Wake Forest, LSU and Florida are the College World Series favorites

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 26: Brock Wilken #25 and Nick Kurtz #8 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons celebrate a run against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the fifth inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 26, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Wake Forest’s Brock Wilken (L) and Nick Kurtz are two of the best hitters in college baseball and a big reason why the Demon Deacons enter the College World Series as the favorites. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Wake Forest enters the men’s College World Series as the top seed and the favorite to win the national title. But bettors like two other teams more than the Demon Deacons.

Wake is +250 to win the national title ahead of the first pitch of the CWS on Friday in Omaha. The Demon Deacons are led by a stellar pitching staff anchored by starter Rhett Lowder who is 15-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 115 innings. Wake Forest 1B Nick Kurtz is fourth in the country with an 1.361 OPS while 3B Brock Wilken is fifth at 1.351. Wilken is one of just three players in college baseball with 30 homers.

But LSU is bettors’ favorite team. The Tigers are the No. 2 favorite at BetMGM at +375 and have received 31% of bets and 34% of the money bet on the national champion.

LSU features the top two prospects in MLB.com’s draft rankings. Tigers OF Dylan Crews is the top overall prospect on the board for 2023 while pitcher Paul Skenes is the top pitcher. Skenes has a 1.77 ERA and a staggering 188 strikeouts in 107 innings while pitching in the best conference in baseball. Crews is hitting .434 and has 17 homers and 65 walks to go with just 40 strikeouts.

Bettors also like Tennessee to win the national title at +800. The Vols are the No. 5 favorite among the eight teams that are in Omaha and are getting 18% of bets and 20% of the cash. Tennessee beat Southern Miss in the Super Regional to get to Omaha and has five players with at least 12 homers.

Wake Forest is getting the third-most money and bets.

It’s impossible for Wake to face either Tennessee or LSU in the title series too. The Demon Deacons, Tigers and Volunteers are all on the same side of the bracket along with a Stanford team that got to the World Series thanks to a fortuitously timed lost ball in the lights by the Texas outfield.

Whoever emerges from that side is favored to face Florida in the championship series. The Gators are the No. 3 favorite for the national title at +400 and are a strong pick to win because of the relative strength of its bracket. Florida has Virginia (+600), TCU (+850) and Oral Roberts (+2500) to get through to make it to the title series.

Friday’s action begins with Oral Roberts facing TCU and Virginia taking on Florida with the loser of that game between two of the top four favorites immediately finding itself a loss away from elimination. Saturday’s action includes the other side of the bracket with Wake Forest facing off against Stanford and LSU playing Tennessee.

U.S. Open begins Round 2

There were some impressive scores during the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday as players were able to attack pins at the Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course.

Both Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler shot tournament-record 62s in the first round and sit atop the leaderboard at 8-under. Schauffele is the current tournament favorite at +333 while Rory McIlroy is second at +500. McIlroy is three shots back of the lead after he ended his first round with a long bogey putt.

Fowler is at +650 while pre-tournament favorite Scottie Scheffler is at +700 and Dustin Johnson is at +800. Johnson is two shots back in a tie for third with Wyndham Clark (+1400) while Scheffler is in a tie for seventh at 3-under with Bryson DeChambeau (+2500), Si Woo Kim (+5000), Paul Barjon (+40000), Harris English (+10000), Sam Bennett (+20000) and Mackenzie Hughes (+15000).

A full slate of MLB action

The Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs kick off what should be a fun Father’s Day weekend in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles are slight favorites in that matinee while the Cardinals visit the Mets in a matchup of disappointing teams. The Cardinals are also slight road favorites and are +140 to win by two or more runs.

We have yet another matchup between the Yankees and Red Sox — they play on Fox on Saturday night and ESPN on Sunday night again — and a series for first place in the middling NL Central between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee opens that series as a slight favorite.

Who cashed tickets on Thursday?

If you had a comfortable USMNT win, you collected from an ugly 3-0 victory over Mexico that ended early and featured four red cards. The game was stopped because of homophobic fan chants towards U.S. goalie Matt Turner and each team had two players receive red cards.

The Angels beat the Rangers 5-3 on Thursday night as Shohei Ohtani showed why he’s the best player in baseball. Ohtani struck out three in six innings and allowed just two runs while also hitting his 22nd homer of the year. That bomb was a 2-run shot that broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning.