College World Series 2021: Bracket Predictions, Start Times for Sunday Schedule

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Eric Gay/Associated Press

There are technically much better odds of predicting the men’s College World Series than winning the lottery, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

Between the double-elimination format and the relative balance between the teams, anything can and does happen. Just ask top-ranked Arkansas, which spent the season establishing itself as the best team in college baseball before being bounced out of the super regionals by NC State, a team it trounced 21-2 in the series opener.

That’s a good lesson to keep in mind for Sunday’s two-game slate. While it seems relatively straightforward from a prediction standpoint, that probably means at least one upset is in the works.

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Sunday’s College World Series Schedule

Tennessee vs. Virginia, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2

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Texas vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

                 

Predictions

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Tennessee vs. Virginia

Look, just because we touched on how difficult the prediction business is, that doesn’t mean we’re backing away from the challenge.

The Cavaliers have played the role of escape artist this postseason, and based on their performance to date, they’re making Harry Houdini proud. They dropped their first games in the regionals and the super regionals, meaning six of their eight outings were elimination games—and they won all of them.

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“I’ll tell you, what this team has accomplished and the opportunity they have now is just incredibly special,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor told reporters.

But Virginia’s tendency to start slow could come back to bite it against a Tennessee team that rolled into this tournament.

The Volunteers went a perfect 3-0 in the regional round, then dispatched LSU twice in the super regional to punch their CWS ticket. Their last victory was the most emphatic, too, as Tennessee belted six home runs (two by junior Jake Rucker) en route to a 15-6 win.

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Virginia might ride some team-of-destiny vibes here, but our crystal ball says Tennessee’s talent will win out.

Prediction: Tennessee 6, Virginia 2

             

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Texas vs. Mississippi State

This game features a pair of top-10 nationally seeded teams—Texas is No. 2; Mississippi State is No. 7—but it feels more lopsided than that sounds.

The Longhorns are the highest-ranked team in the field, and they play like it.

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Their 3-0 regional record featured a dominant scoring differential of 33 runs for Texas and five for the opposition. It then toppled South Florida twice in the super regional, edging a 4-3 win in the opener before rolling to a 12-4 win in Game 2.

While the Longhorns flashed their offensive firepower earlier this postseason, their pitching staff is what really gives them juggernaut status. They have the nation’s best ERA at 2.89—no other team did better than 3.14—and rank third overall with a 1.13 WHIP.

None of that bodes well for a Mississippi State squad that struggled with consistency down the stretch. The Bulldogs lost both of their SEC tournament games by a 25-3 count. While they advanced over Notre Dame in the super regionals, they suffered the series’ most lopsided loss with a 9-1 defeat in Game 2.

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Maybe the offense shows up. Maybe it doesn’t. Same goes for the pitching staff.

That inconsistency and the uncertainty it creates is too much of a liability to overcome against a club as good as the Longhorns.

Prediction: Texas 9, Mississippi State 3

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