NCAA Baseball Betting Preview: Who Will Win the 2024 College World Series?

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - MAY 15: Braydon Webb #24 of the Arkansas Razorbacks watches a fly ball during game 2 of the series against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Baum-Walker Stadium at George Cole Field on May 15, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Commodores 11-6. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

It’s about that time.

Opening Day starts on Friday, February 16th. Number one-ranked Wake Forest begins their season at home against Fordham in a three-game set. Number two, Florida, plays St. John’s in a three-game series at home. Number three-ranked Arkansas is hosting James Madison for a four-game series.

The rest of the country starts their climb to overtake the pre-season top three to win it all in Omaha in June. One of the top three preseason teams wins in the end, but I have two more long shots to consider when placing College World Series futures.

No. 3 University of Arkansas

I know it’s been gut-wrenching, but this is the year. WOO PIG SOOIE!

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Arkansas finished the 2023 season at the 16th spot in the D1 College Baseball Rankings. They went 43-18 (20-10 SEC) but lost in the Fayetteville regional. Arkansas has been to the NCAA tournament 32 times, including 11 trips to Omaha. The last time they won it all was in 1994, and 30 years later, it’s their year, especially after adding reinforcements from the transfer portal.

This team is built on pitching. You ask most evaluators; they are in the mix for the best rotation in the sport, but I’ll take their rotation against anybody’s. It starts with Hagen Smith, who returns after being a first-team all-SEC starter in 2023. He was one of the best pitchers in college baseball last season, pitching to a 3.64 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 71 innings as a true sophomore.

Brady Tygart will be the Saturday guy who joined the rotation later in the season. He started six games, allowing just five earned runs in 19 innings. He’s a big right-hander with an incredible slider; I’m very excited about him in 2024.

The third pitcher in the rotation, who would be a Friday starter on most teams, is left-hander Mason Molina. Molina was the best pitcher on a 41-23 Texas Tech team, but transferred to Arkansas after last season. Gage Wood returns as the closer as well, and the rest of the bullpen is full of quality arms. For my money, it’s the best pitching staff in the SEC and one of the top three in the country.

Evaluators are down on this offense after losing six of their regulars. However, the transfer portal was very kind to them. They added another Texas Tech player, catcher Hudson White. White can hit, but I love that they grabbed the tandem from a strong Tech team. Tarleton State is yet to be well known, but the Razorbacks did their homework, bringing in Jake Wagner. Wagner put up a 1.143 OPS with 15 HR last year for Tarleton State and should bring in plenty of thump.

They also brought in Ty Wilmsmeyer from Missouri, who hit .311 with 21 SB last season. One of the top transfers, Wehiwa Alloy, chose Arkansas as well. Alloy was the fifth WAC Freshman of the Year, joining MLB players like Chris Sale, Rhys Hoskins, and Sam Long.

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Dave Van Horn is one of the best in the business. His record at Arkansas is 839-441 in 21 seasons. He’s a legend in college baseball, and if it’s ever going to happen, this is one of his best shots.

Arkansas was one of the favorites to win last year before injuries caught up to them. If they can stay healthy, they can go toe-to-toe with any team in college baseball. Anything over +1000 is a bet for me.

The Pick: Arkansas to Win College World Series (+1100) Risk 1 U

No. 7 Oregon State

These odds are entirely off. Regarding talent, Oregon State can compete with any team in the country.

Last year, Oregon State fell in the Baton Rouge regional. It shouldn’t take away from a great regular season, going 41-20 (18-12 Pac-12). They fell out of the top 25 last season, but with plenty of returning stars and a great showing in the transfer portal, they are a top ten team that’s not being priced as such.

Second baseman Travis Bazzana leads the offenses as one of the best in college baseball. He put up a .374/.500/.622 slash line last season and projects to be a top ten pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. The highest I’ve seen him mocked is the third overall pick. He’s everything you want in a player; he can defend, hit for power and average, and wreak havoc on the basepaths. He’s the last guy you like to see as a pitcher in a high-leverage moment.

The rest of the infield is terrifying (in a good way). Mason Guerra will man first base, making the left side of Oregon State’s infield the best in the country. He’s got a ton of power, slugging .573 last year, but he’s no power-or-bust guy, hitting for a .326 average. At third base, they are going with the freshman Trent Caraway. He was projected to go in the first three rounds of the draft per multiple outlets before choosing Oregon State. He has a ton of talent and should contribute right away.

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Shortstop seems like the lone “question mark”. They had Kyle Dernedde, a two-year starter who transferred to Michigan. However, I think adding Elijah Hainline will be a net gain rather than a net loss. After a tough freshman year, Hainline hit .337 and ranked 14th in the Pac-12 in SLG (.615). He should explode again for Oregon State this season. He’s a dynamo who fits into that lineup so well.

The rest of the offense is fantastic. Everyone in the outfield hit over .300 and slugged over .500 last season. Micah McDowell and Brady Kasper are the names Oregon State fans have become accustomed to, but sophomore Gavin Turley has the tools to become a household name.

The pitching is probably why the odds fell. Jacob Kmatz (4.71 ERA) and Jaren Hunter (3.03 ERA) returned after solid seasons, and they added Aidan May (6.33 ERA), a transfer from Arizona. Don’t let the ERA fool you; he might have the best stuff in the conference. The bullpen is very deep, especially after adding Cal Poly transfer in Kyle Scott.

They are led by a manager with plenty of regular season success in Mitch Canham (131-71 Record).

They play great defense and can hit with any team in the country. The rotation has the potential to be great; it’s just about unlocking the talent. They made the right moves in the transfer portal and returned most of the team from last year.

This line should be +2000 at the highest, so anything over that is a play for me.

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Hail, hail, hail, hail, hail to old OSU.

The Pick: Oregon State to Win College World Series +3000 Risk 1 U

No 25. South Carolina

The 25th-ranked team? What? The Gamecocks are better than that.

This program is on the rise. Last season was a dream; this is the year they made it a reality. 42 wins during the regular season was the most this team has seen since 2016.

Transfers saw this and jumped in. Parker Noland (.822 OPS) is a big name from Vanderbilt. However, Blake Jackson (.846 OPS) from Charlotte and Kennedy Jones (.357 AVG) from UNC Greensboro are big additions to the lineup.

I can make an entire article about Ethan Petry. The man slashed .376/.471/.733 with 23 HR in his FRESHMAN year at South Carolina. He’s a human freight train. He could be the best hitter in the country after this season, and a veteran outfield surrounds him. Fifth-year Dylan Brewer put up 8 HR and a .394 OBP last season. Junior Evan Stone also got on base last year at a .371 clip. Both players are known for their glove over the bat, but they’ll get plenty from Petry.

The infield starts at the catching position with Cole Messina, slashing .287/.409/.559 with 17 HR. Retaining first-basemen Gavin Casas is huge, considering he was expected to go to the draft. Getting his .976 OPS back from last year turns this offense into a nightmare for opposing pitchers. They have Talmadge LeCroy (.852 OPS) at third base, who can also slide in at catcher if needed. Carson Hornung (.464 OBP) will move from the outfield to join Will Tippett up the middle.

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This offense was among the best in the SEC and the entire country. All they need is a solid rotation to make it to Omaha for the first time since 2012. South Carolina saw five pitchers drafted, so the rotation is mainly up in the air. They do have some pitchers I’m excited about.

Left-hander Mathew Becker (4.84 ERA) and right-hander Eli Jones (3.95 ERA) should be the first two starters in the rotation. Roman Kimbell joins South Carolina after one season at Notre Dame, where he was 4-0 with 32 strikeouts in 25 innings. He’s mostly worked out of the bullpen but has excellent stuff and a Youtube channel worth watching. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery and should be an arm to watch this year. Chris Veach is back to handle the closer role, and they have enough stuff in the bullpen to hold tight games.

It’s a value bet because if the pitching clicks, it’ll be enough for this team to hit themselves into Omaha. Mark Kingston has been an excellent manager, leading this team to a 180-130 record in six seasons at South Carolina.

I like this down to 25-1. If the pitching clicks, watch out.

The Pick: South Carolina to Win College World Series (+3000)