It definitely doesn't pull in massive television ratings like the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. There aren't any office pools to stimulate interest, either.

And the coaches aren't exactly household names such as Coach K, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim.

Yet the College World Series that begins Saturday on ESPN, when Cal State Fullerton meets Oregon State at 2 p.m., features just as much excitement as the hoops tournament.

There's usually a buzzer beater (in this case, a walk-off homer) or two along the way, too.

While there's not non-stop games for 12 hours in the first two days as happens in basketball, the baseball action builds its own fever by going eight straight days. Then there's a one-day break on June 25 until the best-of-three final to crown a champion begins the next day.

You think Gonzaga would have taken a best-of-three basketball series against North Carolina?

This year's CWS has schools that usually show up in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Florida, Louisville and Florida State all participated in this year's March Madness. LSU and TCU are baseball powers, while Texas A&M was in the CWS six years ago.

Those who don't know anything about Cal State Fullerton might think the Titans are this year's Cinderella. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Fullerton is making its 18th CWS appearance and has walked away with four national titles, the last in 2004. Oregon State might be Pac-12 bottom feeders in basketball and football, but with bats and balls the Beavers are league heavyweights (national champs 2006 and 2007).

Fantasy baseball geeks can get a quick scouting report on future players to watch, too.

There are four first-round picks in the recent amateur draft in this year's CWS, including pitcher Alex Lange of LSU, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs.

Those who have been to the CWS, annually held in Omaha, Neb., say it should be a bucket-list destination for all sports fans. Watch it and you might agree.

Golf: U.S. Open (Fox, 10 a.m. Saturday, Sunday): The last six majors all have gone to first-time winners. If that holds true, Rickie Fowler is the logical choice to join that club. 

MLB: Cardinals at Orioles (FSM, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Sunday): These are the kind of interleague games that are really cool. You almost wish Bob Gibson would have faced the Robinsons and Boog Powell back in late 1960s and early ’70s. 

NBA: Draft (ESPN, 6 p.m. Thursday): Hopefully the focus stays on a star-studded group of talented young point guards and not a big-mouthed father who says outrageous things.

Contact Jim Benson at jbenson@pantagraph.com.

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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