College World Series Finals Game 1 Picks: Texas A&M vs Tennessee

College World Series Finals Game 1 Picks: Texas A&M vs Tennessee

This article is part of our College Baseball Picks series.

CWS Game 1 Best Bets: Tennessee vs Texas A&M Game 1 Expert Picks

As usual, there are plenty of ups and downs in a season. 2024 was no exception. The bad reared its head over the last couple weeks in the tournament and Omaha where some of my big ticket futures failed to accomplish the task at hand. At the end of the day even through disappointments, I realize there are lessons in failure. This one happens to be to focused more on top-shelf SEC teams since that's been the key ingredient for the last handful of showdowns. 

We have one more series left, and it's going to be a great one. The #1 team in the country in the Tennessee Volunteers will look to do what nobody has done in 25 years, win it all as the top seed in the country. Meanwhile, Texas A&M will be looking for their first championship. Two great programs littered with elite next-level talent duke it out in the finale. 

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Texas A&M Aggies (+140) @ Tennessee Volunteers (-180) | Total: 11.5

110. That's how many wins these two programs have combined for this season. We'll hit either 112 or 113 by the end of the week. The seasons these two teams have had have been remarkable. The Vols were basically on cruise control all season with never really being challenged. The Aggies hit a little rough stretch in the month of May after losing series at LSU and Ole Miss. And after barely beating Arkansas, they went two and barbecue in the SEC Tournament. Their own region was a handful, but when they advanced and got a challenge in the Supers from Oregon, they lost a couple big pieces in Braden Montgomery and Shane Sdao.

It seems like the Aggies have just been finding ways to win despite the looks of hanging on by a thread. They have been relying on a small handful of key players mainly in the pitching rotation. Because believe me, I had the Aggies as an early exit, and as we've seen getting just a little lucky in game one of Omaha can have a big ripple effect. 

They survived in game one because my 2025 1.1 pick, Jace LaViolette, was playing right field instead of his usual center. And what was the go-ahead 9th inning homer from Cade Kurland was robbed by a 6'6" Laviolette to steal the game. All things being equal though, it's been the pitching that has gotten them this far allowing only three runs in two games against Florida (twice) and Kentucky.

For A&M, it's business as usual. Their Friday guy, Ryan Prager, who has been one of the top 10 or even eight pitchers in college this season will indeed get the ball. When I wrote up the Aggies against UK, I mentioned how Prager hasn't had consecutive blow up outings, and that remained true. Holding strong with a 2.88 ERA and 118 K/20 BB ratio in 93.2 innings, Prager has made himself some money this summer as a draft-eligible arm. T

he only time he faced this Vols team was in the SEC Tournament, but it's hard to take it seriously because neither team was going all out. Prager was on a pitch count, and allowed one run over 2.1 innings. The most comparable offense to the Vols this year was the UGA Bulldogs, who Prager dotted for two runs over six gorgeous frames accompanied by half a dozen punchies. Facing a lineup whose 1-3 hitters are likely all first rounders this summer, the approach is straight forward: limit the free passes, limit the homers (allowed 12 this year), and get ahead in the count. 

The hitting has taken a huge step back. A lot of it has to do with not just losing Montgomery, but an ailing Laviolette. I saw him round third in that Kentucky game when he pulled up a little limp with the hammy. You could tell he's not right, but he's trying to gut it out. Losing Lava Boy in the lineup, field, and base paths is catastrophic. The only reason the Aggies scored six runs in the close out game vs. Florida on Wednesday was because Liam Peterson walked the entire park in the first inning. The truth is the Aggies offense has lost so much pop that if Ryan Prager doesn't shutdown the Vols lineup, they have no chance in game one.

Tennessee baseball has been on a mission. From the first Friday game of Omaha when Florida State pooped the bed and decided to stab me in the heart, you just knew the Vols were going to win. FSU handed them the game and the clear path. Everything was set up right. Now they waltz into the finals with everybody fully rested. It will be the usual Friday rotation with Chris Stamos/AJ Causey, which has proved very successful this year. The offense is the bread and butter of this team though with their nation-leading 178 taters and 642 runs. Their key three in Christian Moore, Blake Burke, and Billy Amick have hit a new stratosphere this season, and should have first round cases. And at this point, we've reached a realistic conclusion that Moore should be taken ahead of Travis Bazzana, just saying. 

The theory I've had where the Vols have struggled against quality LHP starters is something I still think is true. It's not 100%, but has happened. While Jamie Arnold was beat up, a lot of it was terrible defense and self-inflicted wounds. Prager is capable of shutting it down, and then you have a deadly 1-2 bullpen combo with Chris Cortez and Evan Aschenbeck. I don't think Tennessee gets shut down, but I don't believe they explode either. This is the Aggies best chance to win with everybody available. I do think the Vols end up winning the series, but an under is my favorite look.

Pick: Under 12.5 -152 (ALT line on DraftKings)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Venezia
John Venezia has covered the NFL, MLB, and College Baseball for betting and fantasy for more than six years. His recent stints include NBC Sports, Bet Karma, Bettor Sports Network, and Fantasy Life.
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