The College World Series championship series gets underway on Saturday night with Tennessee and Texas A&M battling in Game 1.

The Vols and Aggies made it through a tough week in Omaha unscathed, each going 3-0 en route to the championship matchup. Tennessee and Texas A&M also entered the weekend as the favorites to reach the championship series, per the betting market.

Here’s a betting preview for Game 1 between Tennessee and Texas A&M, including analysis on projected pitching matchups:

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M betting lines (via DraftKings)

Run line: Tennessee -1.5 (-115) | Texas A&M +1.5 (-115)

Money line: Tennessee -188 | Texas A&M +145

Total: Over 11.5 (-120) | Under 11.5 (-110)

Tennessee is a slight favorite in this series. Although these teams are SEC foes, they did not meet in the regular season. However, the Vols and Aggies did face off in an elimination game in the SEC Tournament. Tennessee won that contest 7-4 and then went on to take home the tournament title a few days later.

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Here’s a look at the projected starting pitchers for Game 1 of this series:

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M projected pitching matchups

Tennessee projected pitcher: Chris Stamos | 4.26 ERA in 31.2 innings | 35 strikeouts | 16 walks

Tennessee has been sticking with Chris Stamos as its opener for Game 1s during the postseason. The formula to this point has been that Stamos starts Game 1, and then is relieved by AJ Causey when he gets into trouble (or after 2-3 innings, whichever comes first). That has worked decently well for the Vols this point, although it hasn’t been without hiccups. Tennessee nearly lost to Florida State in the opening round of the CWS because the Noles crushed both Stamos and Causey.

Causey has been great for most of the year, but gave up 5 runs in just 1.2 innings of work against the Noles last week. He also gave up multiple runs in his previous 2 postseason outings against Evansville and and Northern Kentucky. Back on May 23, he faced this Texas A&M team and conceded 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk over 4 innings. He also struck out 7 batters in that game.

After 2 days off, Tennessee’s bullpen should be close to fully-rested entering the weekend. The Vols have a number of difference-makers in the pen that they can turn to if needed.

Texas A&M projected pitcher: Ryan Prager | 2.88 ERA in 93.2 innings | 118 strikeouts | 20 walks

Texas A&M made an aggressive move by choosing to start Justin Lamkin over Prager in its opening-round game in Omaha, and it paid off. Lamkin pitched well in Game 1 against Florida, and the Aggies ultimately earned a 3-2 win. That cleared the way for Prager to start Game 2 against a tougher Kentucky team. However, Prager has been A&M’s ace all season and figures to get the start in Game 1 against the Vols.

Prager pitched against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament back on May 23, but it wasn’t a long outing. He exited the game with this stat line after just 53 pitches: 2.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts and 1 earned run. At the time, it was tied for his shortest outing of the season.

Texas A&M’s pitching staff has been tremendous in Omaha. The Aggies completely shut down 2 of the nation’s best offenses over 27 innings at the College World Series, holding Kentucky and Florida (2 games) to just 3 total runs. The strength of A&M’s staff, after Prager, comes from the bullpen. That will be put to the test in a big way against Tennessee’s elite offense in the championship series.

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M prop bet picks

All props listed below are courtesy of DraftKings:

Ryan Prager under 5.5 strikeouts (-110). Prager is Texas A&M’s ace and has been a strikeout machine all season. He has 118 strikeouts this season in 93.2 innings of work. That translates to roughly 1.26 strikeouts per 9 innings. At that rate, Prager would only need to throw 5 innings to easily clear this total. However, Tennessee is not a particularly high-strikeout team and Prager’s stuff has not generated as many whiffs in his last couple outings. He has just 5 strikeouts in his last 8.1 innings since the start of the Super Regional round. I’m not convinced that he’ll pitch into the 6th against this loaded Tennessee lineup — especially with how good A&M’s bullpen has been.

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Texas A&M to score the first run (-135). The Aggies have a couple of obvious advantages on this prop. First, as the visiting team for Game 1, they will bat first. Second, as mentioned earlier, Texas A&M will not have to face Tennessee’s ace in Game 1. Stamos has routinely given up runs in short outings as the Vols’ Game 1 opener this postseason. He’s given up 4 earned runs in just 2 innings of work across 3 NCAA Tournament outings, conceding at least 1 run in each game. Even at -135, I think there’s value on backing Texas A&M’s offense to strike first.

Christian Moore to hit a home run (+190). Moore has been one of college baseball’s best hitters all season, but he’s reached another level in Omaha. So far in the College World Series, Moore is 8-for-14 with 6 runs scored and 1 homer. He’s seeing the ball extremely well and has been racking up high exit velocities all week. With the wind in Omaha expected to be blowing out toward centerfield on Saturday night, it only increases the odds of Moore leaving the yards. Big-time players step up in big-time environments, and I like Moore’s chances to big an impact in this matchup.

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