Cal finally has found their opponents in College World Series, as all of the 8 teams to make it Omaha have been decided. The Bears will be matched up with #1 seed Virginia, defending champion and #4 ranked South Carolina, and the fellow unseeded Texas A&M in the early going. On the other side, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Texas, and Florida lay in wait for the national championship. We’ll worry about those teams later. These teams have been teams constantly in the conversation for who’s going to make the national championship, while Cal’s rarely been mentioned. What chance do these Bears have to make it to the best of 3 national championship?
First of all, allow me to explain the College World Series format. If you remember the regional format, it’s basically that. There’s two double elimination “regionals”, and the two winners face off in a Best of 3 championship series. The only difference is that teams get two days between each game, instead of playing 2 games in 1 day.
Texas A&M joins the Bears as the only “upstart” teams, but they don’t really fit into the category. They were a regional host and a #1 seed, meaning that they’re in the same category as 7 of the 8 teams that made it here. South Carolina won the national title last year, meaning they’re in the heavyweight category. And Virginia is the best team in the country, ranked #1 and having a very talented roster. We’ll have more on these teams later in the week, but it’s safe to say that there is no easy way for the Bears to advance.
Going for the traditional 1 in 4 teams would give the Bears a 25% chance to advance. I wouldn’t disagree with that much, although you could make the argument Cal is the hottest team out there. They’re not. South Carolina dispatched a very good UConn team by the combined score 13-3, while Texas A&M crushed a nationally seeded Florida State 11-2. Virginia barely sneaked by UC Irvine, but taking in account the recent form of all the teams leaves you with much the same conclusion: the Bears have about a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of making it to the championship. It’s about the same as Virginia, Texas A&M, and South Carolina, and it’s far better than all the teams that will be watching the games on television.
Despite the odds going against the Bears, it’s best to remember that the odds have been going against them all year. Or that this is baseball, where the odds don’t matter and who has the hot hand and luck on their side will come out on top. The Bears are about even with the other teams in the regional, so it’s not going to take major bounces in their favor for a favorable outcome. It’s hard for me to control my enthusiasm for this team; they’re talented, and they’re coming together at the perfect time. Let’s hope they can advance and continue their improbable run. Go Bears!