Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody, we got our signals crossed today, sorry for the lack of notice on the late start time. Let’s chat.
Matt (Lafayette): To earn a national seed, how badly does Ole Miss need to beat a top 4 SEC team in Hoover? They lost series at home to #3 LSU, on the road to #4 South Carolina and did not play #1 Florida. I can somewhat understand the committee giving ULL the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t beat any top teams, but they didn’t play any either. Ole Miss played a couple and lost all of those series. They also don’t have anywhere close to a top 8 RPI. What do you think?
Aaron Fitt: I think you hit on an important point: not all SEC schedules are created equal. When you’ve got a monster 14-team conference, that happens. So we shouldn’t default to Ole Miss as a national seed just because it won the SEC West; the Rebels did not play Vanderbilt or Florida, and they’re just 5-7 vs. the RPI top 25. So yes, I think the Rebels really need a couple more quality wins this week in Hoover to pad their national seed case.
Glenn (Baton Rouge): Non-conference strength of schedule… Is this metric not inherently biased against the SEC? I suppose SEC schools could dramatically boost their OOC SOS by scheduling each other in non-conference games. How quickly would this arbitrary metric go out of style if they did that?
Aaron Fitt: So are you saying the only good teams are in the SEC? Because I think there are plenty of good teams in other leagues that SEC teams could schedule, and some of them do. Vanderbilt plays a strong nonconference SOS every year (this year they played series vs. Stanford and Long Beach State). Florida plays ACC teams like Miami, Maryland and Florida State, so Florida has a good nonconference SOS. You can’t always know whether the teams you’re scheduling 3 years ahead of time are going to be good, but it isn’t that hard to get a rough idea. And if SEC teams just scheduled each other in the nonconference, then theoretically it would drag everybody back toward .500, and none of them would have good nonconference SOS.
Brad (Chicago): Are you as confident about UL-Lafayette today as you were a month ago? I caught them on ESPN3 this weekend and they really struggled with a very bad UL-Monroe team. LSU has to be licking their chops at the thought of that probable postseason matchup.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, my faith in the Cajuns has not faltered. One thing about the Cajuns is they have a lot of experience and toughness, and they have shown the ability to grind out wins even when they’re not playing their best. Hell, they’re 49-7 — you’ve got to be tough as well as good to have a record like that, even in a lesser conference.
Blake (New Orleans): Despite the dead weight of several games against +200 RPIs, LSU has a Top 16 RPI. They finished 3rd in the SEC and likely would have finished 2nd had they not lost 2 winnable home games to travel/weather. They have 40 wins. How is that not a clear hosting resume?
Aaron Fitt: I think it is might very well be a hosting resume. The only reasons it’s not a slam dunk are the 4-8 record vs. the top 25 in the RPI and the poor nonconference schedule. I’m still working on crunching all the numbers, but I suspect I’ll have LSU as a host in tomorrow morning’s Stock Report.
Kyle (Portland): With the likes of LHP Ben Wetzler and Jace Fry, along with RHP Andrew Moore, is there a better starting rotation than the Oregon State Beavers?
Aaron Fitt: It gets my vote for the best in the country, followed by Miami and TCU (if Finnegan is 100 percent).
Jack (Tustin): AHHHHH.....the Big West is driving me crazy. It is definitely going to be a nail-bitter finish to the season with this league. With CSF sweeping UCI, the Titans are trying their hardest to advance to the postseason. I'm thinking LBSU and CSF may be battling for the conference's potential third slot in the tourney. Thought?
Aaron Fitt: I’m feeling pretty good about Long Beach’s chances, but that Long Beach-Irvine series is a big one. Both teams could get in, or the loser might find itself squeezed out (three straight series losses to end the year would not be good for the Anteaters). But the selection committee chairman is the Big West commissioner, so I think it’s entirely likely the Big West winds up getting all its bubble teams in, earning four bids. Fullerton and Santa Barbara are both still alive.
Chris (Rock Hill, SC): Full disclosure, Gamecock fan here. I'm happy with the win this weekend, but I'm not sure it's enough for a national seed. We have a good record, good top 25, top 50, top 100..ect. We have a top 8 RPI and we beat two of our 3 primary competitors for a second SEC spot (Miss and Vandy....did not play LSU). However, it's hard for me to think a 6-4 confrence series slate is national seed worthy. If the SEC is that good then it needs to get 3 seeds...and it won't. I think the gamecocks need to be playing Saturday and Sunday in the sec tournament to be a top 8 seed. Am I being too pessimistic?
Aaron Fitt: Good breakdown, Chris. I wouldn’t rule out three national seeds for the SEC, but I think you’re correct that two is more likely. I’d give South Carolina the inside track over Ole Miss right now, but I think whichever team goes deeper in Hoover might wind up getting it. Vandy fell back to fourth in the race this past weekend, the way I see it.
Joseph Bivona (Appling, Ga.): I know Vandy lost 2 out of 3 at home to South Carolina, losing the 1st game after leading in the 9th with 1 strike left to win. Do they still have a shot for a national seed with an rpi of 6 and a strength of schedule of 4 with as of now 40 wins and beating Florida 2 out of 3 at Florida. Thank you.
Aaron Fitt: Vandy still has a great resume, and is still alive for a national seed. But losing that home series to South Carolina — no matter how close it was to going the other way — still puts the Commodores behind the Gamecocks in the pecking order, and puts them behind Ole Miss too, I believe. So Vandy needs those two teams to fall flat in Hoover, while VU makes a deep run.
Ty (Lubbock): Did Texas Tech play their way into hosting a regional with this weekend's sweep of WVU? It seems hard to deny their resume: RPI 11 (best in Big 12), top 4 finish in conference, 40 wins, a good record (in lots of attempts) against Top 25 and Top 50 RPI teams, winners of 16 of last 21 games. Or will it take a win over Texas Wednesday in Big 12 tourney opener?
Aaron Fitt: I don’t know — so many other host candidates that have good credentials. Finishing fourth in the Big 12 and getting swept by Kansas two weeks ago hurt Texas Tech’s cause. But the Red Raiders do compare favorably with the two Lone Star State teams right ahead of them in the RPI when it comes to top 25 (8-8) and top 50 (13-12) records. And Houston finished third in a weaker conference; and Rice went a combined 0-4 against Houston and TTU. So maybe Texas Tech could snag a host over both of those teams — all three have holes in their resumes, and all three have selling points. I think TCU and Oklahoma State will host in that part of the country, which leaves only one or two more hosts in Texas. Maybe that will be decided in the final week here.
Darrell (Mississippi): Can Miss State win enough games in Hoover this weekend to earn a hosting opportunity?
Aaron Fitt: It’s a long shot, I think. Too many teams in the SEC ahead in the pecking order.
Tom (Nebraska): What is the chance that Nebraska will make the regional tournament as a number 2 seed and what regional do you think they may be placed?
Aaron Fitt: The Huskers are a lock for regionals, and look like a solid bet as a No. 2 seed — perhaps in Stillwater.
Joseph (Hog Country): Is Arkansas still a bubble team? They are 5-1 the last two weeks including a series win against a top 25 team. They finished 16-14 in the toughest baseball conference in America with top 25 series wins against South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Texas A&M. Do they need to win a game or two to make a regional?
Aaron Fitt: I think the Hogs are solidly in now.
Jordan (Florida): Who are some names we can expect to be rumored for the Univ of South Florida job?
Aaron Fitt: I mentioned a few in a post on our site this afternoon: Mike Bell (FSU), Cliff Godwin (Ole Miss), Joe Urso (Tampa) and Mark Kingston (Illinois State) are a few I’ve heard that I think are interesting.
brennan (Daytona, FL): Do you think that Miami is back, and do they have a strong enough bullpen to reach Omaha?
Aaron Fitt: Yes I do — I think that’s a legit Omaha-caliber club. And yes, I think the bullpen is pretty strong now with Garcia, Woodrey, Hammond and Salas back there –very reliable group.
jb (SC): Is Clemson in or out? Highly disappointing season for a once proud program who always seemed like a "lock" to host every season.
Aaron Fitt: Right on the bubble… but I’m leaning toward out. Still need to crunch the numbers — will have my answer in tomorrow’s Stock Report. And yes, I agree — extremely disappointing season for a team that I thought had a real chance to get to Omaha entering the season. Lots of talent on that roster, and the resume just doesn’t match the talent.
Dave (Aiken, SC): Now that the regular season is pretty much in the bag, who are your top 5 bullpens (and in what order)? Thanks for your outstanding coverage of college ball.
Aaron Fitt: In no particular order: Virginia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and TCU.
Lupton Stadium (Fort Worth): Is TCU a lock to host regardless of the big 12 tournament? Thoughts on National Seed? Is Tyler Alexander a contender for freshman all-American or freshman POY?
Aaron Fitt: Not a lock to host, but in pretty good shape. A poor showing in OKC could allow other Texas teams to pass the Frogs, though — especially since Houston, Rice and Texas Tech all have better RPIs already. I don’t think TCU will be a national seed at this point. And yes, Alexander is a freshman All-America candidate; he’s put together a very nice second half.
Ryland (Parts Unknown): Afternoon Aaron, What % chances do you put on Washington or Oregon hosting a regional?
Aaron Fitt: Washington: 75 percent. Oregon: 10 percent. Ducks are still just 3-10 against the top 50 — that’s not getting it done.
Jeramey (Atlanta): UNC and NC State, matchup in a play in game to get into pool play, who needs this win more to secure a spot in the NCAAs, or are they both out or in?
Aaron Fitt: Wolfpack needs it more, but both teams are on the bubble. UNC has an administrator on the selection committee; that’s not supposed to matter, but it does. I don’t see the Tar Heels getting snubbed. Right now, UNC has a better resume too, although not by much. North Carolina is 13-18 vs. the top 100 — not so good. But at least UNC is 4-6 vs. the top 25, while the Wolfpack is 0-6.
Dan (Fayetteville): Aaron, break it down-the SEC gets 10 regional teams. Yes or no ?
Aaron Fitt: At minimum. I think 11 is more likely than 9. But 10 is the safest bet.
Tanner (Oregon): If Miami happens to go 4-0 this weekend with a win over Virginia or Florida St. in the ACC title game and other teams ahead of them falter a bit in their conference tournaments could you possibly see the Hurricanes land the #1 overall seed? That'd be an ACC regular season and tourney title, plus they would've ended the season on a 34-3 record over the last 37 games.
Aaron Fitt: I don’t think so, because Miami doesn’t have the number of quality wins on its resume that the other national seeds have. Miami is still just 8-9 vs. the top 50.
Chris (Tulsa, Ok): Aaron, How do you feel about LSU after their bats coming alive last week? Do you believe their pitching (after Nola) can handle the SEC tournament and have a chance at receiving a National seed? Thanks
Aaron Fitt: LSU feels awfully dangerous right now — a team that is peaking at the right time, I think. My early-season questions about the rotation after Nola have abated; I like what I’ve seen on TV from Poche’ and Bouman. The offense has really found its stride, and the overall team athleticism is a real difference-maker.
Chris (Camp Pendleton): Is USD in serious trouble or do they have a shot to make a regional? What a whacky WCC with even the Broncos (Santa Clara) going from 1 win last year to making the league tournament.
Aaron Fitt: USD’s season is over — failing to make the WCC tournament was a decisive blow. Outside the top 60 in the RPI — not going to happen. And yes, Kudos to coach Dan O’Brien and his staff up at Santa Clara. Not many people saw that turnaround happening so fast.
HawkTalk (Nashville): Aaron: The Top25 measures performance over the full season with a heavy weighting on consistently taking weekend series. As a result, the Top25 doesn't always reflect which teams you think are playing the best brand of ball at any given moment (though it clearly represents #YoureBias / #YourBiased against [insert fan's team here]). My question, then: As we head into conference tournament week, what are the 10 teams that you believe are, right now, playing at the highest level?
Aaron Fitt: I like how you put that. Teams in more rugged conferences like the SEC will naturally lose more weekend series, and the rankings do reward teams that win weekend series, so SEC teams sometimes beat each other up and cause each other to fall down in the rankings. But I like LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt more than they are currently ranked — I think those will be dangerous postseason teams, and I imagine I would pick all three of them to win series against a lot of teams currently ranked ahead of them. As for teams currently playing at a high level, here are a few that jump out to me: Oregon State, Miami, Indiana, Oklahoma State, LSU, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.
Nicklaus (Charlotte): does nc state have an outside shot of an at large bid if they lose to unc
Aaron Fitt: I really don’t think so.
Cooper (Florida): Whats the likelihood of UCF advancing to the postseason after the series loss to UCONN ? How far do they need to go in there conference tourney that would probably get them in...Thanks
Aaron Fitt: Still in decent shape with a couple of wins in the tournament, I think.
Bill (Nashville): How many wins do the Vols need in Hoover to give the SEC 11 teams in the field?
Aaron Fitt: Two or three, I think.
Gandy (South): Are the Gamecocks still being punished for losing that series to UGA despite being down 5 starting position players? I find it hard to believe there are 14 teams better than them.
Aaron Fitt: As I said earlier, South Carolina strikes me as a team that is considerably better than its ranking… but the fact is it’s hard to move up when all the teams ahead of you win their weekends. We made a couple of adjustments this week because we wanted to move up LSU and South Carolina, so we made the rare choice to move Rice down a couple spots after it swept a series (but lost another midweek game to Houston). But who else should the Gamecocks jump over? TCU and Oklahoma State are red-hot — heck, all of the teams in the top 15 have great bodies of work.
Aaron Fitt: Ok folks, that’s all for this evening. Thanks for the patience, sorry again for the time mix-up. See you next week.