Here’s a look at each of the eight teams in the 2002 College World Series, including
their record and RPI as well as a brief summary on how they got here.....
Georgia Tech breezed through their regional, winning three consecutive games and easily advancing to the Super Regionals. GT had to defeat in-state rival Georgia on Sunday to move on. In the Supers, the Jackets faced surprise-team Florida Atlantic, who won the Tuscaloosa regional. Again, the Jackets had no problems, winning the Friday and Saturday games to move on to Omaha.
The Gamecocks easily made it through the first two days of the regional action. On Sunday, however, they lost the first game to UNC and faced elimination. USC then bounced back, though, and won the right to advance. In the Supers, the Gamecocks had to take on defending champion Miami. After winning on Friday, USC dropped the Saturday game. Carolina bounced back and won on Sunday to clinch an Omaha berth.
The Cornhuskers hosted both the regional and Super Regional again this year. Nebraska had no trouble in the regional, winning three consecutive games including their Sunday victory over Southwest Missouri State. Surprise-team Richmond came in for the Super Regional. Nebraska won a close one Friday, but the Spiders won on a walk-off homerun Saturday. On Sunday, however, the Huskers bounced back and are in Omaha for the second year in a row.
Clemson, like some of the other CWS participants, easily took the regional weekend, winning three games in a row including a Sunday championship win over East Carolina. The surprising Arkansas Razorbacks came into Clemson for the Super Regional. After dropping the Friday night game, the Tigers rebounded for consecutive wins on Saturday and Sunday to advance to the College World Series.
The Fighting Irish, surprising to me, easily advanced out of their own regional with back-to-back-to-back wins, the final victory on Sunday against Ohio State. The Super Regional was held at Florida State, the number one seed in the nation. Notre Dame won the first game, and Saturday’s game was rained out. On Sunday, the Seminoles claimed the victory and forced a Monday game. Notre Dame prevailed and is in Omaha for the 2002 CWS.
The Stanford Cardinal are the lone West Coast team in the 2002 CWS. They played in the nation’s toughest regional this season. The Cardinal, however, won it in only three games, the last of which was a Sunday victory over Long Beach State. Fellow PAC 10 member Southern Cal came in for the Super Regional. Stanford easily put away the Trojans in the first two games and moves on to Omaha.
The Longhorns played in one of the easier regionals and had no problems with it. The Horns won the first two games and capped it off with a Sunday championship win over in-state and in-conference rival Baylor. C-USA champ Houston came in for the Super Regional. After UT won the Friday game, the Cougars bounced back for a Saturday win to set up a Sunday showdown. The Horns advance to the CWS thanks to a Sunday win over the Houston Cougars.
The Rice Owls won their first two regional games before dropping the first Sunday game to Washington. Rice, however, bounced back with authority, winning the second game by twelve runs. LSU came into Houston for the Super Regional, but the Owls easily disposed of the Tigers with two consecutive victories, not letting the Tigers get a run in either game.
The rankings to the left are how I would rate the eight teams coming into the College World Series. The rankings are strictly my opinion and have nothing to do with RPI or anything else. I based them on how the teams have played throughout the season as a whole and also on how they have played lately: if they eased through their respective regional and Super Regional or if they struggled to make it to Omaha. This is not necessarily the order that I think the teams will finish in the College World Series. Clemson has been stellar all year, as have Stanford and South Carolina. Rice, Georgia Tech, and Texas have all come on strong lately. Nebraska got the benefit of playing the past two weekends at home (not that they're not a good team though). Notre Dame is the biggest surprise in this year's CWS field.
To the right is how strong I feel each first round matchup is, from strongest to weakest. Texas vs Rice is not only a matchup of in-state rivals but also of two teams with more than 50 wins and RPI’s in the top ten. Georgia Tech and South Carolina is a southeast matchup between two teams that also have more than 50 wins each and these teams have top five RPI rankings. Nebraska vs Clemson is intriguing because Clemson is obviously (at least to me) the hottest team coming in, but they must play in Nebraska’s home state and against the Huskers’ ace pitcher. Finally, Notre Dame vs Stanford should be a good matchup, but Notre Dame is probably the weakest team in Omaha this season.
Here are my predictions on the 2002 College World Series....