College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will answer questions about the new Top 25 and college baseball in general at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  JaNelle from Baja, Mexico asks:

The
next few weeks seems to be very exciting for the Big West race,
especially with six schools at .500 or better in league play and UCSB
and UCD now playing the heavy-weights. There are talks about 4-5 teams
going to postseason….do you agree?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone — sorry to be a few minutes late today. Let’s get
going. I think the Big West will be a four-bid league, and whichever
team weathers the tough closing stretch better between UC Davis and UC
Santa Barbara will get the nod. I don’t see the league getting five
bids, so one of those two is likely to be left out. Right now, I give
Davis the edge, because the Aggies have already won the head-to-head
series against UCSB, and they get Long Beach State and Irvine at home
down the stretch, whereas Santa Barbara must travel to LBSU and UCI,
and also must still play Fullerton.

 Q:  Kevin from Virginia asks:

The
CAA sits 10th in the conference RPI with three teams below 70 right
now. UNCW looks to be in good shape but do James Madison or William
& Mary still have any hope of an at-large? The Tribe boast one of
the top offenses in the nation while the Dukes have been consistently
near the top in the CAA all year in hitting, pitching, and fielding.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
JMU and W&M both have pretty solid resumes, but their RPIs are
probably not high enough to merit an at-large bid. Between the two of
those teams, William & Mary’s midweek win against Virginia last
week is the only win for either team against a likely regional team.
One of those teams will have to win the CAA tournament to get in, which
would make the CAA a two-bid league, because Wilmington is safe for an
at-large.

 Q:  Billy from San Diego, CA asks:

16
in a row for USD?! What is the longest streak in NCAA history, and your
thoughts on this weekend’s series with Pepperdine. Has the hype been
lost at all with Hunter being hurt for the Waves? That would be a great
matchup with Matusz! Thanks for your great work!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Toreros aren’t quite halfway to the longest streak in NCAA history:
34 games by Texas in 1977 and Florida Atlantic in 1999. As for this
weekend, it’s still a very intriguing series whether Hunter pitches or
not. A few weeks ago, the Waves were thinking they would have Hunter
back for this weekend. I’ll check with Steve Rodriguez this week to see
what his post-exams status is — check back at BaseballAmerica.com for
updates.

Aaron Fitt: By the way, the best part about
Baseball America’s brand-new offices is the large flat-screen TV with
Direct TV in the kitchen. I just walked back there and caught the end
of a replay of the Texas A&M-Missouri game from Sunday. Missouri
lefthander Rick Zagone came back out to start the 10th inning, and Fox
Sports showed a graphic that said: “142 pitches.” Predictably, the
143rd pitch was deposited over the left-center-field fenced by Kyle
Colligan. I know Missouri’s bullpen has been shaky, but surely the
Tigers had a better option than sending Zagone back out to the mound
after 142 pitches. And if there was no better option, then well, that
says a lot about Missouri’s chances in the postseason.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Angeles, CA asks:

Aaron,
I ask every week, but have never seen an answer. Why does BA use games
at time of play for Versus Top 25 instead of games against current Top
25 teams? Fullerton is listed as 7-5 against the Top 25, but the Titans
are only 4-6 against currently ranked teams? Don’t games against
Stanford (not counted because they were not ranked at the time) mean
more than games versus UCLA (used because they were ranked at the time)
at this point in time?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
You could twist that around any way you like, Jeff. Sure, wins against
UCLA or Louisiana-Lafayette don’t look so great right now, but then
again beating Long Beach State early in the year when those guys were
on fire looks more impressive than beating Long Beach State last week
when they were unranked. A team’s ranking at the time of the meeting is
generally a decent indicator of how well a team is playing at the time
of the meeting, and that’s why we use it.

 Q:  Ron Burgundy from San Diego asks:

Aaron, do you think four West Coast teams will host? If so, would they be ASU, Stanford, Fullerton and USD (at SDSU again)?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Right now, ASU, Stanford, Fullerton and USD look very safe, assuming
the Toreros can work out another arrangement with the Aztecs. But I
think the West Coast will get a fifth team hosting, whether it’s Oregon
State, Arizona, UC Irvine or Long Beach State. It probably ought to get
six hosting, but that might be pushing it…

 Q:  Johan from Flushing, NY asks:

Aaron
- in your opinion, who gets Big West Pitcher of the Year honors -
Liebel from Long Beach or Gorgen from UCI? Right now maybe even Eddie
Gamboa from UC Davis is a longshot?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Right now I’d go with Gorgen by a hair. Whoever finishes stronger is
likely to win it, because right now it’s still very much up in the air.

 Q:  Bobby from KC, MO asks:

IS it time to panic yet for mizzou fans? Will they still make the tournament? if so what seed they lookin at?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Of course they’ll make the tournament, and no, it’s not time to panic.
But it is time to be concerned. Two of those games this weekend were
very winnable, but Missouri’s shaky pitching late in games cost it
big-time.

 Q:  bryan from houston asks:

Michigan
in the top 25. I do not understand the infatuation with keeping them in
the top 25 all year no matter what. Could you please explain.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I know it’s hard to believe for some folks, but there is baseball out
of the state of Texas, and it’s good baseball. The Wolverines did win a
regional last year at Vanderbilt, the best the SEC had to offer and the
No. 1 national seed, and nearly every key part of that team is back.
And Michigan has gone 30-10, 17-3 in conference. Nobody’s saying the
Big Ten is as good as the Big 12, but Michigan has been very good since
the early going, and it really is not unreasonable to have the
clear-cut best team in the Big Ten ranked in the top 25.

 Q:  Chris Dusek from Phoenix AZ asks:

Why
are the Aggies ranked behind 2 other Big 12 teams in your poll? They
have rolled off 15 consecutive Big 12 wins after sweeping Missouri this
weekend. What gives? You have a bunch of Longhorns on the payroll or
what????

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Aggies are behind Oklahoma State because the Cowboys beat them in
the head-to-head series. The Cowboys also beat Nebraska and Missouri
and Texas head-to-head; for my money, they’ve got the most impressive
resume of any Big 12 team. The Aggies are behind Nebraska because the
Cornhuskers haven’t done anything to drop in the rankings — they had a
very strong 4-1 week. But Texas A&M has been very, very impressive,
and it jumped eight spots into the top 10 this week. Maybe you want us
to ignore how everyone else in the rankings did and just rank A&M
No. 1, but that’s not how the rankings work.

 Q:  Meyer from Toronto, ON asks:

Are you surprised at all about St Johns run this season in the Big East? More importantly LHP Matt Tosoni’s 5-0 record.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Not surprised at all. St. John’s was our pick to win the Big East in
the preseason, and they were just outside the preseason top 25. The
Johnnies have enough good arms to compete with anybody in the nation,
and Tosoni is one of the unheralded pitchers there. St. John’s looks at
him as a tough lefthander who can change the pace by slowing opponents’
bats down.

 Q:  Matt from Ridgeland, MS asks:

Aaron,
Where is the love for C-USA? No mention during the podcast and only
Rice is ranked. How have East Carolina and Southern Miss not made it
into the rankings yet with their rpi?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The problem with C-USA is it’s a good league with a lot of solid teams
after the Owls who keep beating each other up. We’ve had the Pirates in
and out of the rankings all year, but they were swept by Rice just last
weekend and weren’t going to climb back in by sweeping Presbyterian.
Southern Miss deserves a lot of credit for sweeping a good Houston team
even without its best pitcher (Barry Bowden) and best hitter (Trey
Sutton), but the Golden Eagles lost a series to Tulane just last week
and lost two of three to ECU two weeks before that. The Green Wave won
a pair against Memphis and took two of three from USM last weekend, but
lost to Houston the week before that and went 1-1-1 against Marshall.
None of those teams has emerged yet as the clear No. 2 team, and until
one does, none of them will be ranked.

 Q:  Jason from New Orleans asks:

What
is you take on the Green Wave. Do you see them continuing their run at
the CUSA Crown. And do you see them making the post season?
Thanks

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Following up on Tulane, I don’t think there’s any way the Wave catches
Rice to win the CUSA title, but second place is still a strong
possibility—they’re percentage points ahead of Southern Miss right now. Tulane
needs to sweep UCF at home next weekend, because its final two
weekends—at ECU and home against Rice—will be challenging. Tulane’s
strength is still its pitching, but this is an improved offensive team
as well, with more power and speed than a year ago. Guys like Barto and
McFadden really need to get going for them, though.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:

Marcel Champlaigne’s benching a permanent thing? Or just time to iron out his defense?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I have a feeling Champagnie’s 15 minutes are up…

 Q:  Jim from Middlesboro, KY asks:

Kentucky
now has back to back series wins against ranked teams FL and Vandy. Do
you think winning 2 of their final 3 conference series will earn them a
regional host? Thanks so much.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the Wildcats need to go at least 6-3 in those final nine SEC
games to finish at least 17-13 in conference. Their RPI is climbing—it
was 35 last week but is up to 28 in the latest boydsworld.com
figures—but is still not quite in hosting territory. But that closing
stretch is very manageable, with home series against LSU and Ole Miss
and a road trip to Tennessee. At this point, Georgia looks like a very
strong bet to host, and South Carolina is still likely to host in my
mind. But Kentucky might be the third host, surpassing Vanderbilt and
Ole Miss.

 Q:  Willie from Ohio asks:

The
Kent State Golden Flashes have been playing solid ball winning 16 of
their past 20 games, now perched atop the MAC, their usual spot.
How far do you feel their weekend horses can take them, and are they
starting to get on any radar screens ?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
As I’ve been saying all year, Kent State is a major postseason sleeper
if its three power starters—Brad Stillings, Chris Carpenter and Kyle
Smith—can come up big at the right time. Those are three blue-chip
guys, the kind of pitchers who are capable of getting hot and carrying
a team to Omaha. I’m not saying that’s going to happen . . . but it’s
not outside the realm of possibility.

 Q:  Mike from Durham asks:

Do you think the winner of the ACC will be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
That seems very likely. That Miami-North Carolina series the last
weekend of the regular season could very well determine who gets the
No. 1 overall seed.

 Q:  Eric from Atlanta asks:

Really? Stanford? #3?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
You certainly make a compelling argument against the Cardinal. I guess
we should ignore the fact that they’ve won weekend series against
Nebraska, Fullerton, Texas, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and
Southern Cal?

 Q:  Andy from Dallas asks:

Aaron,
With Baylor dealing with a second half skid, what do you think the chances are the Coach Steve Smith heads to Miss St?
Thanks!
Andy

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Very small. Baylor is poised to make an Omaha run in 2009, assuming
that balleyhooed 2006 recruiting class can finally live up to
expectations as juniors. The Bears have beautiful facilities, and Smith
has carved out his own legacy in Waco. I suspect the Bulldogs will make
a serious run at him, but in the end, I think he stays.

 Q:  Heath from Kansas asks:

Is Wichita State still a regional host?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Not if it fails to win the Missouri Valley Conference, that’s for sure.
Right now, the Shockers are neck and neck with Missouri State in the MVC standings. Even if they win the league, their
chances aren’t great, because Wichita’s RPI is 26 and falling: looming
series against Evansville and Bradley are going to kill them. The
Shockers really needed to win those midweek games the last two weeks
against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, and they lost both.

 Q:  TCU Frogs from Fort Worth asks:

Do you see us getting an at large bid or what? Ya’ll had SDSU ahead of us, but after Strasburg they don’t appear to have much.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Horned Frogs reclaimed their mantle as team to beat in the Mountain
West by taking two of three at San Diego State. Right now, I’d have to
say TCU is the favorite to win the league’s automatic bid, but if the
Frogs get bounced in the conference tournament, I think they’re
building a solid at-large resume.

 Q:  Jake from Houston, TX asks:

Tell me about Texas A&M’s chances of getting a top 8 national seed.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Strong to quite strong. It’s looking like the Aggies are going to win
the Big 12 — that series at Nebraska in two weeks will go a long way
in deciding it, but it helps that the Aggies have a 2.5 game cushion.
And the Big 12 winner should get a national seed.

 Q:  Paul from Brentwood asks:

Could
UC Riverside finish in 2nd or 3rd in the Big West and have a overall
losing record and still get a bid in the 64 team tournment?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Nope. Teams need to finish above .500 to get at-large bids. So unless
UC Riverside wins the Big West title, it’s not getting in, because
there’s no conference tournament to allow them to make a run and get in
as a sub-.500 team.

 Q:  Jamie from Tampa asks:

Can the ACC get three National Seeds? Does FSU still have a shot? How important is the RPI in determining this issue?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the ACC still has a very good chance of getting three national
seeds. Boyd’s World still has FSU second in the RPI even after dropping
that series this weekend, and the remaining schedule is manageable: at
Clemson, home against Savannah State and N.C. State. Miami and UNC seem
very likely to be national seeds, barring unexpected slumps down the
stretch.

 Q:  Steve Matusz from San Diego, CA asks:

If
you had one to game to win the College World Series: who do you want on
the mound: Steve Strasburg (SDSU) or Brian Matusz (USD)?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Can’t go wrong either way, but I’ll take the junior with a longer track
record as a starter over the sophomore who was in the bullpen a year
ago.

 Q:  Tim from Beaumont asks:

Is Ike Davis hurt? Saw that he missed a couple games this weekend…

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Yeah, Ike Davis strained a rib muscle and is out indefinitely, which is
why Mike Leake played first base Saturday and Sunday. We’ll monitor
this closely, but the Sun Devils need him back as soon as
possible—even more for his left arm than for his power bat.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all I’ve got time for today. See you next week.

College | #2008 #Chat

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