No. 1 Wake Forest Leads Five North Carolina Schools In NCAA Baseball Top 25

A North Carolina school has not won the College World Series since 1955. But that may change this year based on the bevy of NC colleges ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 NCAA Division 1 poll.

According to the AP, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons are ranked No. 1 in the nation. Four other North Carolina schools earned spots in the Top 25.

East Carolina University (No. 11), Duke (No. 12), North Carolina State (No. 13), and North Carolina (No. 15) give the Tar Heel State five of the top 15 ranked NCAA baseball teams in the nation, as of the first week of play. All of the ranked NC schools, with the exception of East Carolina, compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Neighboring South Carolina has three teams in the AP Top 25 baseball poll as of February 21: Clemson, South Carolina, and Coastal Carolina. All of these schools from the Carolina coast make it interesting for NC college baseball betting this season.

Pitching Lifts Wake Forest to No. 1

The Demon Deacons were the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP college baseball pre-season poll. Last season, Wake Forest took overall top-seed status entering the College World Series tournament. The team stood ranked No. 1 at one point in the season by Baseball America, the Coaches Poll, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

The 2023 Deacons advanced to the semifinals but were defeated by LSU, the eventual national champs. Considering that Wake Forest went 54-12, and set school records for overall wins and victories in the ACC, it surprised supporters that they failed to get to the World Series final.

This season, oddsmakers list Wake Forest as favorites to win the national title. In 2023, Wake Forest had the best pitching staff in NCAA Division-1, recording 779 strikeouts, the third most in D1 history. The Deacs averaged 12.1 K’s per nine innings and tossed 10 shutouts.

Lefty Josh Hartle, a junior, returns to lead the Deacs staff as its ace. In his first start of the 2024 season, Hartle allowed only three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings to defeat Fordham at David F. Couch Ballpark in Winston-Salem.

The 2024 College World Series odds show Wake Forest as +700 to win the title, making them the favorite. Defending champ LSU is +800. East Carolina, Duke, NC State, and North Carolina are all listed at +5000.

Other NC Schools in NCAA Baseball Top 25 Poll

East Carolina

Projected first-round MLB pick Trey Yesavage is the Friday starter and ace for the Pirates, who should have a versatile staff. Head coach Cliff Godwin can choose from several options, including lefthander Zach Root as his No. 2, or mix and match many strong arms from his bullpen.


Last season the Blue Devils finished the season ranked No. 10. They return several key hurlers, including southpaw Jonathan Santucci, who is coming off successful elbow surgery, and relief ace Fran Oschell III, who could also be deployed as a starter.

The Duke offense has many holes to fill, having lost four position players to the 2023 MLB Draft. Outfielder Devin Obee was named an All-Star this pas winter in the Cape Cod League, and it would be a welcome sight if he carried that momentum into his junior season.

North Carolina State

The transfer portal taketh away and the transfer portal “delivereth.” NC State lost three starting position players from last year’s team. However, they added Brandon Butterworth and Garrett Pennington, the latter a blue chip prospect from Wichita State. A first baseman/outfielder, Pennington has a 300/400/600 career slash line in college, and he enters his sixth year of eligibility poised to be the big man in the middle of the NC State lineup.

North Carolina

The Tar Heels were eliminated in the CWS regionals last spring. Coach Scott Forbes enters his fourth season with the roster to compete for an ACC title, but the competition will be fierce. North Carolina has fewer quality pitchers at the top of their rotation, but the lineup is deep.

North Carolina Schools in the College World Series Finals

Four North Carolina-based teams from two schools have made an appearance in the College World Series finals:

  • Wake Forest … 1949 National Runner-up
  • Wake Forest … 1955 National Champion
  • North Carolina … 2006 National Runner-up
  • North Carolina … 2007 National Runner-up

The launch of online sports betting in North Carolina comes on March 11. 2024 marks the first year bettors can place legal online bets on in-state college baseball teams to win the College World Series.


Image Credit: Matt Kelley / AP Images

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.