Top 25 Chat (May 1)

Moderator: Teddy Cahill will be here at 2 p.m. ET to chat about the latest Top 25 poll, powered by Louisville Slugger

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s college baseball chat. I’m still deep in the heart of Texas and eating tacos. Let’s add your questions to that mix.

Burke Lyle (Athens Georgia): Can Auburn with Thompson and Mize make a national championship run with their pitching? Also what is Kentucky's biggest strength after being ranked 6? Didn't think this would happen.
Teddy Cahill: I am very impressed with Auburn. So impressed, in fact, that I moved the Tigers into my Eight for Omaha field this week. Coming into the year, I thought Auburn was going to be heavily reliant on its rotation, and it was early in the season. But that’s no longer the case. The Tigers’ offense has heated up and some key bullpen arms have stepped forward. They’ve won three SEC series without Keegan Thompson or Casey Mize being available. They won in Starkville without winning a game started by either of those guys. So, yes, I believe Auburn can make a deep run. Kentucky’s biggest strength is its offense. The Wildcats lead the SEC in scoring. But they can pitch too. They’ve been really impressive as well.

Steve (Greenville, SC): How many ACC teams get a national seed? Louisville and UNC. Does Clemson need to win 2 of 3 vs Louisville in 2 weeks to get a national seed? Honestly who has Clemson beat? They lost 2 of 3 to FSU who isn't the team they usually are. They were swept by UNC. I guess beating Wake Forest 2 of 3 are the best wins and I think Wake is a bit over rated. Your thoughts? I appreciate it.
Teddy Cahill: We talked about this some on the podcast today – look for that online this afternoon. Louisville and UNC look to be in great shape. Clemson has the RPI for it (No. 4), but you’re right, the resume doesn’t look as robust. Clemson’s best series win is Virginia. The Wake series win is solid as well. But I don’t know if the ACC gets three national seeds. I think Clemson’s series against Louisville is now must-win for the Tigers. Maybe winning the ACC Tournament again would get it done, but to really feel comfortable, it’s going to need to make a statement in May.

EugeneDave (Eugene, Oregon): O State Ballers keep rolling. Besides the Beavs, who are your Eight for Omaha? Is another CWS Finals rematch possible, with the powder blue boys from NC?
Teddy Cahill: Conveniently, I update my Eight for Omaha field every week. Here’s this week’s (http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/off-bat-offensive-explosion-powers-texas-tech-series-win/#UdewigFBS55dWRcC.97): Auburn, Florida, Long Beach State, Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon State, TCU, Texas Tech. So, sure, a rematch with North Carolina is possible. They’re not ranked Nos. 1 and 3 for no reason.

Dave (California): Has Loyola Marymount been considered on your end to get into the Top 25? I know you put an emphasize on weekend series and they are 10-0-1 this year in those series. Don't think the WCC gets enough credit every year.
Teddy Cahill: Loyola Marymount showed up on our worksheet early in the season. Lately, however, the Lions’ RPI has really started working against it. Sitting at No. 65, they’re chances for an at-large bid are not great. At this point in the season, that is something we look at when putting the Top 25 together. But LMU has had a really solid season. It looks like another fun WCC race.

Brad P. (Lexington): After the series win vs. South Carolina and the offensive capabilities along with some solid pitching, do you feel like this Kentucky team can reach Omaha?
Teddy Cahill: So while I was working on Eight for Omaha last night, I gave serious consideration to Kentucky. Two factors concerned me: 1) UK’s .969 fielding percentage. That ranks 12th in the SEC and is below what coaches are generally aiming for. 2) Lack of postseason experience. If it was just one of those, I’d probably feel ok about it. But Kentucky’s done a great job of proving people wrong all season. They have the talent for a deep postseason run.

Noah (Austin): What is a realistic projection for Texas in terms of seeding and advancement?
Teddy Cahill: Texas is No. 26 in RPI, tied for fourth in the Big 12, so probably a two seed. As for advancing, that’s all about getting hot at the right time. The Longhorns have the pitching to make noise, but will have to have a good weekend offensively.

Daniel (Tampa, FL): At 22-22 right now, what does Miami have to do in order to keep their NCAA streak alive of 44 years being in the tournament?
Teddy Cahill: Just win, baby. The Canes are at No. 72 in RPI, but have eight games left against Top 100 opponents, including three on the road. Win the three series they have left and I think they’ll be able to go to the ACC Tournament without having to win it to get in. But winning a series at Virginia is going to be no easy task.

BHH (Louisiana): It's been an interesting year in the Southland Conference- your two favorites are both having nice campaigns, while McNeese seems to be one of those clubs anchored into the RPI top 30 with one single loss outside the top 100. That being said, SLU has a nice 13-7 record vs the top 100 with 8 of their final 11 games also inside that number. If they can sneak into the top 3 of the SLC standings and maintain a top 40ish RPI, do you think they can receive a second consecutive at-large bid?
Teddy Cahill: Yes, I think Southeastern Louisiana is very much alive for an at-large bid. They’ve got seven games left against Top 100 opponents, so maintaining their RPI should be feasible. But it would help a lot to win the series against Sam Houston this weekend because finishing in the middle of the pack in the conference would be a mark against it.

Josh (Texas): What in the world is going on in the Sunbelt?! There's so much parity it seems as the league is costing themselves a chance to be more than an automatic bid league. Any of the top teams on the cusp of top 25? Including GA Southern with most overall wins in conference I believe
Teddy Cahill: Frankly, no. Louisiana-Lafayette would have been, probably would have been ranked even, if it had won its series this weekend. There are a bunch of good teams in that conference, but it doesn’t look like there are any great teams. It’s very surprising to see how close it is to being a one-bid league. I think it probably ends up with two bids, but with only one top 50 RPI team, it’s hard to see it getting more than that.

John (San Juan capistrano): Incredible turnaround for Stanford this year. To what do you attribute their success this year?
Teddy Cahill: When I wrote the cover story of the college preview issue about Stanford, I wrote about this being a vintage Stanford team built on its pitching. I think I sold its lineup short. The Cardinal can pitch, yes, but they have a solid all-around lineup that can beat you in a few different ways. I also think there’s some factor of the players wanting to send Marquess out with a bang. That was something they all talked about in the preseason. They’re hungry and they have some extra motivation to go with a really talented roster.

Tim Beaman (Orlando): How about the USF bulls! Took 2/3 against Houston to get the tie in the AAC? Any way of host a regional and what about top players for 2017&2018
Teddy Cahill: South Florida came up with a really big series win this weekend to move into the Top 25 for the first time since 2013. It’s been a really strong season for USF, but I don’t think it’s a hosting resume. The RPI (No. 25) probably needs some work still, but they also are a little light on marquee wins and road wins. To this point they’ve only played 10 road games (going 6-4), though they do close with eight straigh on the road. USF’s best nonconference series win is Iowa. That’s nice, but it’s not really a difference maker. But, first, they have to win the conference.

John (Oklahoma): Could Oklahoma still have a chance to host ? Could you see them taking 2 from TCU ?
Teddy Cahill: I don’t think it’s out of the question because the Sooners have some good series left on the schedule. But I think they probably have to win all three of their remaining weekends. Do that, finish third in the Big 12 and they might be right back in the mix. But that’s not an easy path.

HOO Fan (C'ville): Any chance UVA gets a national seed? Do series wins against Miami and GT and a deep ACC tourney run give them a chance?
Teddy Cahill: I don’t see it. Before this weekend at Florida State, Virginia didn’t have a series win against a likely regional team. I’m already wondering if the conference will get three national seeds, and Clemson would really have to fall off for Virginia to get ahead of it in the standings and RPI.

Greg (Orange, CA): Is UCLA anywhere near the bottom part of the top 25 at this point or are they looking more like in the 30-35 range and aiming for a 3 seed at a regional?
Teddy Cahill: While we all like UCLA, they are not in the Top 25 mix right now. They’re on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. I think the Bruins will finish strong and get in, but they still have work to do.

Bob (North Carolina): Could the Heels run the table the rest of the regular season? They seem like they are about unbeatable after the sweep of Clemson.
Teddy Cahill: Yes, because North Carolina’s schedule in May is exceedingly favorable. My answer probably would have been the same if it had been Clemson that swept the series. UNC won’t play another regional team until the ACC Tournament.

Big Spur (SC): 5 straight series losses for my Gamecocks and now we go to Baton Rouge this weekend. Are we on shaky ground for the tournament?
Teddy Cahill: It’s getting much more worrisome. The RPI is 32, which has drifted down to eighth in the SEC. South Carolina is now under .500 in the league, which isn’t a deal breaker, but also isn’t ideal. And, obviously, the Gamecocks are trending in the wrong direction. I think they close well enough to get in, but they’re going to have to show more than they have the last month.

Kelly R (Lubbock, TX): I really enjoyed your piece today on Texas Tech's big series win (and blowout in final game) over TCU ... after seeing the Red Raiders this weekend (in adverse conditions, weather-wise and personnel-wise) what is your forecast for them on a potential CWS run again in '17?
Teddy Cahill: Thanks, Kelly. It was quite the day yesterday for Texas Tech. And quite the atmosphere in Lubbock all weekend. Very impressive. But, as for the CWS, I’ve been on that train for Texas Tech for what feels like all season. I think I put them in my Eight for Omaha field after seeing them in Minute Maid in week three. This is a really good team top to bottom. And to see the Red Raiders continue to win without Davis Martin and Tanner Gardner is really impressive. At full strength, Texas Tech is a national title contender. It might even be with what it has right now.

John (Memphis, TN): Can you put together a mock 25 man roster for this summer's Team USA CNT (12/13 hitters and 12/13 pitchers)?
Teddy Cahill: So I actually did this a couple weeks ago for the biggest CNT fan I’ve come across. This isn’t actually 24 because I wasn’t willing to make final calls on a couple position player spots, but it’ll work. C – Joey Bart, Cal Raleigh, Chris Cullen INF – Luken Baker, Nick Madrigal, Braden Shewmake, Nick Quintana. OF – Seth Beer, D.J. Artis, Matt Wallner. SP – Brady Singer, Casey Mize, Tim Cate, Konnor Pilkington, Nolan Kingham, Jackson Kowar, Shane McClanahan, Steven Gingery. RP – Kenyon Yovan, Durbin Feltman, Chris Rivera, Dallas Woolfolk

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks for all your questions. If I didn’t answer yours, you can leave it in the comments and I’ll try to come back and answer there.

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