites to reach the CWS in Omaha. Those top eight national seeds also get to host super regionals should they advance that far. As for this year's top-eight seeds, here they are in order:

  1. Tennessee (50-11)
  2. Kentucky (40-14)
  3. Texas A&M (44-13)
  4. North Carolina (42-13)
  5. Arkansas (43-14)
  6. Clemson (41-14)
  7. Georgia (39-15)
  8. Florida State (42-15)

Obviously, all these eight teams won't wind up in Omaha, but they have the strongest pre-tournament resumes, at least in the estimation of the selection committee, and should all be expected to make deep runs. Interestingly, only one of those above top seeds, Georgia in 1990, has won the College World Series before.

Is the SEC still the best conference in college baseball?

And how. This year, the SEC set a tournament record by snaring 11 bids. That means just three teams – Ole Miss, Auburn, and Missouri – failed to make the field of 64. And as you can see above, the SEC claims five of the top eight national seeds. More to the point, the SEC has won the last four national championships and five of the last six. So yes is the answer.

Is a repeat a possibility?

Yes, it is. Last season, LSU – powered by the likes of Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews – barged to the belt and the title. This year, they're back in the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Chapel Hill regional. They went 40-21 during the regular season, but a 13-17 record in SEC play probably kept them from hosting a regional. Still, the Tigers have a shot, as long as the power combo of Tommy White and Jared Jones brings the thunder. Of note is that no team has won back-to-back Men's College World Series since South Carolina in 2010 and 2011.

Who's the Cinderella this year?

We'll go with Oral Roberts. Last year, the Golden Eagles made a surprise run to Omaha, which made them the Cinderellas of the CWS. This year they're the Cinderella of the entire tournament. That's because Oral Roberts went just 27-30-1 during the regular season and 13-15-1 in Summit League play. They snared an automatic bid only by winning the conference tournament. They'll be the fourth seed in the Norman regional, and the expectation is that they'll be going home early.

Who are some players to watch?

Our draft/prospect maven, R.J. Anderson, will soon have a deeper dive into which players in this year's tournament have the potential to be core contributors at the highest level. In advance of that, however, we'll give you a handful of names to watch, straight from Monsieur Anderson. In no particular order, those players are:

  • Charlie Condon, OF/3B, Georgia
  • Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
  • Jac Caglianone, 1B/LHP, Florida
  • J.J. Wetherholt, SS/2B, West Virginia
  • Nick Kurtz, 1B, Wake Forest
  • Chase Burns, RHP, Wake Forest
  • Seaver King, 3B/OF, Wake Forest
  • Hagen Smith, LHP, Arkansas
  • Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M
  • James Tibbs, OF, Florida State

In particular, Condon is an elite power prospect. His 35 home runs this season are a record in the BBCOR (bat-ball coefficient restitution) era, which began in 2011 when composite bats were first used. Caglianone, meanwhile, is one of the most compelling two-way college players to come along in some time.

With all that necessary info laid out, let the games begin, which they soon shall.

2024 NCAA baseball tournament preview: Field of 64 is set, what to know ahead of College World Series (2024)
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