College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

 Q:  Harry from San Jose, Ca. asks:
off, you do a great job with these chats- I love ’em! What do think
Gonzaga’s chances are of getting an at-large bid if they lose the WCC
playoff to San Diego? To me, the WCC deserves 3 teams. Also, who do you
think will win the series between San Diego and Gonzaga? San Diego had
its hands full all weekend with Santa Clara losing once and winning 2
very close games.

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everybody, welcome to the Top 25 chat. Three Strikes should be
posted on the college blog pretty soon, and it deals some with the
Gonzaga question. My gut right now says that the Zags are in, thanks
largely to weekend series victories against San Diego and at
Pepperdine. The 7-5 record in Weekend Series isn’t very good, however,
and the 33-21 overall record is nothing special. Winning that
championship series at USD is going to be a tall order. The Toreros are
an awfully good team, and they’ll be at home and hungry for revenge
against the only team that beat them in conference this year.

 Q:  John from Tempe, Arizona asks:
you think Matt Spencer from ASU has solidified himself as a potential
1st or 1st supplemental Round type player. He played amazing against
UCLA this weekend with a 9-12 effort and pretty much did it all on
Saturday with 2 HR’s and game winning RBI single as well as pitched.
What about Sogard, Kiel Roling and Tim Smith, where do you think they
will be drafted?

Aaron Fitt:
That’s a huge weekend for Spencer, no doubt, but there’s no way he goes
in the first couple of rounds — the bat has just been too
inconsistent. His tools are very impressive — serious raw power, but
it’s still largely untapped, and he runs well, and he’s got arm
strength. He just needs to put it all together for an extended period
— at times he gets anxious and jumpy at the plate. Sogard is
definitely a top-five-rounds guy, and Roling and Smith have both
improved their stock with solid seasons. There are some questions about
Roling’s catch-and-throw skills, but his bat figures to play even if he
has to move to a corner. Smith has good athleticism and a mature
offensive approach — I think he’ll go pretty well, perhaps a
top-five-rounds type as well.

 Q:  Todd from Columbia, SC asks:
does Clemson need to do after sweeping FSU to host a regional? Will it
depend on what happens with Coastal Carolina now that South Carolina
has wrapped up at least a regional host?

Aaron Fitt:
I think it probably does depend on Coastal — I think the state of
South Carolina is probably unlikely to get three regional sites. South
Carolina is a safe bet, and I think Coastal is more deserving of
hosting than Clemson is, but I think the Chanticleers still need to win
the Big South to do that, and Winthrop is nipping at their heels.
Clemson also needs to finish strong, and that probably means winning
that series at NC State next weekend and making some noise in the ACC
tourney. Winning the FSU series put Clemson back in the hosting
discussion, but a number of things still have to fall into place for it
to happen.

 Q:  Josh from Sacramento asks:
is your take on the Dirtbags? 10-4 on weekend series’ winning their
last 6 series in a row. Playing UC Riverside this weekend with the Big
West title most likely to be decided, but still have Fullerton after
that. A national seed in mind if they do well over their next 7 games
or is that too much to ask?

Aaron Fitt:
You know, I haven’t given much thought to the Dirtbags as a national
seed, but if they win the Riverside series and the Fullerton series,
they’ll probably be worthy of that. The RPI is likely to be a factor in
that discussion, and LBSU’s RPI was No. 9 in last week’s release. That
might give Long Beach an advantage over Arizona State if it comes down
to those two teams competing for the final national seed, but I still
give Arizona State the edge if it holds on to win the Pac-10.

 Q:  James from Rome,WI asks:
have my plane ticket, hotel, rental car, and tickets for Omaha. Who am
I going to see in the 2007 CWS??? (By the way it this will be the 8th
year in a row I have traveled from WI to NE to see the CWS)

Aaron Fitt:
Hm, I haven’t done an updated eight for Omaha in a while, so let’s give
it a whirl: Vanderbilt, Rice, Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona State,
Texas — those are my safe picks. Here are my two sleepers: Clemson, my
preseason national title pick, and Oregon State, my preseason “sleeper”
pick. Both teams will get hot and ride deep pitching staffs to Omaha.
Or maybe I’m clutching at straws…

 Q:  Mike from Austin asks:
the last month, Vandy is 14-5 (accounting for half of their season’s
losses), while an unnamed team behind (right behind) them are 11-1 for
the same stretch against similar levels of competition. I understand
the philosophy of “2-1 is a weekend series win” and “one or two midweek
losses followed by a weekend sweep don’t indicate a struggling team,”
but let’s face it, it’s possible to go 11-1 in the postseason and win
it all. It’s not possible to do the same with 14-5. At what point to
the successive imperfect weeks pile up on a team at the ranking meeting
and y’all finally decide to bump someone from #1?

Aaron Fitt:
Vanderbilt has been the best, most consistent team in the nation this
season. The team that had the best case for passing the Commodores in
the rankings recently, Florida State, finally lost a series this
weekend, but Vandy kept on chugging along. We weren’t about to jump
Rice from No. 4 to No. 1, especially after Vanderbilt won its series.

 Q:  Josh from Alabama asks:
Arkansas losing their second straight weekend series in a row,
shouldn’t they have dropped a little farther than just 2 spots.

Aaron Fitt:
We debated this in the rankings meeting today, but we finally decided
to keep Arkansas ahead of South Carolina because the Hogs still have a
two-game edge in the SEC. Losing two straight weekends isn’t good, but
we cut Arkansas a little bit of slack because it’s been so good all

 Q:  Mark from North Carolina asks:
looking at the records against top 25 teams, one thing stood out to me.
12-10 against the top 25 for Long Beach State. WOW. 22 games against
top 25 and possibly 6 more. 3 against UC Riverside next weekend and
possibly 3 more against Fullerton depending on how they do. Have you
ever seen or remember any teams that have played over half of their
schedule against top 25 teams and even some of their other games
against teams just outside the top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
It is very, very impressive that Long Beach State has played such a
tough schedule and has weathered it so admirably. However, do keep in
mind that Beach’s recent hot streak has come against Oral Roberts, Cal
State Northridge, UC Davis, Pacific, Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
That is not the strongest part of its schedule. I’m very curious to see
how the Dirtbags finish against two tough opponents in Riverside and
Fullerton, the latter of which already took a series from LBSU in
non-conference play this year.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
LaPorta’s impressive campaign this year, juxtaposed by his history of
injuries, which team would you anticipate drafting him if today were
June 7th?

Aaron Fitt: I’m going to say either Mariners at 11 or Blue Jays at 16.

 Q:  st.john’sfan from queens, ny asks:
St. John’s jumping into your Top 25 with another series win this week,
what are the chances of the Storm taking a 2 seed? Also, with their
high-scoring offense, solid starting pitching and lights-out bullpen,
is there any hope of a CWS surprise?

Aaron Fitt:
I think St. John’s will be a 2 seed if it can win the Big East. That’s
a good club, perhaps capable of making a run to a super-regional. I
don’t see it as a surprise Omaha team, but you never know.

 Q:  Nathan from Houston, TX asks:
is the rational behind having UC Irvine so far ahead of Long Beach
State in the rankings. The Dirtbags are ahead of them in conference,
and have played a tougher schedule. Yes, I know that Irvine took the
series against the dirtbags. Do you see more potential in Irvine
regardless of how well the Dirtbags have been playing or have the
Dirtbags just been playing Dirtbag baseball and over achieving?

Aaron Fitt:
Irvine took the head-to-head series from Long Beach and another from
Fullerton. Fullerton took the first head-to-head from Long Beach. Since
then, the Dirtbags have padded their record against the softer part of
their schedule, though I give them credit for beating a decent Cal Poly
team. I know LBSU has the better conference mark, but I wouldn’t be
shocked if UC Irvine ends up finishing ahead in the conference. I also
do like Irvine’s talent level better. All the more reason Mike Weathers
probably deserves national coach of the year honors this season — that
is a quintessential Dirtbag team that plays above its talent. They’re
very tough, there is no doubt, and they never quit.

 Q:  Josh Mitchell from Lumberton Texas asks:
Is FSU in trouble with there pitching? Will they get a top 8 seed?

Aaron Fitt:
I do think FSU will get a national seed, but I am also a bit worried
about the pitching. I like Danny Rosen in the rotation, but I wonder if
the bullpen will be OK without him. The jury is still out on the 2007
version of Luke Tucker…

 Q:  Bob from Houston asks:
would it take for Rice to grab the #1 overall seed? If they win out and
win the conference tournament, can they overtake Vandy?

Aaron Fitt:
Definitely. The Owls have already taken over No. 1 in the RPI, and if
Vandy slips up next weekend or in the SEC tournament, Rice is an easy
choice as the No. 1 overall seed. If Vandy wins next weekend and wins
the SEC tourney, I don’t think you can give the nod to Rice.

 Q:  Dan from San Diego asks:
2 of 3 from Wichita State at hostile Eck Stadium in Wichita doesn’t
propel Cal State Fullerton back into the top 25, will a sweep of Cal
Poly next weekend get them there? This is awfully reminiscent of the
2004 Titans that ran the table late in the season……

Aaron Fitt:
Winning that series at Wichita was impressive and put Fullerton back in
the discussion, but remember, the Titans had lost back-to-back series
and five out of six games overall before last week.

 Q:  Ken from Portland asks:
can Gonzaga be possibly considered as an at-large over any Big West
team? Gonzaga is a great story this year, but do they really deserve at
larges over Fullerton or Riverside (who took 2 of 3 from Gonzaga)?
Aaron, my main concern is why the West seems to only get an allotted
number of bids. If Gonzaga were to get consideration, why couldn’t it
be stealing a bid from the MVC or Big East? The West deserves to have
atleast 12 teams this year.

Aaron Fitt: I think four from the Pac-10, four from the Big West and three from the WCC is reasonable.

 Q:  Bob from Houston asks:
Rice and Texas all but assured a top 8 national seed, do you see Texas
A&M in a position to get a regional bid, or is that too many Texas
regional sites?

Aaron Fitt:
I do think there will be another Texas site, between either Texas
A&M or Texas Christian. Missouri could wind up as a host, which
would make TCU more likely to host than A&M, a third team out of
the Big 12.

 Q:  Marc from Austin asks:
Give me the two teams that you think will square up in the CWS Final … no skirting the question.

Give us a straight shot.


Aaron Fitt:
A good no-nonsense question to end on. I honestly believe that Rice and
Vanderbilt are the two best teams in the country, so those are the two
I’ll take. See you next week . . .