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College World Series bracket 2024: From Tennessee to Florida every team in Omaha's strength, weakness

Nashville Tennessean

The 2024 College World Series begins Friday when North Carolina takes on Virginia in the afternoon game at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.

It will be a two-conference CWS bracket, featuring SEC teams Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Florida, and ACC squads North Carolina, Florida State, NC State and Virginia.

Every team in Omaha except Florida hosted a regional, which is the most regional hosts to make it to the final eight since 2013.

Here are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of every team in the field:

No. 1 Tennessee

Where they excel: Tennessee has arguably the best lineup in the country, featuring eight players with double-digit home runs. But it's not all about the power: the Vols have an on-base percentage of .417 and also led the SEC in doubles.

Where they could struggle: Tennessee only has one true starting pitcher, Drew Beam, and he's more of a steady presence than a true ace. The bullpen has been good enough to piece things together but it remains to be seen if that will work going up against the top arms in the country every game.

No. 8 Florida State

Where they excel: Florida State has star power all over. Jamie Arnold is arguably the best starting pitcher in Omaha and he's flanked by two likely first-round picks in the lineup in James Tibbs and Cam Smith.

Where they could struggle: The Seminoles' bullpen has struggled with walks. Just two pitchers with more than 10 appearances walked fewer than four batters per nine for Florida State, and that could become a problem.

No. 4 North Carolina

Where they excel: Vance Honeycutt is one of the most electric players in Omaha, the only player in the country with more than 25 home runs and stolen bases. He's the defensive anchor for a Tar Heels staff that led the ACC in ERA and has one of the country's best bullpen stoppers in Dalton Pence.

Where they could struggle: North Carolina has trailed in four of its six NCAA tournament games with three wins in the ninth inning or later. The Tar Heels' propensity for living on the edge could come back to bite them.

No. 12 Virginia

Where they excel: Virginia's lineup led the ACC in all three of batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. It's a potent lineup that's not overly reliant on home runs, so the Cavaliers should still find ways to score in the cavernous Charles Schwab Field.

Where they could struggle: Evan Blanco has carried the load for the rotation, but Virginia has struggled to find reliable starters behind him. Jay Woolfolk, who started the second game of the super regional, has a 5.95 ERA.

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No. 2 Kentucky

Where they excel: Kentucky's unique style of play has thrown opponents off all season. Rather than relying on home runs, the Wildcats look to get on base, steal bases and put pressure on the defense. It's a style that should work very well in Omaha.

Where they could struggle: Raw talent and star power often win out in the postseason, and the Wildcats can't match up in that department with most of the teams in Omaha.

No. 10 NC State

Where they excel: Uber-experienced super-seniors Sam Highfill, Alec Makarewicz and Garrett Pennington have been leading NC State through the postseason. Makarewicz is the active Division I leader in career games played, and Highfill outdueled Jack Leiter in Omaha in 2021.

Where they could struggle: The Wolfpack have Makarewicz, Pennington and Jacob Cozart at the top of their lineup, but there's not a lot of depth behind them. If any of those three have a slump, it could be difficult for NC State to score.

No. 3 Texas A&M

Where they excel: Texas A&M pairs a fearsome lineup with a true ace in Ryan Prager and one of the best bullpens in the country. If the Aggies get a lead, Evan Aschenbeck and Chris Cortez will be there to shut things down.

Where they could struggle: Texas A&M is banged up. Star outfielder Braden Montgomery suffered a season-ending fractured ankle during the super regional, and left-hander Shane Sdao left his start early with an injury.

Florida

Where they excel: There's star power here in spades with two-way sensation Jac Caglianone and closer Brandon Neely. Many of the core pieces of this team have experience falling just short in Omaha a year ago, so they won't be short on motivation either.

Where they could struggle: The Gators almost missed the NCAA tournament due to a lack of pitching depth. No Florida pitcher with at least 10 innings has an ERA below 4.00, and just three have an ERA below 5.00.

Aria Gerson covers Vanderbilt athletics for The Tennessean. Contact her at agerson@gannett.com or on Twitter .