College Top 25 Chat: May 19

Q:  Bill from San Francisco asks:

What
are the chances that the cal golden bears get a 1 seed and if they do
where are the most likely host sites they will be sent to

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the final college Monday of the regular season (for most conferences, anyway).

Aaron Fitt:
I’ve got to figure the committee would love to put regionals at
Michigan and St. John’s—it’s a golden opportunity to make inroads in
the largely untapped Big Ten and Big East markets. But the Wolverines
and Red Storm don’t have enough quality wins to earn No. 1 seeds, so
teams like San Diego, California and Coastal (which would love to host
but does not seem likely to) are in the mix to be No. 1 seeds in Ann
Arbor and Queens. The Toreros have the strongest case to be a No. 1
seed, particularly if they can win the WCC championship series. Cal
actually has a higher RPI, and I think the Golden Bears will be a No. 1
seed if they can win two out of three against UCLA this weekend, to
finish third or better in the Pac-10. The other possibility is that Cal
could be sent to another West Coast site like Long Beach or Irvine,
which would host as a No. 2 seed. But if the Dirtbags win that series
against Fullerton this weekend, they will be a No. 1 seed and a host.

 Q:  Mike from Omaha asks:

Aaron
— How much did sweeps by Missouri and Texas hurt the chances for
Nebraska and/or Texas A&M to be a top eight national seed? And can
either, or both, get back in the picture if they make it to the Big 12
championship game?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think A&M is hurt more because the Aggies have now lost six in a
row, and that kind of backwards momentum won’t look good to the
committee. I still think one of those teams is likely to earn a
national seed—probably whichever one fares better at the conference
tournament. I would be very surprised if both end up as national seeds,
unless they both read the Big 12 title game.

 Q:  Dan from Alexandria, VA asks:

Both
Nebraska and Texas A&M fall flat on their face this weekend. Did
the 0-3 weekend cost both teams a top 8 seed, and if so, who benefits
and grabs those seeds?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
To follow up on the last question, I think Oklahoma State, Fullerton
and LSU are in the best position to capitalize and move into national
seeds, if they can finish strong over the next week. The Cowboys seem
to be in great shape, having beaten A&M, Nebraska, Missouri and
Texas head to head.

 Q:  Frank from Mississippi asks:

How
many SEC teams will make the NCAA tournament? Do any of the teams in
the SEC tournament have to win a game or two to make the NCAA? What SEC
teams do you think will host regionals?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
At this instant, my gut says nine SEC teams get in. Arkansas is very
much on the bubble, obviously, but their RPI is in striking range
(29th) and they have quality series wins against South Carolina, Ole
Miss and Florida. I do think the Rebels still have some work to do in
the SEC tournament, because their resume is pretty flimsy — they’ve
lost four of their last five series. As for hosts, Georgia and LSU are
locks, and I think Florida and Kentucky are probably competing for the
league’s third hosting slot. Give Florida the upper hand at the moment,
but the SEC tournament will likely decide it. Vanderbilt might still be
able to steal a host site with a run to the SEC championship game.

 Q:  Jason from Santa Barbara asks:

With
UCSB sweeping UCR (who was in 2nd in Big West) and UCD dropping the
series to Irvine, how are the Gauchos chances to make a regional if
they can take 2 of 3 from Irvine this weekend? If UCSB finishes ahead
of Davis in league and overall record, are they going? Davis did take 2
of 3 from UCSB, but it was in the 13th inning on Sunday with a blooper.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
As I wrote in Three Strikes today over on the College Blog, I think the
Gauchos will get in if they take two of three from Irvine, and they
might still have a chance if they can win just one game from the
Anteaters. Davis’ chances are sagging, but if the Aggies can sweep
Northridge next weekend (which is very much within the realm of
possibility) and Irvine wins that series at home against UCSB, Davis
and Santa Barbara will have identical 14-10 records in conference play.
Davis has the more impressive resume, thanks to series wins against
Long Beach State, UCSB and Santa Clara, so you’d have to give UCD the
upper hand in that scenario. Of course, if neither team finishes
strong, the Big West will be a three-bid league.

 Q:  Carlos from San Diego, CA asks:

Hi
Aaron- Will the USD-Pepperdine series make much of a difference for
either team’s tournament seedings? Do you still see USD going to
Michigan for the regionals?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think Pepperdine could play its way to a No. 1 seed if it can win the
WCC championship series. San Diego’s RPI is very low for a potential
No. 1 seed (38th), so the Toreros probably need to win this weekend to
secure a No. 1. Otherwise all those games early against Harvard and
Hilo will come back to haunt USD.

 Q:  Oscar from San Jose asks:

who makes the regionals from the PAC

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Today, I’m going with Arizona State, Stanford, Cal, Arizona, UCLA and
Oregon State. Ask me tomorrow and I might have changed my mind. The
Beavers absolutely must sweep Pacific next weekend, and really they
could very much use a win today against Long Beach.

 Q:  Jimmy from Virginia asks:

Is
the only chance for the CAA to be a two-bid conference to have UNCW
lose in the tournament? The league is 10 in the RPI and UNCW seems to
be a shoe-in. W&M has fallen off quite a bit. Let’s say JMU,
currently 34-17, would go 4-2 in the tournament and lose to UNCW in the
championship. At 38-19 would the Dukes have an at-large shot?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
JMU’s problem is it doesn’t have one win against a solid regional
contender: the Dukes were swept by UNC Wilmington, and their best
series win all year might be their opening series against Binghamton,
which won the America East regular-season title. But a mid-60s RPI just
seems unlikely to be strong enough to get James Madison into a regional
as an at-large team, regardless of what happens this weekend. I think
the only way the CAA gets two bids is if UNCW loses this weekend. That
said, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Old Dominion catches
lightning in a bottle and runs through the tournament, because its
pitching is still very talented. And JMU and W&M are both capable
of bashing their way through the tournament. Don’t get me wrong,
Wilmington is still the big favorite — but don’t be stunned if
somebody topples the Seahawks and the CAA gets two bids after all.

 Q:  Jamie R from tampa, fl asks:

How
would you rate the three Carolina soph’s (Fedroff, Ackley, and Seager)
as pro prospects? Are they top five rounders? And will UNC lose a game
next year?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think they are all top-five-rounders. Ackley and Seager profile a
little better for me, but Fedroff has really proven himself this year.
His bat, instincts and speed could carry him pretty far in pro ball. I
don’t think North Carolina will pull a Trinity and go undefeated next
year, but off the top of my head, I can’t imagine anyone else will beat
out the Tar Heels for 2009 preseason No. 1.

 Q:  Eric from huntington beach asks:

Great
job on the monday discussions! Very insightful. Well after all the talk
it comes down to LBSU vs. Fullerton. Should be a great series. My only
concern for LB is Jones’s back and Corder’s Finger. They were both out
for the Cal Poly series. Lorin pitched great in Thompson’s absence on
Sat. If Long Beach can win 2 out of 3 or sweep they clinch the title.
Would you see them hosting a regional at that point?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think Long Beach has a decent shot to host even if it wins just one
game this weekend, because that 10-9 record against the top 25 is
impressive, and a second-place finish in the Big West wouldn’t be bad,
either. Depending on how those injuries progress, you’d have to think
LBSU has a solid chance to win that series against Fullerton at home
next weekend. After all, the Dirtbags are 20-6 at Blair Field this
year, compared to 14-12 on the road. And Fullerton is just 13-10 on the
road. Of course, anything can happen in a rivalry series like that —
should be a great weekend out there.

 Q:  Brett from Kansas City asks:

After a dominating sweep of then-no.5 Nebraska, what does Mizzou have to do in the Big 12 Tournament to host a regional?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think two wins could do it, depending on what happens with some other
would-be hosts. With three wins, it probably won’t matter how any other
host contenders do.

 Q:  Kevin L from Columbia, SC asks:

Aaron
do you think SC has any chance of hosting a regional? Of course I
understand that the only way they probably get a chance at hosting is
if the win the SEC Tournament, but even then do you think they have a
chance to host?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: If South Carolina wins the SEC tournament, I think it will host. Anything short of that probably won’t be enough.

 Q:  Martin from Lubbock, Texas asks:

Aaron,
With the final week of the regular season upon us most conference are
entering tournament play. I know the Pac-10 and Big West don’t host a
conference tournament to select their AQ, it’s based on regular season
standings. Do you find this as an advantage or disadvantage?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
In general, I think it’s an advantage for the leagues in the compacted
schedule, because they get an extra week to get to 56 games, so they
can space out their schedules a little more. It’s also an advantage for
the teams at the top (like Arizona State), who can secure high national
seeds by winning the regular-season crown without having to risk
blemishing their resumes by losing in a conference tournament. But it’s
a disadvantage for bubble teams like Oregon State, UC Davis and UC
Santa Barbara who could use a conference tournament to put themselves
over the top. And it’s obviously a disadvantage for teams like UC
Riverside that won’t be eligible for an at-large bid due to sub-.500
overall records. The Highlanders don’t have the chance to run through
the conference tournament and get an automatic bid, like Texas Southern
is trying to do in the SWAC tournament. (Incidentally, we’ve got the
Prairie View-Texas Southern game on the flat screen here at BA World
Headquarters, and the Panthers are leading 8-5 in the fifth. Looks like
Texas Southern’s impossible dream could be in jeopardy…)

 Q:  KEVIN L from COLUMBIA, SC asks:

What
will Clemson have to do in the ACC tournament to make it to the NCAA
tournament? Or do you think they’re done, because it seems like every
year the NCAA gives a pardon to teams that are consistently in the
tournament, what do you think?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The committee needs to get to 64 teams somehow, which means a couple of
teams with dubious resumes like Clemson’s are almost certain to get in.
I think the Tigers will get a bid if they can win two games this
weekend. Clemson has finished somewhat strong, winning its last five
games, and at least the Tigers have a quality series win against NC
State on its resume. That’s more than Virginia can say, although the
Cavs have the better ACC record.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:

Is
there any possible scenario in which my Devils don’t receive one of the
eight national seeds? Sounds like a stupid question, but I have seen
the committee screw us over before. Will any other pac10 teams host?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I suppose if ASU gets swept next weekend and Stanford somehow wins the
Pac-10, the Sun Devils might slip out of a national seed, but even then
they’ve got a shot. ASU is just about a lock to get a national seed. I
think Stanford will host, but I can’t see a third Pac-10 team hosting.

 Q:  Stephen from New Jersey asks:

Do
you think the little guys will get some love this year or will the big
conferences like the SEC get most of the bids? How much will RPI play
into the selection? What northern schools do you think make the NCAA
tournament?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
It’s not a great year for some of those middle-of-the-road conferences
like the Big East, Big Ten and Sun Belt to get multiple bids. Last
year, all three of those leagues got three bids. This year, the Big
East and Big Ten will be one-bid leagues unless someone can upset
Michigan and St. John’s in the conference tournaments, because no other
teams have stepped up to fill the void. Notre Dame looked like it had a
shot before being swept by South Florida this weekend. Cincinnati has a
shot after finishing second in the Big East, but early series against
Chicago State and Niagara really hurt the Bearcats’ RPI. In the Sun
Belt, New Orleans looked like a solid regional team before being swept
by Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend. I still think UNO will get an
at-large bid if it fails to win the Sun Belt tourney, but the
Privateers are no longer a lock. As for the North, I’ll go with Stony
Brook and Monmouth to win their conference tournaments and join
Bucknell and Columbia in the field of 64.

 Q:  Brandon from Alabama asks:

With a good showing in the SEC tournament could Bama end up a 2 seed? Thanks.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I really think the Crimson Tide put itself in the discussion to be a
No. 2 seed by going to Athens and winning two out of three against
Georgia. Bama’s RPI (47) is still a little low for a two seed, but the
Tide has really taken care of business down the stretch, winning five
straight conference series. And series wins against Georgia, Florida,
Arkansas, Vandy and Ole Miss look pretty darn good. With a good week in
Hoover, Alabama could definitely be a No. 2.

 Q:  Richard from Charlotte, NC asks:

Why are the Gamecocks still off the radar?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I wouldn’t say they’re completely off the radar, but they have been
swept two of the last four weekends and three times overall. Good teams
should not be swept that often.

 Q:  from asks:

Is
there any possible way that you see missouri hosts as a two seed to get
a midwest team a host bid for a team like san diego where they can’t
host a regoinal?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think that’s a very real possibility. If Coastal Carolina and San
Diego both take care of business this weekend, and Cal beats UCLA, I
could see those three teams being No. 1 seeds at Queens, Ann Arbor and
Columbia, Mo.

 Q:  horn on the range from Riverton, WY asks:

Is
the University Of Texas a legitimate threat or just a team that nobody
wants to play in a regional, basically a case of being more scary than
good?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
More scary than good is an interesting way to phrase it, and I think
that’s pretty appropriate. The Longhorns got strong starting pitching
this weekend from Ruffin, Wood and Kasparek, but I’m still not
convinced their arms will be good enough when it matters — that staff
has been pretty inconsistent this year.

 Q:  james m from Texas asks:

Is
there anyone in the big 12 deserving of a national seed? Maybe Okla St?
The winner of the Big 12 Tournament? Can the conference still get more
than one national seed?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
In my mind, the Big 12 is still in good shape to get two national
seeds, with Oklahoma State being the favorite for one of them, and
either Nebraska or Texas A&M poised for the other, depending on who
does better this weekend.

 Q:  Ken from Rancho Cordova, CA asks:

Does USC have a shot now at the postseason? How about Oregon State?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the Trojans need to get a sweep at Washington State next
weekend to get in. If they can pull that off, they’ll be 13-11 in the
Pac-10, which should be good enough, even with their mediocre overall
record and even though they’ve been swept four times this year.

 Q:  Joe from Austin asks:

Rice
seems to be on a roll, but does not appear to have a clear pitching
standout from previous seasons? Who do you see playing a key role in
the postseason and do you see them making a legitimate run to the Natl.
Championship?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Maybe the Owls don’t have a big-name ace like Joe Savery this year
(although Ryan Berry’s not far off), but they might have more pitching
depth than they had in either of their last two Omaha teams. Having
Savery didn’t do much for the Owls in Omaha the last two years, but
maybe having a staff filled with solid college pitchers like Langwell,
Kelley and Ojala will carry them even farther. The bullpen is really
special, though — St.Clair, Price, Evers, Bell, Runnels and Gayhart is
a great group.

 Q:  Chris from Morristown, Tn asks:

How many players on the #1 ranked Tar Heels are likely draft picks next month?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Federowicz, Fedroff, Flack, Seth Williams, Wooten, Warren and Shelton
will all get drafted, but my gut says Fedroff and Warren will be back
in Chapel Hill for another year. Federowicz is the only guy with a shot
to go in the first few rounds this year.

 Q:  Tripp from Arizona asks:

Will
Arizona make the NCAA tournament or have they backed their way out of
it? Are they the most disappointing team this year? How many Pac 10
teams make the tournament? Who are the top relief pitchers in college
baseball?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Arizona has four games left: one against Stanford today, and three
against Arizona State later this week. I think if the Wildcats go 2-2
in those four games, they’ll get in.

 Q:  Josh from Columbia, Mo. asks:

Is
Mizzou back? They had a great all-around performance this weekend and
the team seems to be peaking at the right time. Are they the most
dangerous two-seed in the NCAA tournament?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I think that’s a good way to put it. I expect the Tigers will wind up as a No. 2 seed, and they will be very, very dangerous.

 Q:  Randy from Hattiesburg asks:

Will
USM host a regional this year? Do they have a shot at Omaha? How many
Conference USA teams will go to the tournament? I really enjoy your
chats.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I thought USM had the inside track at hosting until losing two of three
to UAB this weekend. That really hurt the Golden Eagles. Now they’ll
need to make a deep run in the CUSA tournament in order to host. I feel
confident that CUSA will send five teams to regionals: Rice, USM,
Tulane, ECU and Houston.

 Q:  DM from Miami asks:

Does Coastal have what it takes to advance to a super regional and possibly Omaha?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Coastal is experienced, talented and balanced, but a lot will depend on
whether ace Bobby Gagg can return from the strained oblique muscle that
has sidelined him the last couple of weeks. He’s absolutely a key guy
for them.

 Q:  Hodge from OC asks:

Do
you think that picking UCLA preseason #1 was a responsible choice or
the most off base, over lobbied for, and biggest blunder pick in BA
history?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
“Responsible?” Let’s try to keep some perspective here—we’re writing
about college baseball, not saving the world. Obviously in hindsight,
the Bruins did not reward our faith in them (at least not yet), but it
would have been irresponsible for us to ignore the overwhelming
groundswell of support for UCLA that we got from coaches and scouts on
the West Coast while we were researching our preseason top 25. Did we
take a risk backing a program that was still largely unproven? Sure we
did. Did it backfire? It seems like it did. But all we can do is use
the information we’ve got to make an educated guess; after that it’s up
to the teams to decide things on the field. And if UCLA sneaks into the
NCAA tournament and rides a miracle run all the way to the national
championship, I expect Hodge from the OC to come back to this chat and
laud us for our extraordinary vision. Hey, at least we’re accountable
for our picks.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all for today, everyone.
Be sure to check back Wednesday for conference tournament capsules for
every league that plays conference tournies this week. Enjoy the
postseason!

College | #2008 #Chat

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