College World Series odds

Last year at this time, I was complaining about how the Division One tournament committee screwed over Virginia’s chances of getting very far in the tournament. The Cavaliers overcame Stephen Strasburg and an undeserved No. 2 seed on their way to Omaha. Since then, a lot of things have changed.

Now, nobody’s looking past Virginia. This weekend, the Cavaliers will be the host and top seed at their regional, and their status as the national No. 5 seed means they’ll host a super-regional as well, if they make it that far.

The 2010 bracket ain’t perfect, but there’s nothing quite so glaring as what was asked of the Cavs last year.

According to my numbers—which are based on Pythagorean win-loss records, combined with strength-of-schedule ratings and adjusted for home-field advantage—six of the eight national seeds are actually among the eight best teams in the country. Texas Christian didn’t get a seed but deserved one; Florida got one despite sitting outside the top 20 in my rankings.

The quirkiest bit of the bracket is the UConn regional. It’s the only foursome this weekend where the host isn’t the top seed; Florida State gets that honor. But wait—I’ve got UConn as the ninth-best team in the country and the Seminoles as 17th. Maybe the selection committee likes Tyler Holt, too.

The odds

Here’s a quick rundown of how the tournament works, for the uninitiated. This weekend, the 64 teams play four-team double-elimination tournaments—the regionals. Each regional winner advances to a “super-regional,” a best-of-three series for a spot in Omaha.

That leaves eight teams in the College World Series. The remaining eight are split up into two four-team pools, each of which plays another double-elimination tournament. The two winners then face off in a best-of-three series to determine the national champion.

Armed with an adjusted winning percentage for each team, we can run a Monte Carlo simulation of the tournament. For each team, I’ve shown the probability that it advances to a super-regional, reaches Omaha, wins a spot in the final weekend, and takes the national championship.

Team                       SuperReg  Omaha  FinalTwo  Champ  
Arizona State                 80.6%  59.9%     20.9%  12.7%  
Wisconsin Milwaukee            3.2%   0.6%      0.0%   0.0%  
Hawaii                         5.1%   1.2%      0.0%   0.0%  
San Diego                     11.1%   3.6%      0.2%   0.1%  

Arkansas                      62.4%  25.0%      5.2%   2.4%  
Grambling State                0.9%   0.0%      0.0%   0.0%  
Kansas State                  15.6%   3.8%      0.3%   0.1%  
Washington State              21.1%   5.9%      0.6%   0.2%  

Auburn                        44.8%  19.4%      2.9%   1.2%  
Jacksonville State             6.3%   1.2%      0.0%   0.0%  
Southern Mississippi          16.0%   5.0%      0.4%   0.1%  
Clemson                       32.8%  14.1%      2.1%   0.9%  

Georgia Tech                  64.9%  46.4%     12.7%   7.2%  
Mercer                         8.4%   2.9%      0.2%   0.0%  
Elon                           9.4%   3.3%      0.2%   0.0%  
Alabama                       17.3%   7.8%      0.7%   0.2%  

Team                       SuperReg  Omaha  FinalTwo  Champ 
Virginia                      74.9%  52.5%     16.5%   9.8%  
Virginia Commonwealth          3.5%   0.7%      0.0%   0.0%  
St. John's                    10.6%   3.3%      0.2%   0.1%  
Mississippi                   10.9%   3.5%      0.2%   0.1%  

Oklahoma                      52.9%  24.6%      5.6%   2.8%  
Oral Roberts                   6.5%   1.3%      0.1%   0.0%  
North Carolina                26.3%  10.0%      1.5%   0.6%  
California                    14.3%   4.1%      0.4%   0.1%  

South Carolina                54.4%  20.3%      4.0%   1.8%  
Bucknell                       5.1%   0.6%      0.0%   0.0%  
The Citadel                   11.2%   2.1%      0.1%   0.0%  
Virginia Tech                 29.3%   9.1%      1.3%   0.5%  

Coastal Carolina              72.8%  56.6%     22.6%  14.7%  
Stony Brook                    4.4%   1.3%      0.1%   0.0%  
North Carolina State          13.3%   6.1%      0.7%   0.3%  
College Of Charleston          9.5%   3.8%      0.4%   0.1%  

Team                       SuperReg  Omaha  FinalTwo  Champ 
Texas                         60.9%  41.7%     19.6%  11.2%  
Rider                          4.9%   1.3%      0.1%   0.0%  
Louisiana Lafayette           11.1%   4.2%      0.8%   0.2%  
Rice                          23.1%  11.5%      3.4%   1.4%  

Texas Christian               64.0%  32.0%     12.8%   6.5%  
Lamar                          6.4%   1.1%      0.1%   0.0%  
Arizona                       11.2%   2.6%      0.3%   0.1%  
Baylor                        18.4%   5.5%      1.0%   0.3%  

Florida State                 37.3%  18.4%      3.5%   1.3%  
Central Connecticut State      5.4%   1.3%      0.1%   0.0%  
Oregon                        21.7%  10.1%      1.7%   0.6%  
Connecticut                   35.7%  20.1%      5.0%   2.1%  

Louisville                    48.9%  26.3%      5.2%   1.9%  
St. Louis                      2.6%   0.3%      0.0%   0.0%  
Illinois State                 7.5%   1.8%      0.1%   0.0%  
Vanderbilt                    40.9%  21.6%      4.8%   1.8%  

Team                       SuperReg  Omaha  FinalTwo  Champ 
UCLA                          59.9%  41.6%     14.1%   6.8%  
Kent State                    10.8%   4.1%      0.4%   0.1%  
UC Irvine                     13.9%   5.6%      0.7%   0.2%  
Louisiana State               15.4%   6.6%      0.8%   0.2%  

Cal State Fullerton           62.1%  31.7%      8.7%   3.7%  
Minnesota                      8.4%   1.9%      0.1%   0.0%  
New Mexico                    17.8%   5.5%      0.6%   0.1%  
Stanford                      11.8%   3.0%      0.2%   0.0%  

Miami (FL)                    57.0%  34.8%      7.4%   2.9%  
Dartmouth                      5.0%   1.2%      0.0%   0.0%  
Florida International         12.7%   4.8%      0.3%   0.1%  
Texas A&M                     25.3%  12.5%      1.6%   0.5%  

Florida                       50.6%  28.9%      5.2%   1.8%  
Bethune Cookman               15.8%   5.7%      0.4%   0.1%  
Oregon State                  19.4%   7.4%      0.6%   0.1%  
Florida Atlantic              14.2%   4.7%      0.3%   0.1%

With double-elimination tournaments and best-of-three series, anything can happen. But with the top schools granted home-field advantage and some cakewalk opening games against No. 4 seeds, the leaders get a head start. That’s reflected in the relatively high odds for Arizona State, Virginia, Coastal Carolina and Texas.

Another reflection of the tournament construction is the small number of regionals that look truly competitive. Perhaps the most interesting is the UCLA regional, where LSU is seeded second. Based on their performance so far this season, the Tigers didn’t deserve any better, but they have the talent to challenge anybody. A lot rides on Anthony Ranaudo, starting in Game Two.

The other balanced regional, hosted by Florida, is balanced more as a function of its host than its challengers. As noted above, Florida has a weak claim to its national seed, and with traditional powerhouse Oregon State in town, the Gators may not have the opportunity to host a super-regional.

Every year, there are surprises, and the complexion of the tournament can change in a single day’s games. This year, I’ll be posting frequent updates to the odds over at the College Splits blog, so keep checking back to see which teams are most likely to finish their tournament lifting the trophy.

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