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2023 CWS: No. 1 Wake Forest title favorite but public backing LSU

Top-ranked Wake Forest bullied its way into the College World Series for the first time since 1955 by outscoring Alabama a combined 27-9 in sweeping their Super Regional Series.

The first No. 1 national seed to make it to Omaha since 2018, the Demon Deacons are the +250 title favorites at BetMGM entering the start of the CWS on Friday. However, they are not among the book’s biggest liabilities, having been backed by the third-most total bets at 14.7 percent and money at 17.2 percent.

Wake Forest will open its CWS on Saturday against No. 8 seed Stanford, which outlasted Texas in a walk-off in the decisive game on Monday. The Cardinal have been the least supported of the eight teams, drawing just 3.5 and 1.6 percent of the action, respectively, despite their +1300 longshot odds entering their 18th CWS.

Wake Forest has a nation-best 2.84 ERA this year and is led by ace Rhett Lowder, who sports a 15-0 record with a 1.80 ERA. The Deacons have also averaged 15 runs while batting .359 through their first five NCAA Tournament games. The public is strongly behind perennial powerhouse LSU. The No. 5 national seed is chock full of MLB talent, including likely No. 1 overall draft pick Dylan Crews and ace Paul Skenes, who has 188 strikeouts this season.

The Tigers easily dispatched Kentucky in the Super Regionals, outscoring the Wildcats 22-3 in two games to earn their 19th trip to the CWS. Riding plenty of momentum into Omaha, LSU (+375) has been backed by a whopping 30.8 percent of the total bets placed on the national champion at BetMGM and 34.3 percent of the money. Next up is a bit of a surprise. LSU’s first opponent is unranked Tennessee. The Volunteers are the book’s second-biggest liability, having drawn 14.7 and 17.2 percent of the action, respectively. The CWS will open with a pair of interesting games on Friday.

The first features unranked Oral Roberts, the Summit League team that has won 23 of its past 24 games. The No. 4 seed in its region, ORU is coming off a three-game series win at Oregon last weekend. Center fielder Jonah Cox enters the CWS riding a 47-game hitting streak, tied for the longest in Division I history. The Golden Eagles are the lowest seed to make it to Omaha since Stony Brook in 2012 and will be making only their third CWS appearance — their first coming in 1978. They understandably are the biggest longshot at +2500 and will kick off the tournament against TCU.

The Horned Frogs (+850) are also unranked, punching their ticket to the CWS with a Super Regional sweep of Indiana State. They have a nation-best 11-game winning streak and will be making their sixth CWS appearance since 2010.

TCU is BetMGM’s third biggest liability entering the tournament, having been backed by 9.5 percent of the bets and 8.2 percent of the money. Friday’s second game pits No. 2 Florida (+400) against No. 7 Virginia (+600).The Gators are in excellent form entering their 13th CWS. Florida was the first team to punch its ticket to Omaha, sweeping South Carolina last weekend. Gators left fielder Wyatt Langford (.373 average, 17 homers) is vying with Crews and Skenes at the top of most MLB teams’ draft boards.

Meanwhile, Virginia is in its sixth CWS since 2009. The Cavaliers rallied to eliminate Duke in three games and are led by catcher Kyle Teel and third baseman Jake Gelof, who were parts of Virginia’s CWS team two years ago.

The Cavaliers lead the nation with a .335 batting average.

HOW TO WATCH Date: June 16-25/26 Location: Charles Schwab Field, Omaha, Neb. TV channels: ESPN, ESPN2 Live stream: ESPN+, Fubo


June 16 Game 1 | Oral Roberts vs. TCU, 2 p.m. | ESPN Game 2 | Virginia vs. Florida, 7 p.m. | ESPN

June 17 Game 3 | Wake Forest vs. Stanford, 2 p.m. | ESPN Game 4 | LSU vs. Tennessee, 7 p.m. | ESPN

June 18 Game 5 | Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 2 p.m. (Elimination game) | ESPN Game 6 | Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 7 p.m. | ESPN

June 19 Game 7 | Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2 p.m. (Elimination game) | ESPN Game 8 | Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 7 p.m. | ESPN

June 20 Game 9 | Winner of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 6, 2 p.m. (Elimination game) | ESPN Game 10 | Winner of Game 7 vs. Loser of Game 8, 7 p.m. (Elimination game) | ESPN

June 21 Game 11 | Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 9, 2 p.m. | ESPN Game 12 | Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10, 7 p.m. | ESPN

June 22 Game 13 | Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 9, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. (If necessary) | ESPN or ESPN2 Game 14 | Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10, 7 p.m. (If necessary) | ESPN2

MCWS Finals (Best 2-of-3) Game 1 | Bracket Winner 1 vs. Bracket Winner 2 | June 24, 7 p.m. | ESPN Game 2 | June 25, 3 p.m. | ESPN Game 3 | June 26, 7 p.m. | ESPN (If necessary)

–Field Level Media


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