When does college baseball start ? NCAA baseball teams have taken to the field this fall to prep for the upcoming 2024 campaign. But, when exactly can college baseball fans expect to see the next wave of MLB prospects to hit the field and begin the 2024 season? Here’s when the 2024 NCAA baseball season will start, plus a look at some opening weekend matchups that we know of so far.
The start of the 2024 NCAA Baseball Season
Opening day of the 2024 NCAA Division 1 baseball regular season is on February 16, 2024.
Be mindful that the beginning for each team in the NCAA baseball season can vary, thanks to weather and/or pending schedule changes. However, teams that have rolled out schedules have indicated that their years will begin on the 16th.
The first weekend of the 2024 NCAA baseball season will include a number of notable tournaments, including the annual MLB Desert Invitational and the Shriner’s Showdown. Baylor, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas Tech will participate in the tournament at Globe Field in Texas — also the home for the 2024 MLB All-Star Game.
The Louisiana State Tigers Tigers, the defending NCAA champions, will open up the 2024 campaign at home in Alex Box Stadium for four out-of-conference matchups. LSU will face VMI on February 16 and 18 in the first weekend of the 2024 campaign, and Central Arkansas on the 17th and 19th.
2023 NCAA baseball championship runner-up Florida, meanwhile, will face a Big East school in the St. John’s Red Storm at home for the opening weekend of the 2024 season.
When will the 2022 college baseball season begin?
The college baseball season will officially get started on Feb. 18. Some teams may not start that day, but they’ll get going shortly after that.
Like their softball contemporaries, there are certain baseball programs that have to account for being located in a colder climate. It’s not uncommon to see teams from the Midwest make a trip elsewhere to play.
Take the Kansas Jayhawks and the Illinois Fighting Illini for example here. The Jayhawks and Fighting Illini will face off in Corpus Christi, Texas (home to the original Whataburger).
Up in Arlington, Texas at Globe Life Field, the State Farm College Baseball Showdown will have a few different high-profile programs in town to compete in a mini-tournament. The Auburn Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Kansas State Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats, and Michigan Wolverines will be present.
Notable college baseball games to watch on Feb. 18
The Long Beach State Dirtbags, one of the best underdog programs around, is headed to Starkville to face the defending national champs, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It’s a bit of a David vs. Goliath sort of matchup that LBSU won last time these teams met in 2020. That game time hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s a must-watch matchup.
Another series to keep an eye on would be the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ road trip to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores which starts at 5:30 p.m. ET. This matchup features two teams that are aiming to make it back to Omaha.
It’ll definitely be worth keeping an eye on Arlington as the College Baseball Showdown hosts a few teams looking to make a splash on the national picture. Auburn will face Oklahoma at 12 p.m. After that, Kansas State and Arizona will play at 4 p.m. Rounding out the day in north Texas are the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Michigan Wolverines at 8 p.m.
2023 preseason rankings
To get started, let’s take a look at some composite rankings. What we’ve done is taken each of the six major preseason polls (Baseball America, Perfect Game, USA Today coaches’ poll, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball Magazine, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association) and assigned “poll points” to each team ranked in the top 25 of each poll. No. 1 teams get 25 points, No. 2 teams get 24 points, all the way down to the No. 25 teams, which get one point. We add all the points up — across, again, all six major polls — and arrive at our composite preseason rankings.
LSU was ranked No. 1 in all six preseason polls, which means they racked up the maximum 150 poll points. Time was when LSU was the dominant program in all of college baseball, but that hasn’t been the case for a while. They last won the national championship in 2009, and they haven’t made the College World Series field of eight since 2017. In 2023, however, second-year head coach Jay Johnson has assembled what may be LSU’s best team in quite some time. Center fielder Dylan Crews is a true star, NC State transfer Tommy White (the ACC Freshman of the Year) gives them another big bat, and there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to right-handed pitching up and down the roster. Throw in the rigors of the SEC schedule, and LSU, if healthy, should be ready for a very deep run in the postseason.
As for reigning champ Ole Miss, they check in at No. 10 in the composite rankings, and one outlet had them as high as No. 4. They’ve addressed lineup departures with some key transfers, and in the rotation freshman righty Grayson Saunier has the potential to be the top debutante in college baseball this season.
How the NCAA Tournament and College World Series work
Given that college baseball isn’t as widely followed as the football and basketball collegiate variants, perhaps a brief postseason explainer is in order. Here’s how it all works, in bullet-point format for today’s harried sales professional …
The first round of play is known as the regional, and it’s a double-elimination format featuring four teams. Each of the 16 one-seeds hosts its respective regional, when possible. Only one team out of four survives each regional.
The winner of each regional advances to the super regional, which is a best-of-three series between two regional winners.
The winner of each super regional — eight teams in all — advances to the College World Series in Omaha.
The College World Series is a double-elimination format until the final two teams are left standing. At that point, the slates are wiped clean, and it’s a best-of-three series to determine the national champion.
The field of 64 also includes eight national national seeds, which you may consider the pre-tourney favorites to reach Omaha. National seeds get to host super regionals should they advance that far.
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