Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State athletics

TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha has been vacant for almost two years. 

Sure, the 10-year-old stadium has hosted events over that span of time. But the main event, the College World Series, is finally nearing its return after a year off, stirring from the cancellation of the 2020 college baseball season. 

It’s a city that truly craves this illustrious event year in and year out. Fans around the country annually flock to the Midwest to lay their eyes on some of the most passionate baseball you could ever find. 

The road to Omaha is now set as 64 teams were unveiled during Memorial Day cookouts. Those teams were placed throughout 16 NCAA Regionals. 

This double-elimination format will allow the winner to advance to the best-of-three Super Regionals – where tickets to coveted Omaha will be punched. 

So who are the 64 teams that are spread out at 16 different sites around the country? Who’s advancing to the Super’s? Let’s give our regional picks and who to watch out for as we continue to inch closer to crowning a champion of college baseball.

Fayetteville Regional 

(1) Arkansas (No. 1 Overall Seed)

(2) Nebraska

(3) Northeastern

(4) NJIT

Regional Player To Watch:

Christian Franklin, OF, Arkansas (.286, 12 HRs, 52 RBIs)

Projected Regional Winner: 

(1) Arkansas 

The Arkansas Razorbacks (46-10, 22-8 SEC) have earned their way to the No. 1 overall seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Big Ten champion Nebraska (31-12, 31-12 Big Ten) could challenge the SEC champs, but this regional should be smooth sailing for Dave Van Horn’s Hogs. 

Austin Regional

(1) Texas (No. 2 Overall Seed)

(2) Arizona State 

(3) Fairfield 

(4) Southern

Regional Player To Watch:

Ty Madden, RHP, Texas (6-4, 2.66 ERA)

Projected Regional Winner:

(2) Texas 

One of the winningest programs in college baseball history is back at it yet again. The Austin Regional holds challengers such as Pac-12 mainstay Arizona State (32-20, 16-14 Pac-12) and nearly unblemished Fairfield (37-3, 33-1 MAAC). But the Longhorns will ride their dominant starting pitching into the Super Regionals. 

Knoxville Regional

(1) Tennessee (No. 3 Overall Seed)

(2) Duke 

(3) Liberty 

(4) Wright State 

Regional Player To Watch:

Jake Rucker, 3B, Tennessee (.332, 7 HRs, 50 RBIs)

Projected Regional Winner:

(3) Tennessee

For a No. 3 overall seed, this is actually quite a tough regional for the Tennessee Volunteers (45-16, 20-10 SEC). The SEC runner-ups get both the Duke Blue Devils (32-20, 16-17 ACC), who just won the ACC and is one of the hottest teams in college baseball, and the always pesky Liberty Flames (39-14, 19-2 Atlantic Sun). It’s tempting to go against the host here, but the Vols will ride offensive performances from both Rucker and Liam Spence (.353, 3 HRs, 30 RBIs) to a regional championship. 

Nashville Regional

(1) Vanderbilt (No. 4 Overall Seed)

(2) Georgia Tech 

(3) Indiana State 

(4) Presbyterian

Regional Player To Watch:

Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt (8-3, 2.28 ERA)

Projected Regional Winner:

(4) Vanderbilt

This is a no-brainer. The “VandyBoys” (40-15, 19-10 SEC) win in June. When head coach Tim Corbin can run guys out there like Leiter and Kumar Rocker (11-3, 2.86 ERA) out there, it certainly doesn’t hurt. The Commodores will advance to yet another Super Regional. 

Tucson Regional

(1) Arizona (No. 5 Overall Seed)

(2) Oklahoma State 

(3) UC Santa Barbara 

(4) Grand Canyon

Regional Player To Watch:

Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara (9-1, 2.92 ERA)

Projected Regional Winner:

Oklahoma State

Whoa, now. Our first big upset is off the board, and it comes at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (35-17-1, 12-12 Big 12). Sure, Arizona (40-15, 21-9 Pac-12) may be one of the best offensive teams in the country, but Josh Holliday’s team is hot. They’ll take down the nationally-seeded Wildcats with some offense of their own led by Christian Encarnacion-Strand (.362, 15 HRs, 66 RBIs). 

Fort Worth Regional

(1) TCU (No. 6 Overall Seed)

(2) Oregon State

(3) Dallas Baptist 

(4) McNeese State 

Regional Player To Watch:

Russell Smith, LHP, TCU (7-3, 3.84 ERA)

Projected Regional Winner:

(6) TCU

Aforementioned Oklahoma State may be hot, but its hopes of a Big 12 championship came to a screeching halt when it ran into the mighty TCU Horned Frogs (40-17, 17-7 Big 12) in the title game. Pac-12 foe Oregon State (34-22, 16-14 Pac-12) has had its fair share of success on the road to Omaha over the years. But the Horned Frogs will do just enough to outhit a powerful Beaver offense, and defend their home turf in route to the Super’s. 

Starkville Regional

(1) Mississippi State (No. 7 Overall Seed)

(2) Virginia Commonwealth  

(3) Campbell

(4) Samford 

Regional Player To Watch:

Will Bednar, RHP, Texas (6-1, 3.23 ERA)

Projected Regional Winner:

(7) Mississippi State 

Being in a regional with Mississippi State (40-15, 20-10 SEC) is always a tough task, especially in Starkville. The VCU Rams (37-13, 13-3 Atlantic 10), having won 21 straight games, could be a threat to the Bulldogs’ hopes of securing their first national title. But you never bet against Chris Lemonis in “Starkvegas.”

Lubbock Regional

(1) Texas Tech (No. 8 Overall Seed)

(2) UCLA

(3) North Carolina 

(4) Army 

Regional Player To Watch:

Matt McLain, SS, UCLA (.323, 9 HRs, 28 RBIs)

Projected Regional Winner:

UCLA 

You talk about a high-powered regional with some high-profile names. In all honesty, there are three teams here that are very capable of winning this regional. That is not something that you see too often in a regional involving a top-eight seed. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (36-15, 14-10 Big 12) are always tough to beat in Lubbock, but UCLA (35-18, 18-12 Pac-12) will do just that behind huge offensive weekends from both McLain, and JT Schwartz (.405, 7 HRs, 41 RBIs).