College Top 25 Chat: March 5

 Q:  Paul from Los Altos asks:
Stanford not in the rankings after 8 straight and a 10-5 overall record??

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, welcome once again to college Monday. I’m a few minutes
late getting started here, as I polished up Three Strikes over on the
College Blog. I addressed the Cardinal at length in Three Strikes, so I
would refer you there in 10 minutes or so. It’s a nice winning streak
for the Cardinal, but there are plenty of teams with more impressive
resumes for the Top 25 that aren’t currently in the rankings.

 Q:  Brandon from Myrtle Beach, SC asks:
legit do you feel the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are this season? It
appears that they have a fairly underrated corps of weekend-series
starters and bullpen depth that can rival just about any squad. Couple
that with the heads-up, small-ball play that they execute so well and
the power from Raber and Baldridge and it looks like they may be a team
that can contend. What are your thoughts heading into a big mid-week
matchup at Clemson?

Aaron Fitt:
I think your analysis is spot-on. I saw the Chanticleers earlier this
week in Chapel Hill and I came away very impressed. Gary Gilmore’s
teams are always well coached, and this one is no exception. There are
few easy outs in the lineup, and the pitching staff is filled with guys
who know how to locate and work hitters. The starters didn’t have their
best weekend this past weekend, but Coastal proved it can slug its way
to victory when necessary, scoring 32 runs over the final two games
against Marist and West Virginia.

 Q:  Kevin Brown from Los Angeles, CA asks:
what’s the story on the Jackets this year? Can we expect the GT season
to continue this way? Should I call Danny Hall and see if he’ll let me

Aaron Fitt:
He’d take you right now, baggage and all. Starting pitching was the
major question with Georgia Tech heading into the season, and it
continues to be the major question in March. The fact the Yellow
Jackets are 8-6 and have yet to play a ranked team is not a good sign.
They’re just not getting results out of the starting pitchers,
beginning with Chris Hicks, who’s got a 9.82 ERA through four outings.
David Duncan and Ryan Turner have been better, but both of those guys
have ERAs creeping on 5 too. The staff ERA is 5.98, and that includes a
bullpen that was supposed to be a strength. Tech is still going to win
plenty of 12-8 games, but when it comes time to face the cream of the
ACC (North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, Miami), they could be in
trouble, because all of those teams can score, but they can pitch too.
I see Tech losing a lot of games 9-4 once it starts facing those kinds
of teams.

 Q:  Mike from Stoneybrook asks:
does Baseball America have such an affinity for Evansville? When it
comes down to it, there is NO way they will compete with any national

Aaron Fitt:
I’m sure people said the same about Oregon State two years ago. This
Evansville team has upperclassmen all over the field, they have three
seniors pitching well in the rotation now (and freshman Wade Kapteyn,
the best arm on the staff, didn’t even pitch this weekend), they’re
well-coached, they play good defense and they don’t beat themselves.
They don’t have the glitz and glamor of a lot of teams in the power
conferences, but there’s a lot to like there. In case you haven’t
noticed, pitching and defense tend to play up in the postseason, and
the Purple Aces have plenty of both.

 Q:  Jim from Folly Beach, SC asks:
What does GT have to do to drop out of the rankings?

Aaron Fitt:
The Yellow Jackets are on notice right now. I’ll be the first to admit
that I’m entirely unimpressed with their body of work right now and I
was strongly tempted to run them out of the rankings this week, but the
fact is they did go 2-1 this weekend against a decent (if not great)
Rutgers team. When it comes down to it, college baseball is about
winning your weekend series, and Tech did that this weekend for the
third time in four tries.

 Q:  Mitchel from Jacksonville, FL asks:
Why cant Stetson break into the top 25? They’ve had wins against BCC, LSU, Notre Dame, USF what else do they need to do?

Aaron Fitt:
Stetson’s in that group just outside the rankings. If the Hatters had
gotten in that game against Nebraska this weekend instead of postponing
it until today, and if they had won it, they might very well be in the
top 25 right now. I’m very curious to see how that game unfolds… but
right now I’ve got to favor Nebraska, which has Johnny Dorn on the hill
and will be hungry to not go 0-3 on the weekend.

 Q:  Mike from Raleigh, NC asks:
have two questions for you if you wouldn’t mind. First, how good is TCU
closer Sam Demel because he dominated us here at NC State and from what
I can tell he’s doing that to everyone (12 inn 24 k’s)? Next, who’s
stoke has risen the most since the start and who’s has dropped the most
for the June draft? Thanks you and don’t count out the Wolfpack!!

Aaron Fitt:
Demel has always had a legit power arm — he struck out 100 last year
in 93 innings and 100 in 2005 in 95 innings, an indication of his
swing-and-miss stuff. The biggest difference from previous seasons is
his command seems to have taken a step forward. He could very well be
pitching his way close to first-round territory. As for other guys
whose stock as really risen, I’d probably go with Tony Thomas at
Florida State, who has completely transformed himself and is hitting
better than .500 through 17 games. Amazing. Scouts still aren’t
completely sold on him as a pro prospect, but he has at least put
himself on the map. Taking Kyle Drabek deep last week didn’t hurt him,
either. Cole St. Clair’s stock has dropped the most, just because he
was a first-rounder heading into the year and right now nobody knows if
he’ll pitch again this year.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
is fullerton really as good as they showed against stanford, ucla and rice? Do you see them reaching the CWS?

Aaron Fitt:
If I had to revise my Omaha picks today, I’m still not sure that I’d
put Fullerton in there based on talent… but they’re just so well
coached, I just don’t think I can bet against them. It’s amazing how
George Horton and his staff consistently get the most out of their
talent every year, and 2007 might go down as the best coaching job yet
if this keeps up. This was a team that had many questions to answer
entering the year, in the bullpen and in the infield and in the
outfield — really everywhere except No. 1 starter. And somehow, the
Titans have answered just about all of them. There’s still some
uncertainty in the bullpen, but things are starting to materialize with
Adam Jorgenson back there to stabilize things.

 Q:  Christopher from Rock Hill, SC asks:
you guys truly find that Vanderbilt’s sweep of a 1-10 Xavier team was
impressive enough to leap frog a South Carolina team that swept your #2
team in the nation, or did your staff just decide that undefeated is
undefeated and you were correcting a mistake in the rankings? Just
curious. Thx

Aaron Fitt: We did not leapfrog Vandy over South Carolina. Vandy was No. 3 last week and South Carolina was 4, and both moved up one spot.

 Q:  Shane from Nashville asks:
do we start to see the love for Alabama. Your the only poll that does
not have them in the top 30. With a 3 Game set with Nebraska looming
this weekend, and should we take 2 of 3, there is no reason Bama
shouldn’t be ranked.

Aaron Fitt:
Alabama is on the radar because of its 12-2 record, but the Crimson
Tide has played exactly one game against a quality team (Troy) and they
lost it. We typically reward teams that have proven themselves against
better competition early in the season.

 Q:  Bob from Norman asks:
questions…how good is 1) OU after sweeping Riverside, and 2)
Riverside’s Sunday starter who I saw was drafted last year but
returned. He held us down after our offense knocked around a reputable
pitching staff on Friday and Saturday.

Aaron Fitt:
I’m very impressed with the way Oklahoma has come alive after its 2-4
start, and sweeping Riverside was a big statement in my eyes. The
Highlanders have one of the best pitching staffs on the West Coast.
Runzler gave them a hard time on Sunday, but he’s pretty darn good, a
lefty with a power arm. He’s a guy whose draft stock could climb into
the 6-10 round range — no shame in struggling against him. Credit the
Sooners for hanging around and getting the winning run in the ninth.

 Q:  Cornelius from Nashville asks:
has a loss and a 1 run win over a Big Ten team. How is undefeated
Vanderbilt still 2 with their quality wins and undefeated FSU only at
5? And how good a start have the 3 Team USA guys from Vanderbilt
started off?

Aaron Fitt:
We discussed UNC vs. Vanderbilt at length in today’s podcast – check
that out if you’re interested in our deliberations at the top. The long
and short of it is we very nearly moved the Commodores to the top spot,
but it’s hard to punish a team that just went 4-1, with one of those
wins coming against a good coastal carolina team. I’m more impressed
with Vanderbilt’s body of work so far this year — and I’m more
impressed with South Carolina’s too — but we couldn’t run an 11-1 team
out of the top spot. And for what it’s worth, as good as Vandy and
South Carolina are, I still believe UNC has more overall talent than
either and would beat either in a three-game series on a neutral field.

 Q:  Justin from Monterey, CA asks:
Fullerton and Long Beach in the top 25, and Irvine and Riverside just
outside the top 25, what are the chances that the Big West gets more
than 2 teams into the Regionals?

Aaron Fitt:
I have to believe three teams is a very likely possibility, despite the
committee’s traditional disrespect for the Big West. I’d love to see
all four of those teams get in if all four continue to have good
seasons, but I don’t think there’s any way that will happen.

 Q:  Rina from South Carolina asks:
is the #1 team in the nation PERIOD. Your poll will probably be the
only one to have NC ahead of SC.
A loss to an unranked opponent has cost every #1 team its #1 spot this
year except NC. For NC to maintain its #1 spot while SC sweeps a top 3
team proves your arguments against your ACC bias in the past are
futile. Really appears as if you don’t care, but more than anything it
just simply hurts your credibilty.BA is very much aware of the talent
at SC as they are the ones that hve rated SC’s recruiting classes
#1 3 of the last 4 years.Then you have the undeniable facts regarding
play on the field. I’m sure you knew you would get the wrath of SC fans
today, and rightly so, yet you atill put out that joke of a poll.
That’s what I mean about
not seeming to care and credibility. I’m sure you just add up the votes
but it’s your people voting. Can I assume they all live in NC since
that is where you are located What a joke, what a joke, what a joke.
Prejudice is an ugly thing You boys familiar with Frank Mcguire, SC
dropping out of the ACC, et al. Long time ago and different sport, but
same nasty prejudice !!!!!!!!!!!!
SC is the #1 team in the nation,PERIOD.
Stockpiled talent, best coach in the country, and proving it on the
field. Your poll denial will not change the facts. SC is the #1 team in
the nation, PERIOD.

Aaron Fitt: Feel better? OK, good, now take a few deep breaths. We’ll get through this!

 Q:  Ryan from New Orleans, LA asks:
is a team that is coming of age every week. From the season so far, do
you think they can make a run for Omaha or will the bats be the
Achilles’ heel?

Aaron Fitt:
I do worry about the bats, but there’s plenty of pitching to like.
That’s a nice weekend sweep of Wright State, which just went into
Oxford and took a series against Ole Miss last weekend.

 Q:  Ryan from Arizona asks:
had a good weekend! Not a great weekend… How do they jump from NR to
#20. It seems as though certain teams have the ability to move up or
stay the same more than others (i.e.UCLA, Georiga Tech, Miami…etc).
Great programs, true, but .500 records (exception to Miami 9-5) after
15 games doesn’t seem like Top-25 quality. I understand starting
position and RPI, but on the field performance has to prevail over
potential, right?

Aaron Fitt:
It comes down to quality wins. If you just rank all the teams that are
off to hot starts against cream puff schedules, you wind up with a
situation like last year, where Mississippi State was No. 1 because it
was undefeated against a weak slate. Where was Miss State at the end of
the year?

 Q:  Al from Raleigh asks:
that you left UNC at #1 in your polls. Vanderbilt has played a very
competitive schedule (Rice, Arizona State, Baylor) and has no blemishes
on it’s record.South Carolina sweeps the best team in the ACC.
Meanwhile, UNC has played (Stony Brook, Seton Hall, Penn State) who all
still have snow on their diamonds and are outside facing live pitching
for the very fist time.Fox has always had a history of creating a soft
non coference schedule and never going on the road.

Aaron Fitt:
One of the first questions today that has laid out the case against UNC
effectively. You make very valid points, and that’s exactly why we very
nearly put Vandy at No. 1. When I woke up this morning, in fact, I had
Vandy at No. 1 — that’s how close it was for us. Again, I refer you to
the podcast for more information about why we stuck with the Tar Heels.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst asks:
impressive was it that ECU was able to get 5 runs off of Barry Enright,
including a 2 run homer, and 4 runs off of Andrew Brackman, including 2
homeruns? Overall, an excellent baseball weekend in Greenville. How do
you see ECU doing against Fullerton this weekend? I think they will win
1, I am hoping for 2.

Aaron Fitt:
That was a nice performance by the Pirates; I thought they were done
when they fell behind 4-1 against Enright on Friday, and they showed a
lot of character in battling back for the win. I think one win against
the Titans is a reasonable goal, but I wouldn’t expect more than that.
Fullerton is very, very tough.

 Q:  Cory from Hattiesburg asks:
What do you think about Southern Miss? What is it going to take for them to enter the rankings?

Aaron Fitt:
Southern Miss is on our worksheet, in that group of teams just outside
the top 25. This weekend was the first series they’ve had against a
quality team (Louisiana-Lafayette), and they took two out of three.
Whoever won that series was going to find itself close to the rankings,
there just wasn’t quite room to bring the Golden Eagles in.

Aaron Fitt:
By the way, an update to an earlier comment — Nebraska has indeed
beaten Stetson 6-2 behind eight solid innings from Johnny Dorn. I’ll
take a few more questions before we wrap up.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beacdh asks:
Who do you think has the toughest schedule in the land?

Aaron Fitt:
I’ll stick with UCLA, which comes off its “bye week” and travels to
Oxford to face Ole Miss for three games. It just never ends for the

 Q:  james.odom from beaumont texas asks:
about Texas Tech.They beat Cal Sate Northridge 2 out 3 and Cal State
Northridge beat #16 Oklahoma state 2 out of 3.Why are’nt they even
considered for top 25 oe even 30.

Aaron Fitt:
How do you know they weren’t considered? The Red Raiders don’t really
have any true quality wins yet, but I’m still impressed with the way
they’ve rebounded from a 1-3 start, even though ace Miles Morgan is
done for the year. It will be harder for them to get into the rankings
without Morgan though… they need to prove they’ve got enough arms.

 Q:  k mearig from juneau, ak asks:
guys were pretty gentle with ASU despite their first series loss of the
year, so were there some positive things you saw in the Auburn series?
From what I watched and read of the games it seemed like a couple
flukebad plays and coaching misjudgments cost the devils an easy series
win if not a sweep. Will the tough losses be good for ASU like they
were a couple years ago, or is the inconsistency a bad sign?

Aaron Fitt:
Sorry for the delay between questions — just got a call from Pat
Murphy, who reports there was some fishy umpiring down in Auburn this
weekend… to answer your question, it sounds like it was a combination
of fluke defensive plays, questionable calls by the umpires and
Auburn’s resilience that led to Arizona State’s fall this weekend. I
wouldn’t put too much stock in it. And if Jason Jarvis gets ruled
eligible soon, that will help alleviate some of ASU’s pitching

Aaron Fitt: That’s all I have time for today. See you next week.