How the College World Series bracket works — and what NC State needs to do to win it all

·3 min read

N.C. State’s wins in its first two College World Series games has the Wolfpack closer to winning a national championship in the sport than the program has been since 1968.

So what does the Wolfpack have to do now? Still win three more games.

Determining college baseball’s national champion is far different than how the postseason plays out in football or basketball.

By the time N.C. State plays again on Friday, the Pack will be in the national semifinals, among the sport’s final four teams, just as it was in 1968.

But unlike 1968, when N.C. State lost 2-0 to Southern California in the semifinals, the College World Series champion is decided by a best-of-three series between the two remaining teams following double-elimination bracket play.

Confused? Perhaps. So here’s a breakdown:

College World Series brackets

The eight teams that survived regional and Super Regional play earlier this month advanced to Omaha for the College World Series. The eight teams were divided into two four-team brackets.

Bracket one includes N.C. State, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Arizona.

Bracket two has Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi State.

Bracket play began last Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. A double-elimination format is used to determine the two bracket champions who will meet in next week’s best-of-three championship series.

What’s happened in NC State’s bracket so far?

In bracket one on Saturday, N.C. State beat Stanford, 10-4, while Vanderbilt edged Arizona, 7-6, in 12 innings.

That set up Monday’s games where the two losing teams from Saturday, Stanford and Arizona, met in an elimination game while Saturday’s winner’s played later that night.

On Monday afternoon, Stanford beat Arizona 14-5 to eliminate Arizona. On Monday night, N.C. State beat Vanderbilt, 1-0.

So now, Stanford and Vanderbilt will play Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN in an elimination game. The loser is done while the winner advances to play N.C. State at 2 p.m. on Friday on ESPN2.

What about the other bracket?

Bracket two started play on Sunday so they are a day behind N.C. State’s bracket.

On Sunday, Virginia beat Tennessee, 6-0, while Mississippi State handled Texas, 2-1.

So, Texas and Tennessee play an elimination game on Tuesday at 2 p.m on ESPNU. The loser is out of the tournament. The winner advances to another elimination game on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Virginia and Mississippi State play Tuesday night, with the winner landing in the same position as N.C. State and is one win away from the national championship series.

The survivor of Texas-Tennessee plays the loser of Tuesday night’s Virginia-Mississippi State game on Thursday. Whoever wins that Thursday game will advance to a game Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN against the winner of Tuesday night’s Virginia-Mississippi State game.

A Saturday game could be played in this bracket, if necessary, if two teams remain alive, meaning just one CWS loss, following Friday’s games.

How can the Pack advance to the championship series?

Because N.C. State has yet to lose in the College World Series, it needs only to win either Friday or Saturday to advance. Either Vanderbilt or Stanford will have to beat N.C. State both Friday and Saturday to advance.

So, if the Wolfpack wins Friday’s game, there will be no Saturday game in this bracket.

What’s the schedule for the championship series?

The best-of-three series starts Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, with game two scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

If a third game is needed, it will be played Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

What about tickets?

Tickets are available for all remaining College World Series games at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Full capacity is allowed. The only change, due to COVID-19, is no tickets are for general admission. All seats are reserved.

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