College Chat: May 30
Hi everybody. I'm going to have to keep this tight — still have a ton of regional previews to write. Let's get to it.
Tyler (Oxford): Who would host the super regional if Ole Miss won the Texas A&M Regional, and San Diego won the UCLA regional?
Ole Miss. San Diego cannot host on campus
(and just broke ground on a new stadium to open next year where its
current stadium sits). So there is still hope for some baseball in
Oxford this month.
Ray (Tulsa): Which 4 seeds (if any) do you think could make the championship game of their regional?
I'd rank them like this, starting with the
team I think has the best chance: Stony Brook, Austin Peay State, Oral
Roberts, Creighton, Fresno State.
Brad (Pittsburgh): Can Coastal Carolina do damage in Columbia without Conway How far do you see them going in regionals
I think they can, because those two
submariners—Aaron Burke and Ryan Connolly—can really give hitters fits.
Coastal's starting pitching isn't great, but the Chanticleers only
needed their starters to go a few innings in the conference tournament,
because their submariners took it from there. Obviously, Coastal has a
better chance in this regional if Tyler Herb can go deeper into a
ballgame, but I really think Burke and Connolly will determine how far
the Chants go. I don't think this is one of Coastal's best teams, but
those two guys make it dangerous regardless. I also like that they have
two quality veterans loaded with postseason experience anchoring the
middle of the lineup: Daniel Bowman and hard-hittin' Rich Witten.
Chris (California): Hey Aaron, I'm really looking forward to the Fullerton Oregon match up in Eugene. How do these ball clubs match up?
I think they are mirror images of each
other: exceedingly scrappy, well-coached teams that don't have much
firepower in the lineup or power arms on the mound. I don't particularly
trust either team's starting rotation after its No. 1 guy, but I like
that Fullerton pounds the strike zone better than anybody in college
baseball, which will limit Oregon's ability to manufacture runs via the
walk and HBP. I also could see Indiana State or Austin Peay winning this
regional—those are both very balanced clubs, and don't forget that APSU
was in a regional final last year. That's a very veteran lineup with
more thump than any other team in this regional, but this ballpark won't
play into their strengths very well, because it is designed to suppress
offense. And Indiana State could win that opener against the Titans
behind Dakota Bacus, who is similar to Floro and Kuedell but actually
has a bit more velocity (he'll bump 92 or 93). I think that is one of
the most wide-open regionals, along with Coral Gables and Gary.
Jonathan (Arkansas): Pretty simple
Any surprises coming out of Regionals & the Supers and
Who wins it all?
Cant believe season is almost over - Seems like it just started
Trying to get me to give away my picks
before the podcasts, huh? I won't do it! You'll have to sit through all
two hours of John and I prattling on if you want to get our picks...
Jon (Indiana): As a Purdue fan & college
baseball fan I have to agree UK got the short end, with their entire
season success. With that said, I feel by UK getting snubbed, so does
Purdue. UK should not be in our region and makes me nervous. They are a
legit SEC team and to be honest play a much higher level of
competition. We are good, very good but is UK the favorite here? Also,
thoughts on the situation and our regional?
I'm sure a lot of people will be picking
Kentucky, and I could certainly see Kentucky playing with a chip on its
shoulder and making it all the way to Omaha, like Virginia did when it
was sent to UC Irvine in 2009 or Florida State did when it was sent to
Norwich in 2010. However... I think David Starn can beat Kentucky in
that opener. And if this regional comes down to Kentucky and Purdue, I
think the Boilermakers match up well against UK because most (not all)
of their key bats are righthanded, not lefthanded (and all of Kentucky's
starting pitchers are lefties). I think Purdue is a very good, complete
team. I'm not in love with its pitching, but I think it's good enough
to make a deep run in conjunction with that lineup. Of course, John
Manuel picked Kent State to win that regional (spoiler alert!), and I
could see that happening also... Kent State is a very experienced,
talented, dangerous No. 3 seed.
Robert (Houston, TX): Which regional host has the biggest chance of getting upset this weekend?
Miami. I could see any one of those four teams winning that regional—but I see UCF as the favorite, rather than the Hurricanes.
Adam (Starkville): Who is your pick to win the Florida St regional? Is Chris Stratton the best pitcher in the regional? HAIL STATE!!!
Stratton is definitely the best pitcher in
that regional. He was the SEC pitcher of the year and will be a
first-round pick next week. But I think MSU had better throw him in that
first game to make sure it beats Josh Martin and Samford, which gives
Florida State the inside track at winning this regional, I think.
Mississippi State has far and away the best pitching in this regional,
and I certainly think those guys have a chance to win it. But ultimately
I do think FSU is the better overall team, and it has the advantages of
being at home (in a park that basically plays as the polar opposite of
Dudy Noble) and probably not having to face Stratton. FSU might choose
to throw ace Brandon Leibrandt in its opener against a frisky UAB team,
but there isn't much separation between Leibrandt and Mike Compton,
James (Ann Arbor): Michigan Job ? Any idea, suggestions, thoughts? I noticed there wasn't a write up about it in coaching carousel.
There is a write-up on the college blog, in
which I speculated about some replacement candidates. I know I'd go
after Scott Stricklin of Kent State if I was in charge at Michigan.
Mark (Mid City (New Orleans)): Will you please do a bracket challenge this year?
I wish we would, but I am told it's just
not happening this year. Sorry... We've had plenty of people ask about
it, so maybe your voices will help bring it back next year!
Ross (Raleigh, NC): Any chance there will ever
be more of a S-curve format in future tournament selections. Being a
Canes fan, it'll be different to see them not sent to Gainesville in any
way, but at the same time how does the committee come to pairing a team
such as NCSU with UF potentially in a super-regional. I don't think
anyone would view them as the weakest 1-seed.
I know what you mean — that one was
particularly baffling since they could have just paired Charlottesville
with Tallahassee and Raleigh with Columbia, which would have made more
sense from a competitive balance standpoint and a geographic standpoint.
Jason (Minnesota): Aaron,
Is there any chance Vandy's two assistants will leave for other jobs
this offseason or will this staff remain intact for next year?
We talked about this in the podcast we
recorded today (which will be posted shortly) — this really could be
the last hurrah for this coaching staff, because DJ and Holliday figure
to be hot names on the coaching market this summer.
Russell (Austin, Texas): After the dismal season the Longhorns had, what changes do you think they need to make?
I don't think they NEED to make any
changes. They were in Omaha just last year, for goodness sake, and in
the national title round in 2009. They brought in a great recruiting
class this past season, but they had a couple of bad breaks (not getting
Hinojosa in early, losing French and Jacquez), and they just didn't
have a very good season — it happens. That said, I don't think that
staff will be intact next year, because there is a sense around college
baseball that one of those assistants is likely to leave for another,
Thomas (Nebraska): I know that clemson has
struggled this year, but do you think they could potentially be a
sleeper for Omaha like missisippi state?
I don't think Clemson has the horses on the
mound that Mississippi State has. This strikes me as a very ordinary
Clemson team, but they do play hard and never give up, so that gives
them a chance. I like the athleticism and the defense (Thomas Brittle,
Jason Stolz and Spencer Kieboom really make them strong up the middle).
But I don't see them winning that regional against a South Carolina team
that I just think is better.
Jason (Irmo, SC): Aaron, I've got to ask, who do you have making it out of the South Carolina regional and who is your sleeper for Omaha?
I've got the Gamecocks coming out of that
regional and getting back to Omaha. As for a sleeper — let's qualify
this as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed that could get to Omaha (though not
necessarily a team I am picking to get to Omaha). I like John's Kent
State pick, and I think Ole Miss has a lot more upside than your typical
No. 3 seed if that lineup can get hot. I also could see Louisville
getting to Omaha with all of those quality arms, though I think I'm
picking Arizona to win that regional.
jason (NC): What Friday games have the most
potential to provide a 4 over 1 upset or a 3 over 2 upset? Missouri St
and Missouri come to mind.
With Petree and Pierce Johnson, Missouri
State could easily start off 2-0 in that regional. I think Stony Brook
has a great chance to beat Miami with Tyler Johnson on the mound, and a
lineup that I think is just plain better than Miami's. I think Ty Blach
is a tough matchup for all those lefties in UCLA's lineup. I could see
Zach Toney and that physical, mature Austin Peay lineup upsetting
Oregon. And I think Baylor had better not get cute against Drew Bowen
and Oral Roberts. That ORU team has the arms (especially Bowen, Alex
Gonzalez and Kurt Giller, who all have power stuff) and the thump in the
middle of the lineup to potentially win that regional... I'm picking
Baylor, but I won't be shocked if the Golden Eagles pull off the big
TA (SC): out of Miss St, Vandy, and Arky which SEC 2 seed do you see having the most potential to advance to the Supers?
All three could certainly win regionals—but
I'm actually not picking any of the three. I think the fact that NC
State drew a softer No. 4 seed and can comfortably save Carlos Rodon for a
potential winner's bracket game against Vandy gives the 'Pack a big
advantage in that regional. The same goes for Mississippi State likely
having to use Stratton in its opener — that sets things up nicely for
FSU. Arkansas will go with D.J. Baxendale in its opener, which means
Ryne Stanek would pitch a potential winner's bracket game against Rice.
Stanek is the key for Arkansas — he's obviously got the talent to beat
anybody but he was banged up down the stretch and just hasn't really had
a great outing since mid-April. He's one of the biggest X-factors in
Phil (VA): As a Cavs fan...should I be scared of Army and Chris Rowley?
I think you should be — he's darn good.
He's got amazing life on his sinker and gets ground ball after ground
ball. He also has a solid slider and a very good changeup, and he fields
his position very well, which is an underrated attribute. Army could
definitely win that game. Either way, I see Oklahoma winning that
Rene (Renny) (Slidell, Louisiana): I see Mississippi State upsetting home team Florida State for the regional- yes? crazy?
Been to the Box, Aaron?? Home field at it's best, chances LSU in World Series?
Love your chats
Certainly not crazy — Mississippi State
could definitely go in there and win that regional, even though I'm
picking the Seminoles. (Guess I was lying when I said I wasn't going to
give away my picks today!) And yes, LSU has an amazing home-field
advantage. I love LSU's chances to get to Omaha.
David (Columbia, SC): Aaron, Thanks for all the
great reading you provided again this year... Now my favorite time of
year, Omaha time. Out of the SEC who do you see as the most likely to
reach Omaha and will do you see my Gators advancing to the Championship
series and bringing home the their first baseball NC?
Thanks for the kind words, David. I see at
least three SEC teams in Omaha, and maybe four (Kentucky is something of
a wild card — could see that team making a deep run, or falling flat,
because the Wildcats really haven't swung the bats as well down the
stretch as they did in the first half). But yes, I see Florida back in
Omaha, and I'm going to stick with the Gators as my national champion
Tom (Fairfield, CT): Realistically, what are
the chances Pepperdine makes some noise in the tournament? Do they stack
up well in their regional or at least well enough to advance?
Great matchup in the opener between Jon
Moscot and Tony Bucciferro — could see that one going either way. Scott
Frazier is one of those X-factor guys like Stanek — if he has his best
stuff and command, he could beat Stanford, but he also gave up eight
runs in his last start against USD. I think Stanford wins this regional
handily, but Pepperdine will be competitive.
Ray (Pearl, MS): Is it true that Ron Polk is at
UAB? I sure hope Coach Cohens has got my dawgs ready to face Sanford
cuz I don't want any of Polk. Y'all really thinking State can get to
Omaha? Thanks for the chattin and GO DAWGS!!
Indeed, coach Polk is a volunteer assistant
at UAB — yet another intriguing storyline in this tournament. That is
an extremely compelling regional.
Scott (So Cal): I find the Los Angeles Regional
pretty intriging. Obviously, UCLA is the favorite to come out of it
but there's also USD, who is reeling a bit after a tough series loss for
the conference championship against Pepperdine. However, they do have
40+ wins and have been ranked in the top 25 the majority of the year.
There's UNM and their offense can keep up with just about anyone in the
nation. Do you see any of these 2 teams giving the Bruins a run for
That's the regional I will attend this
week, and I am also intrigued by hit. UCLA, USD and UNM are all really
good offensive teams, so there could be some fireworks this weekend. The
Lobos have played a lot better down the stretch than the Toreros, so I
see New Mexico as the biggest threat to UCLA to win this regional —
although if Ty Blach and Creighton wins that opener, maybe UNM becomes
Will (Dallas): Aaron-
You were sure wrong about your prediction on Baylor this year having not
even suggested them as a national seed as late as May 17th? This team
deserves some credit for an unbelievable record setting season in
winning 18 straight Big 12 games!! I think the selection committee
showed the Bears respect by putting TCU in Texas A&M bracked. Your
thoughts on the Bears now?
Not sure what you're talking about with
your preface — if you go back and read my Stock Reports, I've had
Baylor as a national seed since the first Stock Report of the season in
Week 9, and they've been in the SECURE national seed category since Week
10. Admittedly, it took me the first half of the season to come around
on Baylor as the favorite in the Big 12 (I confess that I called Texas
A&M an "overwhelming" favorite to win that league early on —
oops!). Baylor is a very good, complete club, certainly capable of
getting to Omaha.
Bill L (Bozeman, MT): Do you see any really
young teams in the field that may not have much of a chance this year
but that stand to gain valuable experience for runs toward Omaha in the
I'll throw Oregon State out there. I do
think the Beavers have a chance, but I don't see them going into Baton
Rouge and winning that regional. But it will be great experience for
that fantastic freshman class, and the Beavers figure to head into next
season as a preseason top 10 team and a legit Omaha contender.
David (Salem): Can you explan why the committe
viewed Oregon and Oregon State so differently? Conference records are
very similiar but OSU beat Oregon 4 out 5 times but Oregon is ranked 5th
overall and Oregon State is sent to play LSU as a #2 seed.
Beaver fans are in an uproar about this,
and I understand why, but let me explain the difference between these
two clubs: first, Oregon is No. 6 in the RPI, and Oregon State is No.
27. There's a reason for that gap: Oregon played a stronger
nonconference schedule and also posted a better record against teams in
the top 25 of the RPI (the Ducks were 13-7, the Beavers were 9-8). OSU
won three series against the top teams in the Pac-12 (vs. Oregon, UCLA
and Stanford), but all three of those series were at home, and the
Beavers also went 1-5 against Arizona and ASU. Oregon won all four of
its series against those teams (sweeping Arizona State at home and
taking two of three against UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State all on the
road). It's just a stronger overall body of work for the Ducks, despite
the head-to-head factor.
Garrett gore (Wilmington nc): Who is going to be your organ st/Fresno st (sleeper) this year?
Let's wrap up with a question from the
all-time leader in College World Series games played! I don't think I
see a No. 3 or No. 4 seed capable of doing what the 07 Beavers or 08
Bulldogs did, but I think Stony Brook could win its regional as a No. 4,
and as I mentioned before, I think Kent State could conceivably get all
the way to Omaha as a No. 3. Garrett, I know you believe the Seahawks
of UNCW are dangerous, and you're right — that's a good, balanced team
with speed, power and a lot of pitching depth. But Raleigh is a very
difficult draw, I think — Vanderbilt is just so hot, and NC State is
really talented. That's going to be a great regional, I think.
OK everybody, that's all I've got time for
— thanks for all the great questions! It's June Madness — the best
time of the year! Enjoy the action.