The 2011 NCAA baseball tournament has finally reached the College World Series and the final act of the Cal baseball team's Cinderella story will play out on a national stage. The Golden Bears are the only team not seeded number one in their region to advance to this point in the tournament, and as a three seed they have a mountain of work left in front of them. The Bears will open with the number one overall seed in the tournament in the Virginia Cavaliers. The tournament has numerous twists and turns so it's hard to predict ensuing matchups, but we do know they will play either South Carolina or Texas A&M in round two.
We'll break down the bracket in the coming days, but for now, NCAA.com has a rundown of the television schedule for the 2011 College World Series. ESPN and ESPN2 will host all the games with Cal opening their CWS appearance Sunday June 19 on ESPN. You can view the full bracket at ncaa.com through their interactive bracket. If you click on "CWS Teams In" you can view the entire CWS bracket.
While The 2011 College World Series bracket features a host of nationally ranked teams as five of the top six teams in the NCAA's Baseball RPI will be playing in Omaha. Cal's magical run will face a stiff test as they are easily the lowest ranked team in this eight-team field. They hold an RPI of 45 with the next closest team being the Texas Longhorns at 12th in the country.
I'm not finding college baseball odds right now, but I'd have to imagine Cal would have the longest odds of the remaining teams. Of course, given the odds of Cal even having a baseball team at this point, this team seems to thrive on long shot odds. It takes more than perseverance to win a national championship or any title, but I don't think anybody would be shocked if the Cinderella run continued.
Cal reached this point after having to battle through the loser's bracket of their region. After opening the tournament with a loss to Baylor, Cal eliminated fourth seeded Alcorn State and then regional host Rice. They followed that up with a pair of wins over Baylor to charge into the super regionals round. In the super regionals, you could argue they caught a break as fellow three-seed Dallas Baptist sprung a couple upsets in their region to advance. Cal had little trouble with the Patriots as they swept them in two games to advance to the 2011 College World Series.
Cal is now at a point where Cinderella is going to have to step up her game. While Dallas Baptist was certainly not a gimme pair of games, the level of competition is increasing considerably. If Cal wins this College World Series tournament, they will have spent the ten days beating the best competition in the country.
We'll be here for the next two weeks following this crazy ride to whatever its conclusion might be. We'll have news updates, previews and recaps throughout. If you're looking for some more discussion on Cal's crazy journey, head over to California Golden Blogs.