Four straight champions crowned at the College World Series have belonged to the SEC. Five of college baseball’s last 6 national titles have gone to the SEC, and 15 total since the start of the 1990 season. (Do we get to count the 3 combined titles won by Oklahoma and Texas along the way…?) This is a sport that has become dominated by the Southeastern Conference, and with 4 teams among the 8 headed to Omaha this week — No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Texas A&M, and Florida — the likelihood of that changing is unfavorable.

Back Tennessee to win the CWS. The Volunteers (55-12) are the favorites at all major sportsbooks for a reason, and for good reason. Parker Fleming’s CWS win probabilities give the Vols a 24.5% chance to win their first national title, which is about where most books are at.

At the time of publication, DraftKings is offering Tennessee to win at +290.


21+ and present in NY, NJ, PA, CT, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NC, NH, OH, OR, TN, VA, WV, WY. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.



BET $5
GET $150


The Vols owned the best record in the country heading into the postseason, swept their regional, and then ran into some adversity in the supers. Evansville, a heavy underdog, took its best swing at the top seed and forced a Game 3 with a 10-8 win in the second game of the Knoxville Super Regional. But the SEC champs reminded everyone of their mettle with a dominating 12-1 win in the series finale to punch a third ticket to Omaha in 4 years.

Charles Schwab Field is historically where sluggers go to die.

The ballpark is bigger than the ones found around most college campuses, with distances of 335 feet down the foul lines, 375 feet in the alleys, and 408 feet in center field. Rosenblatt surrendered 32 home runs during its farewell season (2010), and the replacement home (then called TD Ameritrade Park) gave up only 9 the following year. In 2012, the CWS produced 10 home runs. In 2013 and 2014, just 3.

In 2015, the ballpark saw 15 homers — which coincided with an NCAA-mandated change to the baseballs themselves. In 2016, there were just 10. Then, in 2017, a surge happened. A total of 23 left the park. In 2021 and 2022, teams combined to smack 28 home runs each. Last year’s average of 1.03 home runs per game was the highest at the College World Series since 1998.

The Vols rank second nationally with 2.58 home runs per game. Texas A&M (2.13, fourth), Florida (2.11, seventh), Florida State (1.98, 11th), Virginia (1.9, 17th), and North Carolina (1.85, 21st) are all in the top 25 as well.

A continuation of what has been a record year could certainly be in store, but Tennessee has the tools to author a throwback tour. Of course, from one perspective, Tennessee is a team without an elite No. 1 on the pitching staff. Alternatively, and the way I’m choosing to view this team, is this is a strong collection of arms from the top down. I want depth at this stage.

Drew Beam (17 starts, 93.1 IP, 4.44 ERA), Zander Sechrist (17 starts, 66.1 IP, 3.26 ERA), Chris Stamos (9 starts, 31.1 IP, 4.02 ERA), and Dylan Loy (5 starts, 28 IP, 2.25 ERA) are the starters. Nate Snead (5 saves, 67.1 IP, 3.34 ERA), AJ Causey (1 save, 86 IP, 3.37 ERA), Aaron Combs (5 saves, 37.1 IP, 2.65 ERA), and Kirby Connell (4 saves, 43 IP, 3.98 ERA) are all capable arms to bring on from the pen.

UT doesn’t have an individual pitcher among the top 50 nationally for ERA, yet the Vols rank third in team ERA. They rank second nationally in both strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.4) and WHIP (1.23). Have fun.

The lineup, which features 8 regulars who have all hit double-digit home runs this season, is a worry on its own. Only 2 teams in the country have hit more doubles than UT this year and only 1 has a better slugging percentage. If the pitching is what it has been to this point in the season, Tennessee has enough to get the job down.

NC State (+1100) is an excellent story and Florida (+1200) is playing with house money at this point, but the Vols feel like a team on a mission.

“The word success, to me, is very important. In this room, we make these guys write down what success is for them and teach them that they need to define what a successful at-bat is or what a successful outing is, whatever it was,” coach Tony Vitello said Monday. “If you’re talking about success for this team, the 1 thing I stated after last season — because I’m in a bathroom crying with a lot of emotions after we’re able to beat Clemson — was to show up at work every day and get out of my car excited and have fun and be around people that want to be here and be in an environment that you’re excited to get to every day.”

There’s something to Vitello that is magnetic. He’s trustworthy. And even though a No. 1 overall seed hasn’t won the CWS since 1999, I’m drawn to UT.

Vitello’s bunch went 5-2 against the rest of the SEC contingent heading to the Cornhusker State, but they’re all over in Bracket 2. Florida and A&M face each other in their opening game at the CWS, and UT’s side features an opening-game matchup between UNC and Virginia — both good things for the Vols’ pathway to a title.

Warren Nolan’s projections give UT a 58% chance to beat Florida State when the 2 sides meet on Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). A strong showing in that one and the Vols will prove tough to slow down.