Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt


Moderator: Aaron Fitt will discuss the new Top 25 rankings and the weekend in college baseball at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Jeramey from Statesboro asks:

As
always thanks for answering questions you do a great job. Now with the
Southern Conference wide open who do you see winning it, and does
Georgia Southern have any shot of making the NCAA tourny as an at large?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, let’s get started with a SoCon question. Elon is in the
clubhouse at 19-8, and College of Charleston will have to sweep its
final regular-season series at Western Carolina in order to claim a
share of the regular-season title (the Cougars did win the head-to-head
series against the Phoenix). That is certainly possibly, but I wouldn’t
bet on it; Elon looks like the SoCon champ. Anyone could win the SoCon
tournament, as Wofford proved last year, but I think a team like
Charleston or Georgia Southern is likely to bash its way through, like
the Terriers did. But I think Elon and CofC are the only teams with
good at-large chances—the Eagles probably need to win the tournament
to get in, even after sweeping a big series against UNC Greensboro.

 Q:  Geoff from Irvine asks:

UC Irvine, any thoughts on regionals, if they keep dropping winable games, are they going to be out?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Anteaters are definitely a regional team, with a strong RPI (21), a
gaudy overall record (33-13) and a number of quality wins on the resume
(series wins at Long Beach and Tulane stick out the most). But I’d feel
better about their chances to host a regional if they had swept one or
both of the Northridge and Pacific series. Now I believe they’ll have
to finish very strong against a tough but manageable closing stretch:
at UC Davis and home against UC Santa Barbara.

 Q:  Clint from Overland Park KS asks:

With
Alabama taken two of three from Florida. Where does Alabama stand in
making a regional. If they take two of three from Georgia you would
think there in.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Crimson Tide has won four straight series with their backs against
the wall, including huge sets the last two weeks at Arkansas and home
against Florida. I’d say Alabama has just about played its way in
despite a mediocre 53 RPI, as long as it doesn’t get swept by Georgia.
If that happens, Bama will likely be on the outside of the SEC
tournament looking in, which won’t bode well for its regional chances.
Amazingly, if the SEC tournament started today, South Carolina would be
the ninth team, but the Gamecocks could still get in even if they don’t
make it to Hoover thanks to a strong RPI (20) and a 9-5 mark against
the top 25.

 Q:  Josh from New Orleans asks:

With
the University of New Orleans streaking (now 13 in a row) and defeating
Tulane this past week (winning 2 of 3 on the year) and sweeping their
conference opponent this weekend, what do they have to do to get some
respect from the voters in this poll?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
First “we don’t get no respect” question of the chat! Hey, we’ve got a
ton of respect for what UNO has done this year, and a combined 9-3
record against Southern Miss, Tulane, Alabama, LSU and Troy speaks
pretty loud — that’s the reason we debated ranking New Orleans
strongly today, and if we had another open spot or two we definitely
would have brought them in. Unfortunately, UNO has an uphill fight to
get ranked because of its conference schedule; weekend series wins
against Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and
Florida International simply are not as impressive as series wins
against East Carolina, Southern Mississippi, UCF and Memphis. So we had
one open spot this week, and we gave the nod to the team that has won
more weekend series against regional-caliber clubs, not the team with
the stronger midweek credentials. It could have gone either way, but
that’s the way we went. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect UNO.

 Q:  Dan from Alexandria, VA asks:

Great
series between Texas A&M and Nebraska. Both teams must feel like
they not only should have won the series but gotten a sweep! What are
the chances both teams wind up with a Top 8 seed?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I’d say the chances are very good, indeed. Both are inside the top 8 in
RPI, both have gaudy records in conference and overall. Right now, my
best guess for the eight national seeds is (in no particular order):
Miami, North Carolina, Florida State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Arizona
State, Rice, Georgia. We’ll see if conference tournaments change
anything.

 Q:  Jeramey from Statesboro asks:

Right
now, Whos is your pick for the Golden Spikes award? And has Georgia
Southerns Chris Sheahan had any mention (.443/.560/.838) and also ranks
top 10 and 6 other categories? what are your thoughts on his year?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Shehan and William & Mary’s Mike Sheridan might be the two guys
putting up the best numbers with the least amount of fanfare. Both are
strong All-America contenders, but probably long-shots for any Player
of the Year honors since there are so many players out there putting up
similar or better numbers against superior competition.

 Q:  mike from brookline, ma asks:

Hi
Aaron…love the chats…Are Collin Cowgill and Sawyer Carroll serious
candidates for the All american Team? Also, what prospects does KY have
in hosting a regional?
Thanks!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Absolutely they are, although it’s important to remember that those
numbers are significantly inflated by their extremely hitter-friendly
home ballpark. Still, that didn’t stop Ryan Strieby from getting
All-America honors a couple of years ago. Last week I thought the
Wildcats lost their shot at hosting when they were swept by LSU, but
they revitalized their hopes by sweeping Tennessee while Vanerbilt lost
a home series to Georgia. Right now, Georgia and LSU look like locks to
host, and I expect the SEC to get one more—probably either Vandy or
Kentucky. The Commodores are higher in the RPI and higher in the
standings, so they’ve got the inside track even though Kentucky won the
head-to-head. The SEC tournament could be a major factor.

 Q:  Bob from Chicago,IL asks:

Aaron
does Coastal Carolina need to win out, including the Big South
tournament, to keep their chances at hosting an NCAA Regional alive, or
will their RPI drop so much with the bad conference games that they may
stand a better shot at hosting a Super Regional (if they make it)?
Thanks.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
It’s unclear how receptive the NCAA will be to Coastal’s plan to add
temporary seating to Charles Watson Stadium, but I still think losing
that series to Georgia Tech last weekend was a major blow to Coastal’s
hosting chances. The Chanticleers are still in great shape in the RPI
(ninth, according to boydsworld.com), but the Big South is so poor this
year that they really needed to win that big series against a power
conference team, like they did late last year against Nebraska.

 Q:  Patrick from Florida asks:

What
do you think Georgia’s chances are at a national seed? On one hand, you
would think that a runaway SEC champ would be a shoe-in, but on the
other hand series losses to Arizona, Oregon State and Georgia Tech
don’t help things. I personally think we need to go 4-0 this week to
feel at all comfortable about getting one.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The runaway SEC champ should be a safe bet for a national seed,
regardless of two tough nonconference losses the first two weeks of the
season.

 Q:  Frank from Philadelphia asks:

What
does NC State need to do in their series against FSU and the ACC
tourney to host a regional? Their RPI and rankings suggest that they’re
a borderline top 16 team. Will the fact that 3 ACC teams are definite
hosts hurt the Wolfpack’s chances?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the Wolfpack will host if it can win that series in
Tallahassee. Otherwise, it’ll be tough, barring a run to the ACC
tournament finals, and even that might not be quite enough. Give NC
State credit for taking care of business against the bottom half of the
ACC, but they really need another series win against a regional
team—right now the only one they’ve got came back in early March
against Virginia.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach asks:

Do
you see the winner of the big west hosting a regional and possible a
super regional? (if it is anybody but riverside) Fullerton clearly has
the inside edge. Long Beach could do it but would almost need to sweep
Cal Poly and Fullerton. Irvine is too far out and would need sweeps at
UC davis and at home against UCSB.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Fullerton is a lock to host a regional, and if a second West Coast team
gets a national seed (which it really should), the Titans should be
first in line.

 Q:  Joan from Tennessee asks:

The
University of South Carolina had another dissappointing week. I had
such high hopes for them this season and haven’t had much to celebrate
(except the Clemson rivalry). Even though they will still make the
postseason, what do you give their chances of actually making some
noise in postseason play?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
It looks like South Carolina won’t be hosting a regional in the final
year of Sarge Frye Field, and the Gamecocks are clearly a much better
team at home than on the road—they’ve lost four of their five
conference road series this year and been swept in three of them. So
that doesn’t bode particularly well for their postseason chances. That
said, this offense is dangerous enough to get hot and bludgeon its way
through a regional against anyone.

 Q:  Steve from MS asks:

Do
you see the Ole Miss Rebels making the SEC tournament? It looks like
we’ve got to take 2 of 3 at Kentucky, if all other SEC teams do what is
expected of them. And where do you see Scott Bittle going in the draft?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: If the Rebels take two out of three this weekend, they’re in. As for Bittle, my gut says he winds up as a third-round pick.

 Q:  Dave from Manhattan asks:

What do you think of Tulane’s three game sweep over ECU and do you think the Greenwave have a shot at hosting a regional?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
It’s obviously a huge series for Tulane, which has gotten hot at the
right time. That said, Tulane probably needs to win that final series
against Rice to host a regional, because its RPI is middle-of-the-pack.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:

REALISTICALLY,
how many teams will the pac10 get in? You have us alotted for 6, but it
seems the SEC driven committee usually hoses the west. Will we really
end up with only 5 or (gasp) 4?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Five is starting to seem more and more likely. Washington right now
looks like it would be the sixth team, but its RPI is just too low for
an at-large, and that closing stretch (at ASU, home against Stanford)
is brutal. UCLA has done nothing to make its case for a bid and
probably needs to win about seven of its final eight to get in.
Washington State probably needs to sweep its final two conference
series to get back to .500 in the Pac-10 if its strong RPI is going to
mean anything. Every team in the Pac-10 has had opportunities to make
its case, and none of them is really taking advantage. Right now my
prediction is Arizona State, Stanford, Cal, Arizona and Oregon State
are the five that get in; six is looking like a pipe dream.

 Q:  John from North Bend, Oregon asks:

Where
do you see the Oregon State Beavers landing in the postseason? Is a
tough Pac-10 and the fact that they pulled it out last year enough to
get them in? How many teams out of the Pac-10 do you see getting in?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think OSU’s strong RPI and good collection of series wins against
quality teams will get it in, and a soft closing stretch will allow the
Beavers to make a run at being a No. 2 seed, although today they look
more like a No. 3.

 Q:  Joe from Houston asks:

As
a Rice fan I’ve been skeptical about these owls all season (by Rice
standards), with freshman playing key roles, unsettled pitching and
Buenger and Dotson making minimal contributions, but it looks like the
OG Wayne Graham has the owls peaking at the right time. Do you think
they can sustain it against consistent, elite competition in the
post-season? And if you will indulge a little crystal balling, will
Gayhart and Luna be back next season?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
To me, the most amazing thing about the 2008 Owls isn’t that they’ve
been able to go 39-11 after losing Savery, Henley, Lehmanm, Friday and
Tacker, but that they’ve done it without major contributions from
Buenger and Dodson. I do think they’ve got enough quality veterans on
the mound to make a deep postseason run. Even though the lineup has a
number of new faces playing key roles and not as much firepower as in
years past, the one constant is that it’s still a group of hitters with
mature offensive approaches that don’t give away at-bats. That’s a
major part of Rice’s sustained success, and it comes directly from its
outstanding coaching.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:

Aaron,
I know this is an old argument, but I’m bringing it up again and would
like to hear your opinion. When choosing the at-large teams, the
committee presumably is looking for the best teams not to have secured
a conference title. What I want to know is if they ever look or have
considered looking at relative strength. For instance, in my neck of
the baseball woods, Delaware, back when they were NAC/America East
members, needed to win the conference tourney to get in. However, based
on their relative strength (recruits, facilities, schedule), they were
dominant in their low mid-major world. Take Canisius this year. They
are no better than the majority of the teams they play, yet are
dominating. No, they can’t match up with even the weakest BCS
conference teams, but that’s not the point. Based on who and what they
are versus equal competition, they are every bit as dominating and
deserving as top-ranked Miami. Will the committee ever reward teams
like this? Thanks

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t think they ever will, Marty, and nor do I think they should.
There needs to be some objective baseline—ability to compete
nationally. When it comes down to it, the NCAA tournament is a playoff
to determine the national champion, and as you conceded, the big
schools are always going to have a much better chance of doing that
than the Canisiuses and the Delawares of the world. Those schools are
rewarded for a great year with a regional berth if they win their
respective conference tournaments. If those conferences improve to the
point that they start winning regionals, thus proving they can compete
nationally, they will be rewarded with more bids. That’s the way it’s
always going to be, and that’s the way it should be.

 Q:  Jennifer from Nebraska in Spirit asks:

Aaron
— back in March in this chat, you said that the Big 12 title would be
wrapped up before the Mizzou-NE matchup this weekend — and that NE was
not the best, or even the second-best, team in the Big 12. Wrong team
on #1 (you picked Mizzou to win), but still accurate. Do you still
stand by the second comment? If I’m being honest, I think I agree with
you: A&M is a better team, and probably Oklahoma State, too. But,
Nebraska has more heart and they continually find ways to win games
they should not.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Clearly I was wrong on the first comment, and kudos to Nebraska and
Texas A&M for putting together marvelous years. I still
believe—and Mike Anderson has said the same—that the Cornhuskers are
less talented than Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma State and probably
even Texas and Baylor. That said, I think Nebraska is the best team in
the Big 12, because talent isn’t everything. That’s an extremely tough,
extremely well-coached, extremely experienced team, and they’re going
to be a tough out in the postseason.

 Q:  Matt from Queens, NY asks:

Will
there be a push to get a Regional at St. John’s this year and promote
college baseball in the north? Or will the NCAA be content to keep it
in the South and West will they know they will draw?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the NCAA should put a regional up at St. John’s, and I think it
will, barring an early Big East tournament exit for the Johnnies. The
NCAA actually does want to grow the game in new markets, and the Big
East and Big Ten are very appealing untapped markets.

 Q:  GC from Orlando asks:

Explain
these poll mechanics…
a) Georgia jumps from 11 to 7 in a week in which they went 2-2, and got
blasted at home midweek? I guess their 10 non-league losses mean
nothing.
b) That Michigan keeps elevating with their staggering 1-5 record
against Top 100 RPI teams. Think about that, they have 38 wins, and ONE
against a team in the top 100. The RPI may not mean everything,
however, consider that number (part of the NCAA committee’s criteria)
against other teams… North Carolina (your #2 team) has 32. Georgia
Tech (an unranked team) has 22. Even Columbia has more than that (2).
c) UC Irvine goes from 13th to 12th after an awe-inspiring 3-1 week
against teams outside the top 100 of the RPI, featuring a nice home
loss to a 200+ team on Saturday.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
You make very good points, and I’ll wrap up the chat by addressing
them.
a) The Bulldogs went on the road and won a series against the
second-place team in the SEC to clinch the SEC title. That simply
outweighs the midweek loss and other, earlier nonconference losses.
Georgia is the runaway champion of a league that is probably going to
get at least seven, probably eight and possibly nine regional bids. It
deserves to be in the top 10 after winning that big road series.

Aaron Fitt:
b) The lack of quality wins that you point out explains why Michigan is
ranked just 17th, while other teams with 39-11 overall records (Rice,
for instance) are comfortably in the top 10. But all the Wolverines can
do is win the games on their schedule, and they have done that
convincingly. This is a very talented team—that’s why we ranked it
eighth in the preseason—and it’s performing up to expectations. As I
point out seemingly every week, Michigan actually won a regional last
year, and it’s much the same team this year. It’s not Michigan’s fault
the rest of the Big Ten is down.

Aaron Fitt: c) An
uninspiring 3-1 week for Irvine if ever there was one, but it’s a 3-1
week nonetheless. We talked about moving Cal ahead of Irvine, but the
Bears aren’t far removed from a four-game losing streak. The Anteaters
have lost back-to-back games just once all year. That consistency
counts for something. That’s one of those rankings decisions that could
have gone either way for us. That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for
the questions, and see you next week.

College | #2008 #Chat

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