NCAA Tournament Chat With Aaron Fitt

Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
Aaron, love the chats. How about the potential Riverside–ASU matchup?
Does the pitching of UCR or the hitting of ASU win out? Also, what are
the chances of Austin Peay upsetting VU? Is Cody Crowell starting that
one? Thanks, keep up the great work.

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, and welcome to a post-selection day chat. That
potential UCR-ASU matchup is very compelling, but I think you’ve got to
give the edge to the Sun Devils, especially playing at home, where they
hit so well. That offense is so good, I’m not sure if there’s any
pitching in the country that can shut it down. As for Austin Peay, I
think there’s a good chance they could see Crowell — that would make
some sense to me from Vandy’s perspective. Austin Peay is a good club
that beat Mississippi State twice down the stretch, but it would be
truly shocking if Vanderbilt lost its NCAA tournament opener.

 Q:  Warren from Oxford, MS asks:
Who is the biggest threat to Vandy?

Aaron Fitt:
I really think that Virginia could give the Commodores a run in the
super-regionals because the Cavaliers can just about match Vandy arm
for arm. Just imagine a David Price-Jacob Thompson pitching duel —
wow. If Oregon State emerges from the Charlottesville regional, I think
the Beavers could give Vandy a run as well, just because of their
experience on the big stage. And Arizona State and Texas both have good
enough offenses that either could slug its way past the ‘Dores in Omaha.

 Q:  Steve from Columbia, SC asks:
Did the NCAA place Wofford and Western Carolina in the same bracket initially? Or did ESPN just make a minor mistake?

Aaron Fitt:
The committee screwed up and didn’t realize its error until watching
the selections announced on ESPN. That would have been a minor mistake
for ESPN, but it’s a major mistake for the committee. There’s really no
excuse for that happening. I know filling out the field of 64 is
difficult, but whenever I’m doing a regional projection, I always make
sure there aren’t two teams from the same conference in the same
regional — it’s a simple matter of checking your work. You have to
wonder just a bit about the committee’s diligence and competence when
it lets something like that slip through. Fortunately it was easily
remedied, as Wofford and Jacksonville were just swapped for each other.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
For you, what’s the most likely upset or sleeper? Can Miami get to the super-regionals? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt:
I think Miami’s an excellent sleeper choice — it’s almost a carbon
copy of last year for the Hurricanes. Fourth-seeded Kent State is
capable of shutting down Missouri thanks to the power arm of Chris
Carpenter. If that happens, it would pave the way for Miami. And I like
Pepperdine as a 3 seed, and UC Irvine could give Texas a run. That’s a
tough regional.

 Q:  Lauri from McKinney, Texas asks:
What do you think about the TCU Horned Frogs NCAA Regional draw?

Aaron Fitt:
Baylor has really come on strong in the second half as its young
players have begun to mature, but you’ve got to give TCU the edge if
Arrieta can keep pitching well. Rice is very good, but the Horned Frogs
might have more healthy arms right now — a lot depends on Ryne
Tacker’s status for the Owls. I think TCU has a real good chance. That
is a very tough regional though — don’t sleep on Prairie View, one of
the more dangerous No. 4 seeds in the tournament, thanks to its speed.

 Q:  Jacob from Myrtle Beach, SC asks:
do you feel about Coastal Carolina not receiving a national seed? Do
you believe they should of gotton one? Also, do you believe that they
are facing a tough regional compared to others?

Aaron Fitt:
If I were deciding the national seeds, I would have given the nod to
Coastal over Arkansas, but I do think choosing the Razorbacks is very
defensible. The Myrtle Beach regional looks daunting. Clemson’s
pitching staff is so deep, St. John’s is very balanced, and VCU is a
strong No. 4.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
at the College Station and Austin regionals, they look kind of weak. I
like A&M and Texas to come out of those. What are your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt:
I disagree on the Austin regional — the lone regional with two teams
ranked in the BA top 10. Brown’s got more firepower than you’d expect
from an Ivy League team, too. I do think the College Station regional
is a little weak, but Le Moyne isn’t a bad 4 seed. The MAAC teams are
typically tough in regionals, as we saw last year with Manhattan
beating Nebraska, and Bobby Blevins could give A&M a run.

 Q:  Cal from Winnsboro, SC asks:
Love your chats……. In your opinion, did Tennessee Alabama get screwed? They are certainly better than Memphis…..

Also, what are your feelings on a CAROLINA vs North Carolina matchup in the Supers?

thanks a lot………


Aaron Fitt:
I don’t know that Tennesse and Alabama got “screwed,” as you put it,
but I do think it’s hard to defend Memphis and Troy over either of
them. I think Gonzaga and Georgia Tech got jobbed more than either of
the SEC teams, though. As for a potential South Carolina-North Carolina
super-regional, I would have consider the Tar Heels the favorite,
because they’ve got just as much offensive firepower and more reliable
pitching. This won’t be a repeat of the early part of the decade when
UNC couldn’t get past the Gamecocks in supers… remember, those
meetings were in Columbia.

 Q:  Max from Florida asks:
Who do you think will be at the top of the brackets next season?

Aaron Fitt:
Fun question. Teams like San Diego, Virginia, Arizona State, Vanderbilt
and South Carolina all have sophomore stars… I’ll go with the Sun

 Q:  Eric from Huntington beach asks:
Why would the Ncaa put every west team on the left side of the bracket?
I think it should be spread evenly like the NCAAA B ball tournament.
That way it gives every team and even shot to make it to the world Series.

Aaron Fitt:
As I wrote yesterday, it would have been very easy to avoid this
problem. They should have just made San Diego the 7 seed and Arkansas
the 8. Then you could move the USD and Long Beach regionals to the
right side of the bracket, and the Arkansas and Missouri regionals
could slide to the left. Then you’d have a nice pocket of West Coast
teams on each side of the brackets.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst asks:
Carolina had a nice run in the CUSA tourney, did better than I
expected. How do you see them doing in the Chapel Hill Regional? They
have beaten Western Carolina earlier this year but has struggled twice
against UNC-CH’s pitching in mid week games. Assuming ECU can get past
WCU, I would think ECU has a little bit better odds this go around
against UNC-CH since ECU will use there standard weekend pitching.
(Granted UNC-CH will use theirs as well.)

Aaron Fitt:
ECU’s a good club, and I have yet to see the Pirates lose in person
this year (and I’ve seen them about five or six times). But I would
really be surprised if UNC doesn’t win that regional. The Tar Heels are
peaking at the perfect time, and their mix of offensive artillery and
power arms might be unrivaled by any team in the nation, including

 Q:  Jim from Houston asks:
seems as though the Committee does a very uneven job of seeding 2nd and
3rds across the regions. For example, using Boyd’s Worlds latest RPIs,
the average RPIs for the Texas region for 1st to 3rd seeds (I discount
4th seeds as most are automatic bids with very low RPIs) was 17.7
(Texas 3, Irvine 28, Wake 22)and the Rice region was 18 (Rice 1, TCU
30, and Baylor 23) compared to Vandy with 33.7 (Michigan 46 and Memphis
50) and Arkansas with 34 (Creighton 33 and OSU 53). I realize part of
this is due to regional teams and the locales. However, it is fairly
ridiculous to stack the at large bids in certain regions — teams will
and do have to travel. It gets worse for Rice if they win out to a
super regional where they could face A&M with a RPI of 9. It would
seem that if your team earns a national seed then at least the super
region should be matched according to the RPIs or some designation used
by the committee to rank from 1 to 64. Any thoughts?

Aaron Fitt:
I think you raise a fair point, but I would caution against putting too
much stock in the RPI. Texas A&M has a high RPI, but I would
consider the Aggies one of the lowest No. 1 seeds because of their
conference record and standings. And Creighton’s RPI doesn’t knock
anyone’s socks off, but the Bluejays are a strong No. 2 seed — just
ask Wichita State. The RPI is a tool, but it’s certainly not the
be-all, end-all. To me, the greatest inequity is punishing Texas by
sending the ninth-ranked team in the nation to its regional. That
doesn’t reward Texas or UC Irvine for their fine seasons. And you’re
right, Vandy’s regional is on the soft side.

 Q:  Sean from Minneapolis asks:
do you see San Diego doing? Clearly they have talent, but this will be
their first time ever hosting a regional. Can they make it to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt:
I could see USD getting to Omaha, but this regional could be tricky.
Fresno State is a very strong No. 4, I think, and if the Toreros try to
throw Couch in the first game to save Matusz and Romanski for the next
two, they could get burned. If they get to a super-regional, you have
to like their chances with that one-two punch, not to mention a solid
offense and good defense.

 Q:  Jeramey from Atlanta asks:
they can get by a tough Coastal team, how pretty is Clemsons road to
Omaha? The only team to beat Florida State at home in a series? What
are your thoughts on this?

Aaron Fitt:
Clemson does seem to have FSU’s number this year, but not many other
teams do. I think it would be a mistake to overlook the Seminoles — a
ClemsonFlorida State rematch would be very compelling.

 Q:  Ryan from Katy,TX asks:
bats have come alive during the CUSA tourny, but they were in a similar
position last year with a better overall offense in my opinion. Do you
see them struggling for offense like they did last year?

Aaron Fitt:
Those Rice hitters are a year older and wiser — they’ll listen to
Wayne Graham when he says to hit the ball to the opposite field, and
they won’t go silent at the worst possible moment this year. I’m more
concerned about Rice’s pitching than its bats, because that offense has
really come alive. Good to see Aaron Luna coming on so strong down the

 Q:  Robert from Traverse City Michigan asks:

Aaron Fitt:
If the Wolverines tries to get cute and save Zach Putnam for
Vanderbilt, Memphis could beat them around in that first game, because
the Tigers can really hit. That could be a high-scoring affair. I like
Michigan’s talent, but I’m concerned about the way that team has played
down the stretch. Vanderbilt’s an overwhelming favorite.

 Q:  eric from houston, tx asks:
How far do you see Arizona State Advancing in the tourney?

Aaron Fitt: At least to Omaha.

 Q:  Greg from Charleston,SC asks:
was wondering if you can think of any logical explanation to why
Coastal was not a national seed over Arkansas or San Diego? Compared to
Arkansas, Coastal has a better winning percentage against the RPI top
10, the same winning percentage against the top 50, and a much better
percentage against the top 100. Arkansas did make a tourney run but
still went 5-5 in the last ten games. All this to go along with a much
better RPI has me puzzled. Just as good as an argument can be made for
Coastal over San Diego. Any explanation would help. Thanks for your

Aaron Fitt:
The (flawed, in my opinion) explanation that Larry Templeton gave us
yesterday was that Arkansas proved itself by winning the SEC West and
reaching the SEC title game.

 Q:  Adam from Hayward, California asks:
UC Berkeley’s Golden Bears have been close to a regional bid on and off
for the past several years. What will it take for them to grab the
brass ring in ’08?

Aaron Fitt:
Cal just needs to help itself. The Bears were right back into the
regional discussion after taking that series from Arizona State, but
then they shot themselves in the foot by losing two of their final
three series against UCLA and (the killer) Washington.

 Q:  SoCal Brett from Orange, Ca asks:
is Long Beach State a regional host? They finished 3rd in the Big West
and lost 4 out of their last 6 games. Its good to see Irvine isnt in a
West Coast regional but why are they in a regional with a national
seed. I just figured that they wouldnt have to face a team like Texas
until a super. Why did this work out like this?

Aaron Fitt:
Long Beach State was rewarded for its grueling early nonconference
schedule and its strong RPI. I think UC Irvine was more deserving of a
host site, but the Dirtbags did have an awfully nice year, and you can
certainly make a case for them hosting. Irvine heading to Texas, on the
other hand, just seems harsh.

 Q:  from asks:
Texas and Wichita State end up playing each other in a super regional,
could Gene Stephenson vs. Auggie Garrido be considered one of, if not
THE best coaching matchup all year?

Aaron Fitt:
I can’t think of a better one, although I do like the Wayne
Graham-George Horton matchup we had earlier this year, and Mike
Martin-Jim Morris is always a good one.

 Q:  Mike from Oceanside, CA asks:
does San Diego, a national seed, draw Fresno State as the 4th seed, and
a team like Long Beach, who is a good team also, I am not doubting
that, get Illinois-Chicago as their 4th seed?

Aaron Fitt:
That doesn’t make sense to me; seems UIC should have gone to San Diego
and Fresno to Long Beach. Of course, Long Beach’s regional is stacked
as it is, with UCLA and Pepperdine there.

 Q:  Bob Smith from Edison, NJ asks:
the College hardball chats!
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have been on a roll. What kind of chance do
you give them to win at the Virginia regional? How about the other 2
Big East teams, Louiseville & St John’s?

Aaron Fitt:
I think that’s one of the worst places a home run-hitting team like
Rutgers could have ended up, because that ballpark suppresses offense,
and so do Virginia and Oregon State. Louisville is an interesting 3
seed because of its experience — the Cardinals have about 12 seniors.
St. John’s is an interesting sleeper — Barnes can go toe to toe with
Moskos, and the Johnnies don’t match up bad with Coastal.

 Q:  Jon from Houston asks:
Which site is the toughest and how does the Houston one compare?

Aaron Fitt:
I think Houston might be the toughest of all, but Round Rock,
Fayetteville and Long Beach are in the discussion too, for me. Also
Columbia, Mo.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all I’ve got time for
today, everyone. Check back in later this week for complete regional
capsules and a special regional-preview podcast. And I’ll be blogging
from Myrtle Beach this weekend. Enjoy the games!