Baseball America

College Top 25 Chat: May 5

 Q:  tim from new orleans asks:
How many teams will conference usa get in to the post season? How do you see cusa shaping out?

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, and happy Cinco de Mayo. Just a few more College
Mondays before selection day, and I suspect NCAA tournament talk will
dominate this chat. Let’s get to it.

Aaron Fitt:
Conference USA looks like a safe bet to get five bids this year. Rice
has once again emerged as the league’s superpower, as usual, but the
next four teams have all been very solid. Tulane, East Carolina,
Southern Miss and Houston keep beating each other up, which hurts them
when it comes to getting into the top 25, but getting those quality
wins against each other helps them when it comes to jockeying for
position in the NCAA tournament. Southern Miss has the easiest road
down the stretch and looks like the favorite to finish second in the
league, though ECU at least gets Tulane at home this weekend, then has
a manageable trip to Memphis to close out the regular season. I think
those two teams are probably competing to host a regional right now.

 Q:  Jamie R from tampa asks:
I simply cannot figure how FSU doesn’t qualify in your mind as a top 8
seed. We’re talking about a team with the #2 RPI, playing in an
excellent conference. They have been so consistent this season, even in
defeat. I think the ACC deserves three national seeds this year.

Aaron Fitt:
And the ACC might very well get three national seeds, but I’m not
positive it really deserves that many. The bottom half of that league
is much, much weaker than the bottom half of the SEC, Big 12 or Pac-10,
so those teams at the top have all padded their records against the
likes of Virginia Tech, Boston College, Maryland and Wake Forest. But
winning that series at Clemson this weekend puts Florida State in a
very good spot. If the Seminoles finish strong against NC State, I
think they probably will end up as a national seed, but I would have
felt better about it if they had won just one of their two biggest
series of the year (against UNC and Miami).

 Q:  Mike from Eugene , Or asks:
Does SDSU still have a shot to get in the tournament.

Aaron Fitt:
I’d say the Aztecs’ at-large hopes have taken a big hit over the last
few weeks, and sweeping Air Force probably hurt them more than it
helped them (SDSU’s RPI has plummeted to 70). A series win against Cal
State Fullerton the close the regular season would give the Aztecs at
least a shot at an at-large berth, but my gut says they probably need
to win the MWC tournament to get in.

 Q:  John from Orange County, CA asks:
— Thoughts about the regional race on the West Coast after this
weekend. Someone was noting that there may be a race right now on the
West Coast for an at large bid between four teams: UC Davis, Santa
Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. All four teams all play very
difficult schedules (strength of the Pac-10 has helped), and are
hovering around third place in their conferences. One could argue that
one of these teams (or maybe more) should receive an at large regional
bid if they don’t get an automatic. Do you agree? Who deserves it most?

Aaron Fitt:
Right now, I think Davis is in very good shape to earn the fourth
at-large spot out of the Big West, and the only way that changes is if
the Aggies fall apart down the stretch while the Gauchos get hot. Santa
Clara has a strong enough RPI that it could make a push for a regional
spot if it can win its series against Pepperdine in two weeks, but I’d
say San Francisco is probably out of the mix at this point because of
that 85 RPI and its inability to win series against the top teams in
the league (lost to Santa Clara and Pepperdine, and I don’t see the
Dons beating USD this weekend).

 Q:  Jake from Houston, TX asks:
Aggies had a good week going 3-1 against TCU and Dallas Baptist, but my
question is actually about DBU. I was very impressed with them this
week, and they have beaten some very good teams this year including
A&M & Rice. They also have a very nice RPI. What do you think
about DBU, what are their chances for a regional bid, and could they
get higher than a 4 seed at a regional?

Aaron Fitt:
I had DBU in as a 3 seed last week, and I still think that’s doable
with a strong finish against the likes of Texas Tech and San Francisco.
That season-ending three-game trip to USF is going to be paramount.

 Q:  Drew from Texas asks:
Should Jack Leggett be nervous?

Aaron Fitt:
It’s shocking to me that I’ve heard this question a number of times
this season, but I suppose it’s a testament to the high expectations
that Leggett’s own success has created for that program. But to answer
your question, no, he’s got nothing to worry about.

 Q:  john from estrada asks:
As the Univeristy of NEw Orleans put themselves on the college baseball map?

Aaron Fitt:
Absolutely. The Privateers were a great story last year when they they
recovered from a modest 16-14 conference season to win the Sun Belt
tournament, then beat Wichita State in regionals and pushed Arizona to
the brink. Once again, that UNO offense is fearsome, with six players
that have nine or more home runs. But the Privateers also have a
legitimate ace in Bryan Cryer. Those guys are dangerous.

 Q:  Charles from Kissimmee asks:
Who’s the frontrunner for SEC ROY? ACC?

Aaron Fitt:
In the SEC, Kentrail Davis by a nose over Hunter Morris and Josh Adams.
In the ACC, I’ll go with Derek Dietrich over Matt Harvey.

 Q:  Tom from Seward, NE asks:
How do see this weekends Nebraska-Texas A&M series playing out? Does Nebraska have a legitimate shot at a national seed?

Aaron Fitt:
Really, they could both wind up with national seeds, but the winner of
that series this weekend looks like a lock for one. I’ll give the
Cornhuskers the edge since they are at home and have much more
experience on the mound. Those first two games will feature seniors for
Nebraska against freshmen for A&M.

 Q:  Paul from Brentwood asks:
Riverside has to finish 11-2 to end up at a even record, yet with their
remaining schedule it may be possible to win the Big West (Davis, UCSB
and Cal Poly), do you think they have a chance of winning the Big

Aaron Fitt:
It’s a longshot, but it’s probably still more likely than UCR’s chances
to finish with an above .500 record, which they would need to qualify
for an at-large bid. Fullerton has a wider margin for error because it
only has two conference series left, and one of them is very winnable
at home against Cal Poly. So the Titans could conceivably lose their
final series at Long Beach (and I’m not saying that’s going to happen)
and still hold off UCR to win the Big West. Give Doug Smith credit for
rallying Riverside after a tough start, but I just don’t think the
Highlanders will have enough gas in the tank to overtake Fullerton and
win the league.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta asks:
am not surprised to see GT still not in your poll, but exasperated. May
I ask why a team that’s top 10 RPI, has 8 of its 13 losses against top
5 (or top 3) teams, and just won a weekend series against a team you
show as top 25 is not there? We also have a better overall record than
a number of your top 25.

Aaron Fitt:
The flipside of having all those losses against top five teams is that
Georgia Tech hasn’t beaten any of the good teams in its league: 11 of
its 12 conference wins are against Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake
Forest, Maryland and Duke. And the Yellow Jackets are just two weeks
removed from losing a bad series at Maryland. Beating Coastal moved
Tech back into the top 25 discussion, but frankly there was a lot of
ground to make up. That overall record is padded further by six early
nonconference wins against weaklings Youngstown State and Rutgers.
Georgia Tech being ninth in the RPI is the biggest illustration of why
the RPI is flawed. It does not place enough emphasis on quality
wins—and this weekend was the first series Tech has won all year
against a team that is anywhere close to contending for a regional
berth. It’s a good start, but Tech will need to finish strong against
Clemson, Georgia and Virginia if it wants to earn a No. 1 seed in a

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Any chance of Duke earning an at-large bid? 28-14 vs. D1 competition,
59 RPI, series wins over Columbia (hey, they’re playing for the Ivy
title), Maryland and Virginia, split with Clemson, single wins over
UNC, Georgia Tech, NC State and UNC Greensboro. With the schedule
remaining they have a good shot to get to 35 overall and 12 ACC wins.
What do you think? Thanks

Aaron Fitt:
Duke continues to make nice progress, but regionals are a longshot at
best. The Blue Devils first must make the ACC tournament to have any
chance, and that will mean winning its final two series — both of
which are on the road, although Wake and Virginia Tech are both
beatable. But I still give Wake Forest an edge in that series because
it’s at home. Even if Duke makes it to Jacksonville, its RPI probably
won’t be good enough for an at-large bid.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach asks:
can’t remember a more wide open year for the championship than this
one. Do you think the condensed schedule has something to do with it?
Will making most teams have to go 4 to 5 starters deep during the week
make the reginals more competitive than ever? #4 and #3 seeds having a
chance to advance like never before. The pitching staffs being worked
hard every week in my opinion will make it great in the regionals.

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t know about making it great, but it certainly does figure to
increase the number of teams who just bash their way through regionals.
That could turn a team like New Orleans into a June darling.

 Q:  Ryan from Austin, TX asks:
hear Brett Jacobson has really settled into the closers role at vandy,
and was in the 95-98 range this weekend. Does his emergence as a true
stopper, make Vandy a big favorite coming down the stretch?

Aaron Fitt:
It’s a huge development for the Commodores—his big-time right arm was
a major reason Vandy was ranked so highly in the preseason, and they
needed to find some way to maximize his value. Derek Johnson is one of
the best pitching coaches in college baseball, and he deserves a lot of
credit for getting Jacobson back on track. That pitching staff is
starting to settle, and combined with that experienced lineup, Vandy is
starting to look very dangerous indeed.

 Q:  Alex from Wichita asks:
mid-week losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma St. Ruin the Shocks chances of
hosting a regional? Weekend Series against Evansville and Bradley wont
help RPI matters, Currently 27 (Boyds World) only single games against
ASU and ORU could help. Shocks bound to travel come regionals?

Aaron Fitt:
Yeah, at this point I think that’s inevitable. The Shockers are 1-4 in
midweek games against the Big 12 over the last three weeks. That, with
their RPI woes, all but kills their hosting chances.

 Q:  Steve from Northern California asks:
seems like plenty of the Norhern California schools are playing some
good baseball. Stanford, Cal., Santa Clara. Do you see St. Mary’s
making a move in the next few years. I know they have young coaching,
plans to build a stadium but they are in a tough league. They have been
getting a little better every year. What do you think?

Aaron Fitt:
They’ve also got a very intriguing recruiting class lined up. St.
Mary’s has the look of a program on the cusp of big things, as John
Manuel predicted last week in the college podcast.

 Q:  Brett from Baton Rouge, LA asks:
Tigers are now a half game up in the SEC West. If the trend continues
up until the SEC tournament, and the Tigers finish either 1 or 2 in the
SEC, what are the chances we will host a regional? I notice that a few
weeks ago LSU was a bubble team for regionals, have they now locked in
to a regional somewhere even if they do not host?

Aaron Fitt: Today’s Three Strikes looks at LSU’s situation in detail — I refer you to the College Blog for that.

 Q:  Dale from Fayetteville, AR asks:
Does Arkansas have what it takes to make the SEC and NCAA Tournament this year?

Aaron Fitt:
Losing that series at home to Alabama was a huge blow to Arkansas’
chances. In my mind, that was a must-win series for Arkansas to even
have a chance, and it did not win it.

 Q:  USD Super Fan from America’s Finest City asks:
Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of college baseball! What are the
odds of USD being the #1 seed outside of California? In state?

Aaron Fitt: I suppose the Toreros could be the No. 1 at someplace like Long Beach, but I still think they wind up somewhere like Michigan.

 Q:  Tobi from Grants Pass, Oregon asks:
I had a question about UC Davis (29-16). After looking at the some of
the naitonal rankings that have come out today, the Aggies don’t seem
to be getting much attention (not even in receiving votes). They just
went 3-1 against a top 25 lineup, including a win over Stanford, and
are among the top in the comeptitive Big West Conference. Since UC
Davis is in its first year as a NCAA DI team, could that be hindering
its chances of getting as many looks?

Aaron Fitt:
What’s really hurting Davis, as far as the rankings go, is that it lost
its last two series before this weekend. I do like that 7-5 mark
against the top 25, though. The Aggies really do look like a regional
team to me.

 Q:  JAY from BAY AREA, CA asks:
UC Davis won the series against the Dirtgags this weekend, and given
the fact that Davis has a better overall record, the same conference
record, and an almost idential RPI rank as LBSU: Wouldn’t it be fair to
say that Davis is currently MORE deserving of a regional bid than LBSU?
Other than having the bigger name in college baseball, I don’t see why
Long Beach would get in over Davis if only 3 Big West teams earn a
regional bid. Based on current standings, would you agree?

Aaron Fitt:
You know how I just said I liked UCD’s 7-5 mark against the top 25?
Well Long Beach is 10-9 against the top 25. There aren’t many teams out
there with 10 wins against top 25 teams. To play that kind of schedule
and survive is really not easy.

 Q:  rob from oceanside, ca asks:
loses friday to pepperdine with matusz, then comes back to win saturday
and sunday. does this show the depth of that USD pitching staff? don’t
want to get ahead of myself since they went 0-2 in the regional last
year, but do they have enough to win a regional and possibly a super

Aaron Fitt: I don’t think there’s a better pitching staff in the nation than USD’s, from top to bottom.

 Q:  Steven from Colorado asks:
the FSN broadcast of the OSU/Arizona game last weekend OSU coach Pat
Casey stated that he said Arizona’s pitchers 1-6 are probably the best
in the country. If that’s the case would you say AZ is underachieving
or is the Pac-10 just that tough intra-conference?

Aaron Fitt:
Make no mistake: Arizona, UCLA and Mississippi have all underachieved
drastically, and it has nothing to do with the strength of the Pac-10.
With as much talent as those teams have, there’s really no good excuse
for any of them to be where they are right now. If Nebraska has made
the most of its limited talent this year, those three teams are the
polar opposite: they have done the least with enormous talent.

 Q:  Carlos from San Diego, CA asks:
Hey Aaron-
Your mock draft for the first 5 picks this June?

Aaron Fitt: I’m no Jim Callis, but I’ll take a crack at it just for fun:

1. Rays — Brian Matusz
2. Pirates — Pedro Alvarez
3. Royals — Aaron Crow
4. Orioles — Tim Beckham
5. Giants — Justin Smoak

 Q:  Ricky Bakken from Seattle, Washington asks:
Will Cal make it to the College World Series?

Aaron Fitt:
Right now, I’d really worry about their starting pitching after Tyson
Ross. But I do think Cal is a team capable of bashing its way through a
regional. My gut says the Bears lose in a super-regional.

 Q:  conrad clark from raleigh nc asks:
NCSU having a strong second half and being in second place in their
division, what are the chances of them hosting a regional since it
looks like Miami, UNC, and Fla. St are locked in to host. Will the ACC
have 4 host sites or will ECU likely get the regional

Aaron Fitt:
With North Carolina a lock to host a regional in Cary, it seems
unlikely the committee will want to put two regionals right in Wake
County. Maybe the Wolpack winds up as a No. 1 seed in a regional at
East Carolina. Of course, if N.C. State goes to Tallahassee and wins a
series the last weekend, it could force the committee’s hand.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all for today, everyone. Have a great week!

College | #2008 #Chat

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