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College Chat with Will Kimmey

Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your questions at 4 p.m. ET

 Q:  lance from lincoln asks:
Will, who is your pick to win it all? What are the Huskers chances?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Welcome everyone. I'm less than 18 hours from departing for Omaha, so the excitement is building. I can't pick Fullerton to win this thing anymore, so now I like a Tulane-Nebraska championship series. Both are very experienced teams with plenty of junior and senior leadership. Tulane showed me a lot in coming back after losing that first game. Lesser teams would have folded. Nebraska's dominance vs. Miami also impressed. I'll lean toward Tulane for now. I've got Texas as the spoiler, and my No. 3 pick. There's something about that Longhorns ju-ju, obviously put in place by Augie Garrido.

 Q:  Ryan from Dallas asks:
With Baylor's starting pitching depth of McCormick, Taylor, and Van Allen and a bullpen of Lamotta and Woody, do you think Baylor has a legit shot at the title? As has been the case most of the season, they will probably go as far as their offense takes them.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Just to get this out here, every team has a legit shot now that they're in Omaha. Baylor has been great 1-3 in the rotation and has owned Texas this year, so that's a nice opening salvo. What troubles me is if the Bears have to play a fourth or fifth game and go past VanAllen as a starter. They went .500 in midweek games this year, and they weren't often playing CWS-caliber opponents there. I like a strong start by Baylor, and by Tennessee for that matter, but depth in starting arms troubles me for either if they can't wrap up the bracket in three games.

 Q:  Stephen from Atlanta asks:
Should CWS be reseeded once you get Omaha? How's the favorite and is there sleeper if you can say once you get Omaha?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I think, and most coaches might agree with me, that things should get re-seeded after regionals. So many things can happen in a four-team regional that super-regional matchups often get sort of wacky. No offense to Southwest Missouri State or Ohio State, but those two schools played for a shot to Omaha at the same time that No. 1 seed Florida State and defending champ Texas battled in a super in 2003. If you re-seed then, there's no need after regionals. Upsets are fun, and good for the sport, though. I already talked about Texas, and another sleeper in Omaha might be Tennessee, as it's one of the few teams that's not a national seed. Hochevar and James Adkins can beat anyone, and if that happens in games 1 and 2, then the Vols need but one more win to get to the final series, at which point they'd have that duo to pitch again. The offense can score in bunches as well. Favorite for me is Tulane, with Nebraska No. 2

 Q:  Scott from Durham, NC asks:
Hey Will, are you suprised by the failure of traditional powerhouses CSF, UM, and USC to get to Omaha? With teams like Oregon State, Baylor (finally!), and Tulane making it in, it seems like there could be some new doors opening for programs that were on the verge before.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Tradition means jack once the teams get on the field. Oregon State-USC is a clear example of that. Those 12 national titles don't help the 2005 Trojans one bit. It's who's on which roster that matters. The Fullerton loss was the only upset here, and that was a stunner because it seemed the surest bet of any super-regional. That, folks, is why they play these games and don't just let me pick who gets to Omaha. It also allows us to see great guts and courage for an underdog like Arizona State to knock off the champs, and that's always an exciting story to watch.

 Q:  Mike from Dallas, TX asks:
I just wanted to thank you for doing these weekly chats. It is great for Baseball America and ESPN to give publicity to college baseball. I hope the CWS does not disappoint. That being said, what are your thoughts on the first round matchup between Texas and Baylor? Can Baylor go 5-0 vs UT this year? Do you think the tournament selection committee could have done anything to avoid these type of inter-conference matchups in the CWS?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Thanks for the kinds words. Makes the day go better. I do like Baylor there, because both teams play a similar style, but Baylor does it a tad better because its starters are a little more high end. Texas has come on of late, so this will surely not be a walk-over. Hey, if seedings held, this would be Mississippi facing Baylor. Or if Clemson could have finished Baylor, or Arkansas could have finished Texas when it had the chance, this wouldn't happen either. But this is the first time the Big 12 has had three teams in Omaha, so there's got to be some overlap somewhere. You can spread conference foes out to a degree, but when they're all so good, they enevitably will meet somewhere.

 Q:  Scott from Durham, NC asks:
Shane Robinson has picked up a couple of Player of the Year awards already. What kind of shot do you give him for the BA award against Gordon, Braun, and some of the other stiff competition this year. Do you see any two-way player being in the mix? It doesn't seem like any of these have stood out the way that Jason Jennings did a few years ago.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: We're going to announce this name, and our All-America teams Thursday at the CWS press day. Remember that Robinson was edged by Braun for the ACC player of the year honors, so I'd temper your expectations though he had an amazing year in being most of Florida State's offense. Micah Owings and Joe Savery both enjoyed great two-way years, and we got to see them duel on Sunday, so we'll see how that plays out. I can't give any more clues, here, sorry.

 Q:  Robert from Nebraska asks:
It appears that the strongest conference in the country this year was the Big 12. Getting three teams in the CWS is great for the conference and well deserved in my opinion. The SEC deserves consideration for getting 9 teams into the tourney obviously, but what do you think ended up being the toughest conference this year?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Two of the nine SEC tournament entries advanced to Omaha, two of the five Pac-10 teams did (and Oregon State beat league foe USC in supers) while the Big 12 went three for five. The Big West was 0-2 and the ACC went 0-7. For me that looks like the top end teams resided in the Pac-10 and Big 12, while the SEC offered the most top-to-bottom depth but not as many great teams. Maybe, and my West Coast friends and e-mailers will eat this up, if some Pac-10 and Big West schools got shipped east as No. 2 seeds and not packaged in deep, strong regionals like the ones at Long Beach and Fullerton this year, we'd see even more representation from the West. Basically, all the West Coasters played in 4 regionals, with two head to head supers, while the rest of the country got the other 12 regionals and six supers.

 Q:  Mike from New Orleans asks:
Is it possible to throw just two starting pitchers throughout the week in Omaha if you stay in the winners bracket? Ace #1: Friday, Wednesday, Sunday and Ace #2 Sunday and Saturday?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I don't think you'll see a guy mnakes three starts in that short a span. You'll need three pitchers at least, and maybe four. The best case would be Friday, then the following Thursday in an elimination game followed by a possible Monday night title series outing. John Hudgins basically did this for Stanford two years back, but anything more than this seems ill-advised from a health standpoint. But three starters will work if you win three straight to reach the finals.

 Q:  Lance from Texas asks:
How have teams with long absences from the CWS i.e. Oregon State & Baylor typically performed? Do you see teams like that get caught up in the glare of the spotlight?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: There's always some nervousness with players who haven't been here before, or coaches who have not. A drought of 10 years is basically the same as 50 or 500 though. Texas is the only repeat team from last year, the first time only one team has returned since 1991. Six Nebraska players played in the 2001 or 2002 CWS, and Tulane's Scott Madden played in 2001 (he's a redshirt senior now). Aside from those guys and Texas, no players have been here before. And coaches Pat McMahon and Rick Jones have made just one prior appearance, while Mike Anderson, Pat Casey and Steve Smith never have been here as head men. Rod Delmonico and Pat Murphy have played this game a few times before, and Augie Garrido basically owns a time share. Give him an edge in coaching.

 Q:  Jeremy from Portland, OR asks:
After their sloppy, but triumphant, series against Southern Cal, what do you think are the Beavers chances of making a deep run in Omaha?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I really liked the Beavers chances before watching those games. Three games don't make a season, but those types of struggles in the bullpen and with the gloves won't allow them to last long in Omaha against teams that hit much better than USC. Oregon State has to play better. It's offense looked fine, though a lot of it came against a thin pitching staff. How the Beavers play against Tulane Saturday should be a good barometer, but they aren't my favorites in this bracket.

 Q:  scott from Houston asks:
Where are the weaknesses of the Tulane team? They seem to let the runs pile up on them and have to scramble perpetually. Where would you put the emphasis this week if you were Rick Jones? Roll Wave...
 A: 

Will Kimmey: You can't change your team now or really get much better in any area. You have to play with what got your team this far. So look for Tulane to keep working opposing pitchers and getting everything it can out of its starters. There are some good arms in the bullpen, but the team is so good at scoring a bunch and working deep with the starters that those guys haven't pitched a lot of big innings this year. Not that they can't, just that they haven't. That'd be my strategy against them, to get the starters out and work on the bullpen.

 Q:  Dan from Orange County, CA asks:
Will ASU's pitching staff continue to pitch above their ability, or will it catch up them in Omaha? I love watching them play, so carefree and Coach Murphy was able to get them to come back from the devastating loss on Friday. Can they keep it going? GO DEVILS!
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Arizona State played it heart out in Fullerton and never quit. Fullerton didn't seem to be able to get much going offensively until that final game. The guess is that most opponents will pitch as well as Fullerton did, but will be able to score more effectively, especially Florida and Tennessee. The Devils need to play lower scoring games because after Larish there isn't the firepower to keep up with any of these teams if a home run derby breaks out. I like Urquidez here and Averill can hit or miss. Other than that, Murphy will have to keep pulling those rabbits out of hats and getting great unexpected performances offensively and defensively if ASU is to advance deep. My forecast for that isn't too bright, but it will be fun to watch if it happens.

 Q:  Scott from New Orleans, LA asks:
What little known player will make a big impact in Omaha?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Fun question, and I'll end on this one by offering up a player to watch from each time that you might not know a ton about if you haven't watched the club all year. Florida: Brian Leclerc hit two homers in the regional. Tennessee: Josh Alley does a great job of setting the table in front of some big bats. Nebraska: Brian Bohanan and Andy Gerch, both freshman, have been great since winning late jobs in the starting lineup. Arizona State: Zech Zinicola has a power arm and power bat, and could impact games in several ways. Oregon State: Freshman SS Darwin Barney can pick it defensively and always delivers key hits in the No. 3 hole for a hitter whose numbers don't excite you. Tulane: Mark Hamilton has great power, and even though he moves around the field and doesn't start every game, he can change things with one swing. Texas: Nick Peoples has started the offense since moving into the leadoff spot. He made all kinds of big plays vs. Mississippi. Baylor: Jeff Mandel and Seth Fortenberry have five homers since the start of the Big 12 tournament after hitting two before.

Will Kimmey: Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the CWS. We'll have chats and all kinds of other features once I arrive in Omaha.

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