Fans have been hoping for a showdown between No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 LSU ever since the College World Series bracket was scheduled. Said fans will get to see the anticipated matchup on Tuesday afternoon, too -- albeit under different circumstances than initially imagined.
After a pair of upsets on Sunday, the two odds-on favorites to take the grand prize in Omaha suddenly find themselves battling for survival against each other in the loser's bracket. UNC's over-taxed pitching staff was knocked around in an 8-1 loss to N.C. State whereas pivotal errors cost LSU a tight 2-1 game against UCLA. The loser of Tuesday's contest will find themselves heading home after going 0-2 at Omaha.
The probable pitching matchup for the big game pits UNC's Trent Thornton (11-1, 1.28 ERA) against LSU's Cody Glenn (7-2, 2.41 ERA). It's a risky decision for Tigers coach Paul Mainieri as Glenn, who was suspended for unspecified violations of team rules before the regionals, will be making his first start since May 22 in the first round of the SEC tournament.
The two pitchers will be facing offenses eager to get back to business after being uncharacteristically quiet in their opening game, as both clubs were held to just one run Sunday despite averaging over seven runs per game on the season between them.
Although the marquee matchup is happening in the loser bracket, don't forget about the teams that actually won their opening games because N.C. State and UCLA will meet in the winners' bracket on Tuesday night. The loser of that game will drop down to play the winner of UNC-LSU while the victor sits back and waits until Friday for whatever team fights its way back up to them.
Tuesday's game times and TV coverage are listed below. All times Eastern with national seeds in parentheses.
Game No. 7: (1) North Carolina vs. (4) LSU
Time: 3 p.m.
Game No. 8: UCLA vs. N.C. State
Time: 8 p.m.