Aaron Fitt: Hello everybody. I’m going to have to keep this tight today, because I’m heading to the airport this afternoon to catch a flight to Birmingham for the SEC tournament. Just as a heads-up,
I’ll be co-hosting a radio show on the field during batting practice on
Tuesday with Eric Saninocencio — you can listen to it streaming live at secsports.com at noon central on Tuesday. Also, I’ll be tweeting and blogging all week from Hoover. You can follow me on Twitter: @aaronfitt.
- jb (SC): I know its a long shot, but does Clemson have a shot at hosting a regional? I know Coastal and South Carolina are pretty much locks for nat'l seeds but would love to see the
state host 3 regionals. Thanks for your coverage!!!
Aaron Fitt: It seemed like an extreme long shot a week ago after the Tigers lost a series to Wake Forest, but all of a sudden it doesn’t seem like quite as much of a long shot. Compare Clemson’s resume to Florida State’s: they’re back-to-back in the RPI, they tied for the ACC’s Atlantic Division title (and Clemson got the tie-breaker after sweeping FSU this weekend), and Clemson has an 18-11 record vs. the top 50 in the RPI, compared to FSU’s 13-12 mark. Assuming one of those two teams host, you’ve either got three hosts in South Carolina or
three in Florida — what’s the difference? Frankly, I think both those teams might be more deserving of hosting than Miami, which has lost all five of its series against Top 25 teams, but the Hurricanes have a stronger RPI and a better conference record, so they’re pretty safe as a
host. I feel like how FSU and Clemson fare in the ACC tournament will have a lot to do with who hosts.
- Steve (Orange County): I know that you won't commit on job openings or possible openings until the end of the season.
But can you name a few coaches that you think have coached themselves into being the hot names out their? Who do you feel are the hot coaches
in the east, midwest and west? Can't wait for regionals it should be fun!
Aaron Fitt: I’m hearing Virginia assistant Kevin McMullan’s name bandied about as a top candidate to land a good head coaching job this spring, and deservedly so. I have a feeling some big-budget teams could make a run at Dan McDonnell this year, but he won’t be easy to lure away from Louisville, where he’s built a very strong program. Scott Stricklin (Kent State) and Rob Cooper (Wright State) could be factors at a place like Ohio State — both those guys have won consistently in that region and both have excellent reputations. Out West, San Diego assistant Jay Johnson and SDSU assistant Eric Valenzuela should be on short lists, and Fullerton’s Sergio Brown has proven to be an elite recruiter out there, too. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Rick Vanderhook get a shot as a head coach somewhere, in the right situation.
- Doug Moore (Fountain Valley, CA): Hi Aaron,
Your top four in the rankings get national seeds, along with probably Coastal, Louisville, and UCLA. Does the committee skip TCU and Fullerton
and give that last national seed to South Carolina?
Aaron Fitt: Doug, I think you’re on the money with those top seven, assuming Coastal wins its conference tournament and Louisville doesn’t fall on its face. I think TCU is a long shot for a national seed because of its RPI, so for me it comes down to South Carolina, Fullerton and Auburn as the top contenders for that last national seed, with Arkansas and Georgia Tech still in the picture. I think it’s very much up for grabs heading into this week.
- Arkham (Danville, PA): Aaron, Which elite team's success hinges most on one player? In other words, who is the nation's Mr. Indispensable?
Aaron Fitt: Christian Colon.
- Taurean (Orlando): How much has Kevin Chapman helped his draft stock this year? Just won the SEC Pitcher of the Week, too.
Aaron Fitt: A ton. He was a 50th-round pick last year, and he’ll definitely go in the top two rounds this year, and maybe as high as the supplemental first round. Lefthanders with that kind of power stuff do not grow on trees, and his performance has been incredible.
- Heath (Kansas): Does Wichita State have any chance at an at large?
Aaron Fitt: A chance, but probably an outside chance. The RPI just isn’t there, and there is a lack of quality wins (just 3-5 vs. the top 50).
- LMU Lion in the MO (Carthage, MO): Which team folded worse late in the season, New Mexico State or Portland? Will that
leave the WCC with just one team in the postseason? And does Pacific have a chance of being the third team taken from the Big West?
Aaron Fitt: I’m a little more surprised by New Mexico State’s collapse — I thought those guys were finally going to break through and get past Fresno this year, and then they fell apart. I never
thought Portland was better than San Diego, but this eight-game losing streak has really exposed the Pilots. The WCC is definitely a one-bid league, no question. And, no, the Big West does not have a chance — the
Tigers are just 88th in the RPI. That, alone, kills their chances.
- chase (round rock): Aaron, how do you see Rice finishing up this season? Super regional? CWS? Their bats have really livened up but their pitching is still down.
Aaron Fitt: Their pitching is coming around, though. Mike Ojala had a great game this weekend, striking out 12, and Jared Rogers has been solid, too. I think a Wall-Ojala-Rogers rotation is absolutely good enough to make a postseason run, coupled with that team’s offensive capabilities, experience and toughness. I’m not picking
the Owls for Omaha, but they do have a chance to win a regional, and I will not be shocked if they wind up back at Rosenblatt.
- John (Raleigh): I have heard that North Carolina has a chance to make the NCAA tournament even though they did not make the ACC tournament. Is this true? Would seem other teams in the conference would be slighted if this were to happen.
Aaron Fitt: UNC does have a chance, as I wrote in today’s Three Strikes. It would probably be at BC’s expense; those teams
finished with identical records in the ACC, but UNC finished stronger, had a much better RPI and a better record against the top 50 in the RPI — UNC is 9-14 in those games; BC is 8-20 (and was 5-20 before NC State snuck into the back of the top 50 this weekend). That is a huge drain on
BC’s at-large hopes.
- Jim Fletcher (Harlingen, Texas): Aaron:
I've been waiting several weeks for you guys to finally conform with the
other three major polls and place Texas first in your poll. Do you really think that an ACC-postseason-flop-to-be like Virginia will be able to handle the mystique of Texas and Augie Garrido in a championship
series, especially considering Texas' pitching and their ability to hit
so many homers? I'll bet Baseball America will soon predict that Texas
will be the number one overall national seed for postseason play, despite the fact that you guys still have Texas second in your poll. Texas didn't deserve the number one overall national seed last year, but
I think they deserve it this season — they're significantly better in all phases of the game. Plus, with Arizona State and Virginia as the second and third national seeds, Texas would avoid playing one or both of them in the postseason, since the second and third national seeds would be on the other side of the bracket. Any comments? Hook 'em Horns! Jim Fletcher, 1997 UT-Austin alumnus
Aaron Fitt: I do think Texas is the favorite to be the No. 1 overall seed, and I would call Texas the ever-so-slight favorite over Virginia for the national title, with Arizona State and Florida not
far behind. But Virginia just keeps on winning, and we were not going to bump the Cavs out of the No. 1 spot after they won a road series against a ranked Miami team. That is more impressive than sweeping Missouri.
- Spike (Columbia): Could the SoCon be a three-bid league? Is it safe to assume both The Citadel and the College
of Charleston are "locks"? What would Elon need to do in the league tournament to get an at-large bid?
Aaron Fitt: Both those teams are in very good shape, and I think both would get at-large bids if they don’t win the conference tournament. Elon has some work to do but could probably get in with two or three wins, because other bubble dwellers have faded significantly (Texas Tech, Kansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, in particular).
- Joe (Columbia, SC): You really feel the need to
drop South Carolina that far, after that hard fought of a series? One bounce either way and SC is SEC champs. Would Florida have fallen that far if they would have lost?
Aaron Fitt: South Carolina has lost two of its last three weekend series, and four series overall. No other team in the top 10 has more than two series losses all season. We obviously still like the Gamecocks, which is why we left them in the top 10, but you can’t compare them with Florida, which has only lost one series all year. And South Carolina lost that series at home, too. I think No. 10 is a perfectly fair spot for those guys; Louisville, Fullerton, UCLA and TCU are all elite teams also.
- Lionel (Nashville): Aaron,
What an exciting time to be an Auburn Tiger! We appear to have all but guaranteed a spot as a regional host during the NCAA tournament. Could you briefly layout a scenario (if any exist) where Auburn would be a national seed?
Aaron Fitt: Tell me this: what makes South Carolina such a safer bet to be a national seed than Auburn? The way I see it, they have very comparable resumes, and the team that does better in the SEC tournament will have the inside track at the No. 8 national seed. Think about it: South Carolina finished just one game ahead of Auburn in
the SEC. They’re back-to-back in the RPI. Both teams won series at Arkansas. South Carolina won the head-to-head series against Auburn back
in March, but Auburn finished stronger, winning its last five series (including at Arkansas and sweeping a series at Ole Miss), while South Carolina lost two of its last three series (albeit with a great series sweep of Arkansas stuck in between). And South Carolina has played 14 games against teams outside the top 200 in the RPI, compared to just five for Auburn. Those teams are right next to each other, in my estimation.
- Kevin (Brentwood, TN): In Vandy's win over Arkansas on Thursday, sophomore righty Sonny Gray got back on track and hit 99 MPH multiple times. Has he worked his way into the conversation as a top-10 pick in 2011?
Aaron Fitt: He’s been in that conversation since he showed up at Vandy, I think.
- Rodney (Austin): You guys finally get it with Florida State. Never deserved to be ranked as high as you had them.
Aaron Fitt: They kept on winning, and folks, it’s hard to move a team down in the rankings when all it does is win. Even after getting swept this weekend, FSU is still 39-16 with quality series wins against Miami and NC State and a 3-1 record against Clemson and six straight series wins before this weekend. They weren’t doing it pretty, but based on wins and losses against a good schedule, they deserved to be ranked where they were last week. This week, they deserved to drop —
so they did.
- Marc (In Left Field): Any chance Texas and TCU are NOT matched up in the Supers? It would be a crime for two Top 5-6 teams to be matched up so soon ... Ya'll have Texas at #2 and TCU at #6.
Aaron Fitt: It would be very unfair to both Texas and TCU… but I bet that’s what happens. I hope the committee proves me wrong.
Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that’s all I’ve got time for. See
you next week.