CWS Top Teams Bracket: 2001 Miami vs. 2011 FloridaFeatured
Today would have been the first day of the 2020 College World Series. Since we don’t have live baseball to watch, we’re taking a look back at the greatest CWS teams of the modern 64-team NCAA tournament era. In conjunction with NCAA.com, we’ve made our picks for the 32 best Omaha teams since 1999 and seeded them into a bracket.
Now it’s your turn. Each day, we’ll present a few matchups for fans to vote on, as we work our way through the bracket to determine the greatest College World Series team of the super regional era.
2001 Miami Hurricanes (53-12, CWS Champion)
No. 9 seed
The Hurricanes had a magical 2001 season and did something no team has done in the modern era — win the national title as the top national seed in the NCAA tournament. It’s hard to imagine no one has accomplished that feat, but it’s the truth. Here’s a tip of the cap to the ‘Canes for doing it. It’s incredibly difficult to do with a target on your back.
Not only was Miami’s run through the College World Series and tournament that year impressive, it was also unblemished. The Hurricanes defeated Bucknell, Florida and Stetson in order in the Coral Gables Regional before sweeping Clemson in a Super Regional, scoring 24 runs in the process. Once in Omaha, Miami put up a 21 spot on Tennessee in its first game in Omaha before defeating USC, Tennessee again (this time with 12 runs) and beating Stanford in the national title game in dominant fashion, 12-1.
To give you an idea of how times have changed with the bats in college baseball, one gander at the team batting averages in the 2001 CWS is hilarious. For instance, Tennessee led the field with a whopping .394 team batting average, while the champion Hurricanes were second with a .373 average. The Hurricanes finished third in staff ERA with a 5.75 clip, while also leading the field with a .987 fielding percentage. Danny Matienzo led the ‘Canes in the CWS with a ridiculous .588 average, Kevin Mannix had a .538 average and Kevin Brown hit .467 with three home runs. Current UCF head coach Greg Lovelady also was a member of the squad.
At some point, a team will win the national title again as the top national seed. But for now? It’s a flag that is firmly planted by the 2001 Miami club.
2011 Florida Gators (53-19 overall; CWS runner-up)
No. 24 seed
The Gators played for a national title for the second time in the 2000s in 2011. UF played Texas for the national title in 2005 but fell short of the ultimate goal. This time around, the Gators were tasked with trying to knock destined South Carolina off its perch. UF fell short yet again, but it was an incredible run to the CWS Finals. Florida defeated Manhattan and Miami (twice) to advance to the Super Regional round before taking two of three from Mississippi State to advance to the College World Series.
Once in Omaha, the Gators put together a rather drama-free run through their side of the bracket. UF defeated Texas before double-dipping SEC East rival Vanderbilt 3-1 and 6-4 to advance to the CWS Finals against the Gamecocks. UF dropped the first game to the Gamecocks, 2-1, before losing 5-2 to finish as the national runner-up. It was a disappointing end to a magical season, but a lot of accomplished and this run set the stage for UF’s eventual national championship in 2017.
In that 2011 CWS, to give you an idea of how different the bats are, UF hit .245, which ranked fourth in the field. South Carolina, the top team, ended the CWS with a .263 team batting average. A little different, eh? Too funny. By comparison, Florida finished the tournament with an impressive 1.96 team ERA, two spots behind South Carolina, which had a 0.88 ERA. Florida finished the tournament sixth in fielding with a .963 clip.
In terms of individual standouts in 2011, Bryson Smith led the Gators with a .368 average and two RBIs, while current Big Leaguer Mike Zunino hit .316. Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson (now a coach at South Florida) were the headliners on the mound. Randall had two starts and a 1.26 ERA in 14.1 innings, along with 11 strikeouts and a walk, while Whitson had a 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings, along with nine strikeouts and three walks. Nick Maronde, Austin Maddox and Greg Larson had unblemished marks out of the bullpen.
This was a strong run, and has since been followed by five CWS appearances for Kevin O’Sullivan’s program.
How They Match Up: Comparing the Gators and Hurricanes is pretty difficult. The ‘Canes get the edge for having such an insanely dominant run through the NCAA tournament back in 2001, and for being the only top-seeded team to win the national title. However, those were different times. How would things look if Mike Zunino swung with those old bats? Still, Miami gets the clear-cut edge in the offensive category, while Florida gets the edge in the pitching category. It’s always fun when the two Sunshine State rivals tangle.
Comparing @CanesBaseball and @GatorsBB is pretty difficult. Miami gets the clear-cut edge in the offensive category, while Florida gets the edge in the pitching category. Who do you think would get the dub?
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 15, 2020