Not only do the reigning NCAA champions in baseball hail from the Pacific-12 Conference, but the current Top 25 is loaded with teams from the Conference of Champions: Four of the 13 top teams in the country reside in the Pac-12, including three of the top five.
The UCLA Bruins are ranked No. 1, followed closely by the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal and the No. 5 Oregon State Beavers—the defending national champs. The Arizona State Sun Devils are ranked No. 13, while four other teams in the conference having winning records so far this season.
The College World Series determines the NCAA title, and it is a fickle thing. Just ask the Beavers, who posted a whopping 56-6 record—including a conference record 27 league victories—in 2017 but did not win the national championship despite advancing into the winner’s bracket in Omaha, NE.
Yet a year later, Oregon State went 55-12-1, while winning just 20 games in conference, and claimed its third national title since 2006, becoming just the second team to do so after losing the opening game of the championship series (not to mention coming out of the loser’s bracket as well).
The sport of baseball, like hockey, has the most unpredictable postseasons, and college baseball is excellent dramatic theater in this way.
[For the record, the Pac-12 Conference has won 18 national championships in the sport, the most of any conference in the NCAA. Overall, teams now in the league have collected 29 titles: USC (12), Arizona State (5), Arizona (4), Oregon State (3), California (2), Stanford (2), and UCLA (1) have all won the baseball championship.]
Chances look solid right now for another Pac-12 team to win it all, yet there is a lot of baseball yet to be played. The CWS doesn’t conclude until the last week of June, usually, which means we still have 2.5 months of hardball action ahead of us.
There are 30 games in regular-season conference play, and the Cardinal top the league right now with a 7-2 record in games against Pac-12 teams. There is a three-way tie for second place at 9-3 between ASU, OSU, and UCLA. California and Oregon are tied in fifth place with 5-4 marks, while Arizona, USC, and Washington are level in seventh place with 5-7 records in conference play. Utah (1-11) and Washington State (0-9) are at the bottom of the standings, as Colorado does not have an NCAA baseball program.
Each of the 11 teams plays a three-game series against the other ten schools, alternating home series every year to keep things as even as possible. Each team gets 15 home conference games and 15 away conference games.
There is no Pacific-12 Conference Tournament at the end of the season like some of the other leagues, so the regular-season champion is the sole title winner for the sport. Depending on perceived merit, the NCAA then selects 64 teams for the double-elimination College World Series, starting with regional competitions and followed by Super Regional play, and then on to the CWS finals (eight teams) in Omaha.
How this season will turn out is anyone’s guess, but with at least four of the top teams in the country ready for postseason play already, the Pac-12 will be tough to contend with on the road to Omaha.
Check in regularly for Pac-12 baseball updates!