College Top 25 Chat: May 24
Hello everybody. I'm going to have to keep
this tight today, because I'm heading to the airport this afternoon to
catch a flight to Birmingham for the SEC tournament. Just as a heads-up,
I'll be co-hosting a radio show on the field during batting practice on
Tuesday with Eric Saninocencio — you can listen to it streaming live
at secsports.com at noon central on Tuesday. Also, I'll be tweeting and
blogging all week from Hoover. You can follow me on Twitter: @aaronfitt.
jb (SC): I know its a long shot, but does
Clemson have a shot at hosting a regional? I know Coastal and South
Carolina are pretty much locks for nat'l seeds but would love to see the
state host 3 regionals. Thanks for your coverage!!!
It seemed like an extreme long shot a week
ago after the Tigers lost a series to Wake Forest, but all of a sudden
it doesn't seem like quite as much of a long shot. Compare Clemson's
resume to Florida State's: they're back-to-back in the RPI, they tied
for the ACC's Atlantic Division title (and Clemson got the tie-breaker
after sweeping FSU this weekend), and Clemson has an 18-11 record vs.
the top 50 in the RPI, compared to FSU's 13-12 mark. Assuming one of
those two teams host, you've either got three hosts in South Carolina or
three in Florida — what's the difference? Frankly, I think both those
teams might be more deserving of hosting than Miami, which has lost all
five of its series against Top 25 teams, but the Hurricanes have a
stronger RPI and a better conference record, so they're pretty safe as a
host. I feel like how FSU and Clemson fare in the ACC tournament will
have a lot to do with who hosts.
Steve (Orange County): I know that you won't
commit on job openings or possible openings until the end of the season.
But can you name a few coaches that you think have coached themselves
into being the hot names out their? Who do you feel are the hot coaches
in the east, midwest and west? Can't wait for regionals it should be
I'm hearing Virginia assistant Kevin
McMullan's name bandied about as a top candidate to land a good head
coaching job this spring, and deservedly so. I have a feeling some
big-budget teams could make a run at Dan McDonnell this year, but he
won't be easy to lure away from Louisville, where he's built a very
strong program. Scott Stricklin (Kent State) and Rob Cooper (Wright
State) could be factors at a place like Ohio State — both those guys
have won consistently in that region and both have excellent
reputations. Out West, San Diego assistant Jay Johnson and SDSU
assistant Eric Valenzuela should be on short lists, and Fullerton's
Sergio Brown has proven to be an elite recruiter out there, too. I also
wouldn't be surprised to see Rick Vanderhook get a shot as a head coach
somewhere, in the right situation.
Doug Moore (Fountain Valley, CA): Hi Aaron,
Your top four in the rankings get national seeds, along with probably
Coastal, Louisville, and UCLA. Does the committee skip TCU and Fullerton
and give that last national seed to South Carolina?
Doug, I think you're on the money with
those top seven, assuming Coastal wins its conference tournament and
Louisville doesn't fall on its face. I think TCU is a long shot for a
national seed because of its RPI, so for me it comes down to South
Carolina, Fullerton and Auburn as the top contenders for that last
national seed, with Arkansas and Georgia Tech still in the picture. I
think it's very much up for grabs heading into this week.
Arkham (Danville, PA): Aaron, Which elite
team's success hinges most on one player? In other words, who is the
nation's Mr. Indispensable?
Taurean (Orlando): How much has Kevin Chapman
helped his draft stock this year? Just won the SEC Pitcher of the Week,
A ton. He was a 50th-round pick last year,
and he'll definitely go in the top two rounds this year, and maybe as
high as the supplemental first round. Lefthanders with that kind of
power stuff do not grow on trees, and his performance has been
Heath (Kansas): Does Wichita State have any
chance at an at large?
A chance, but probably an outside chance.
The RPI just isn't there, and there is a lack of quality wins (just 3-5
vs. the top 50).
LMU Lion in the MO (Carthage, MO): Which team
folded worse late in the season, New Mexico State or Portland? Will that
leave the WCC with just one team in the postseason? And does Pacific
have a chance of being the third team taken from the Big West?
I'm a little more surprised by New Mexico
State's collapse — I thought those guys were finally going to break
through and get past Fresno this year, and then they fell apart. I never
thought Portland was better than San Diego, but this eight-game losing
streak has really exposed the Pilots. The WCC is definitely a one-bid
league, no question. And, no, the Big West does not have a chance — the
Tigers are just 88th in the RPI. That, alone, kills their chances.
chase (round rock): Aaron, how do you see Rice
finishing up this season? Super regional? CWS? Their bats have really
livened up but their pitching is still down.
Their pitching is coming around, though.
Mike Ojala had a great game this weekend, striking out 12, and Jared
Rogers has been solid, too. I think a Wall-Ojala-Rogers rotation is
absolutely good enough to make a postseason run, coupled with that
team's offensive capabilities, experience and toughness. I'm not picking
the Owls for Omaha, but they do have a chance to win a regional, and I
will not be shocked if they wind up back at Rosenblatt.
John (Raleigh): I have heard that North
Carolina has a chance to make the NCAA tournament even though they did
not make the ACC tournament. Is this true? Would seem other teams in
the conference would be slighted if this were to happen.
UNC does have a chance, as I wrote in
today's Three Strikes. It would probably be at BC's expense; those teams
finished with identical records in the ACC, but UNC finished stronger,
had a much better RPI and a better record against the top 50 in the RPI
— UNC is 9-14 in those games; BC is 8-20 (and was 5-20 before NC State
snuck into the back of the top 50 this weekend). That is a huge drain on
BC's at-large hopes.
Jim Fletcher (Harlingen, Texas): Aaron:
I've been waiting several weeks for you guys to finally conform with the
other three major polls and place Texas first in your poll. Do you
really think that an ACC-postseason-flop-to-be like Virginia will be
able to handle the mystique of Texas and Augie Garrido in a championship
series, especially considering Texas' pitching and their ability to hit
so many homers? I'll bet Baseball America will soon predict that Texas
will be the number one overall national seed for postseason play,
despite the fact that you guys still have Texas second in your poll.
Texas didn't deserve the number one overall national seed last year, but
I think they deserve it this season — they're significantly better in
all phases of the game. Plus, with Arizona State and Virginia as the
second and third national seeds, Texas would avoid playing one or both
of them in the postseason, since the second and third national seeds
would be on the other side of the bracket. Any comments? Hook 'em
Horns! Jim Fletcher, 1997 UT-Austin alumnus
I do think Texas is the favorite to be the
No. 1 overall seed, and I would call Texas the ever-so-slight favorite
over Virginia for the national title, with Arizona State and Florida not
far behind. But Virginia just keeps on winning, and we were not going
to bump the Cavs out of the No. 1 spot after they won a road series
against a ranked Miami team. That is more impressive than sweeping
Spike (Columbia): Could the SoCon be a
three-bid league? Is it safe to assume both The Citadel and the College
of Charleston are "locks"? What would Elon need to do in the league
tournament to get an at-large bid?
Both those teams are in very good shape,
and I think both would get at-large bids if they don't win the
conference tournament. Elon has some work to do but could probably get
in with two or three wins, because other bubble dwellers have faded
significantly (Texas Tech, Kansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, in
Joe (Columbia, SC): You really feel the need to
drop South Carolina that far, after that hard fought of a series? One
bounce either way and SC is SEC champs. Would Florida have fallen that
far if they would have lost?
South Carolina has lost two of its last
three weekend series, and four series overall. No other team in the top
10 has more than two series losses all season. We obviously still like
the Gamecocks, which is why we left them in the top 10, but you can't
compare them with Florida, which has only lost one series all year. And
South Carolina lost that series at home, too. I think No. 10 is a
perfectly fair spot for those guys; Louisville, Fullerton, UCLA and TCU
are all elite teams also.
Lionel (Nashville): Aaron,
What an exciting time to be an Auburn Tiger! We appear to have all but
guaranteed a spot as a regional host during the NCAA tournament. Could
you briefly layout a scenario (if any exist) where Auburn would be a
Tell me this: what makes South Carolina
such a safer bet to be a national seed than Auburn? The way I see it,
they have very comparable resumes, and the team that does better in the
SEC tournament will have the inside track at the No. 8 national seed.
Think about it: South Carolina finished just one game ahead of Auburn in
the SEC. They're back-to-back in the RPI. Both teams won series at
Arkansas. South Carolina won the head-to-head series against Auburn back
in March, but Auburn finished stronger, winning its last five series
(including at Arkansas and sweeping a series at Ole Miss), while South
Carolina lost two of its last three series (albeit with a great series
sweep of Arkansas stuck in between). And South Carolina has played 14
games against teams outside the top 200 in the RPI, compared to just
five for Auburn. Those teams are right next to each other, in my
Kevin (Brentwood, TN): In Vandy's win over
Arkansas on Thursday, sophomore righty Sonny Gray got back on track and
hit 99 MPH multiple times. Has he worked his way into the conversation
as a top-10 pick in 2011?
He's been in that conversation since he
showed up at Vandy, I think.
Rodney (Austin): You guys finally get it with
Florida State. Never deserved to be ranked as high as you had them.
They kept on winning, and folks, it's hard
to move a team down in the rankings when all it does is win. Even after
getting swept this weekend, FSU is still 39-16 with quality series wins
against Miami and NC State and a 3-1 record against Clemson and six
straight series wins before this weekend. They weren't doing it pretty,
but based on wins and losses against a good schedule, they deserved to
be ranked where they were last week. This week, they deserved to drop —
so they did.
Marc (In Left Field): Any chance Texas and TCU
are NOT matched up in the Supers? It would be a crime for two Top 5-6
teams to be matched up so soon ... Ya'll have Texas at #2 and TCU at #6.
It would be very unfair to both Texas and
TCU... but I bet that's what happens. I hope the committee proves me
OK folks, that's all I've got time for. See
you next week.