As we gear up for another thrilling college baseball postseason, we begin the regional round on Friday, May 31st, where 64 teams battle to advance to the super regionals and get to the College World Series in Omaha. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, there are a couple of things to note before you dive into the betting markets.

Know The Format

The Field of 64 is divided into 16 Regionals across the country, where each will play host as the #1 seed to a group of three other teams, seeded 2-4. The #1 seed is the defacto home team, where they’ll open up the weekend against the #4 seed. Think of this round as a #1 seed vs a #16 seed in March Madness. The great dynamic of College Baseball is that some coaches opt to play a chess match, where they will elect to throw their ace in the eventual game against the winner of the #2 vs #3 seed. So, while the #1 seed is usually a heavy favorite against the #4, upsets do happen. The four teams will play a double elimination tournament over the weekend for a chance to go to the Super Regionals the following weekend. If it seems confusing, remember that the entire baseball postseason format can be summed up in one simple, reassuring statement: Don’t lose twice in any given round.

Betting Regional Futures

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been given a new betting market in college baseball, and one of my favorite things to bet on is “To win the Regional.” This is a great opportunity to build your bankroll without worrying about wagering on a game-by-game basis. When handicapping the Regional Futures, I always start by looking at the probable starting pitchers and bullpen depth. I often joke that a college baseball game is never over with a metal bat and bad bullpens, and oftentimes, you can see six or eight-run leads evaporate rather quickly. One great tool we’ve developed at CollegeBaseballInsiders.com is an interactive “Matchup Preview” where you can choose an away team, the home team, and the starting pitchers (don’t worry, we provide those to you). A couple of seconds later, you’re given an Insiders Win Probability. If you download our 2024 Regional Betting Guide, we’ve taken the guesswork out of it and have provided readers with the win probabilities for all 64 teams to advance through the region.

Back The Arms, Not The Bats

A general rule of thumb when handicapping college baseball games is to remember that pitching typically travels well, but hitting does not. You’d be amazed by the splits in college baseball when comparing team-hitting statistics at home vs the road. Going back to my original statement where I said the first thing I handicap is the pitching staff, this is why. In most cases, you can trust a team’s ace on any field. The same cannot always be said about a team that may stack up the stat column in the hitting categories, especially when on the road. As you bet games or regional futures, I would tend to stick the teams that dominate the regional in the pitching categories over the teams that dominate in the hitting. They’ll be the obvious choice if you find a team that can do both, like Tennessee or Texas A&M, which is why they’re the shortest shots to win it all.

Chalk Talk

College baseball is a very chalky sport when you step back and look at it. Yes, sometimes in midweek games, you may see some big upsets over a top-ranked team by a team you’ve likely never heard of before, but when the postseason rolls around, the cream almost always rises to the top. Looking back over the last five years, all of your eventual National Champions have shared some interesting characteristics. They were all preseason ranked in the Top 10 (yes, even Ole Miss after their improbable run at the 2022 National Championship began the season #5). All had a Team wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created, using wOBA, scaled where 100 is the average) above 100 (or above average) as well as a Team SIERA (Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average) under 3.50. Lastly, all five of the previous national champions had a road record above .500. If that trend continues, the field of potential national championship contenders is narrowed down to only two teams: Texas A&M and Tennessee. Oh, and one more thing… The #1 overall seed hasn’t won the National Championship since 1999 when Miami did it. This year’s #1 overall seed is the Tennessee Volunteers. So, if you believe in trends, it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and grab a Texas A&M +600 ticket.

Matt Grissom writes for CollegeBaseballInsiders.com