College World Series field wide open after top seed toppled

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The College World Series gets underway Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska.

Top-seeded Arkansas got knocked off in its super regional, opening up the possibilities for the eight-team national championship event. The field includes a Vanderbilt team with MLB-level starting pitchers, big bashers like Arizona and Tennessee, an unexpected party-crasher in Virginia and sturdy contenders like Texas and Stanford.

The USA TODAY Network tasked some of its writers with predicting the outcome of all the first-round games and which team will win the best-of-three series and claim the NCAA championship.

Our predictions:

North Carolina State vs. Stanford

Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman: North Carolina State. The Wolfpack will be the Cinderella at Omaha, but the shoe won’t fit because the Cardinal will bring N.C. State back to reality with its high-powered offense after sweeping Texas Tech in the super regional. The Pack’s epic upset of Arkansas will be their summer highlight.

Aria Gerson, The Tennessean: Stanford. Underrated all year thanks to playing only West Coast teams, the Cardinal looked like one of the best teams in the country in the regional and super regional rounds.

Adam Sparks, The Tennessean: Stanford. The Cardinal obliterated Texas Tech in the super regional with two wins by a combined score of 24-3. And North Carolina State’s pinnacle was upsetting No. 1 seed Arkansas in the super regional.

Nick Suss, The Clarion Ledger: Stanford. Both of these teams proved something about themselves in the early rounds, but Stanford’s pitching staff proves to be a little too deep for the Wolfpack.

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