2019 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (5/20/19)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. We've got a lot going on. Four teams - Army, Florida A&M, Harvard and Southern - have punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament already and conference tournaments get underway in earnest this week. So let's get to your questions.
Al (Greenville, NC):
- What are the chances that UNC winds up in the Greenville regional with ECU? Also, what’s the word on Mike Bianco’s seat heating up? Is this warranted, or just disgruntled fans?
Teddy Cahill: There's a decent chance, but I've been giving ECU an ACC three seed like Duke or Clemson or Virginia recently. I think UNC will be near the top of the two seeds and last year, the first year the committee seeded 1-16, it seemed like they made more of an effort to put the high-end No. 2 seeds (Auburn and UConn) with the lowest seeded hosts. Now, will the geography work out for that to happen for UNC? We'll see. Someone will likely have to go west as a No. 2. We've all grown used to UNC and Oregon State showdowns in Omaha, maybe we can get one in regionals. But Greenville is a very real possibility, of course. As for Bianco, no to both your questions.
- Looks like WVU is right on the bubble for a regional host. How many do they need to win at conference tournament to likely get the host spot?
Teddy Cahill: I feel like West Virginia needs to play for the Big 12 title. It may be able to get away with a little less than that if, say, NC State went 0-2 in Durham, but that 13-11 Big 12 record is not exciting, nor is the 7-9 top 50 record. West Virginia is very much not operating in a vacuum here, so winning as much as possible is advised.
Pat Shell (Atlanta):
- How important do you think conference tournament results are in national seeding?
Teddy Cahill: For the teams on the bubble they matter. But usually they can help you more than they can hurt you in that case. Like, it would be easier for Georgia Tech to play its way in (or solidify) with a big week in Durham than it would be for one of the top-four SEC seeds to really ding itself with an 0-2 week in Hoover. But they definitely can have an impact. Clemson and Florida State two of the last three years locked up top-eight overall seeds with ACC Tournament titles.
- I know you will get tons of FSU questions today!!! What do they have to do this week to make sure they get in?
Teddy Cahill: Personally, I think Florida State is in. 17 ACC wins, a sixth place finish in the conference and 35 wins overall should do it, especially with a bubble this soft. Like, we're looking at having multiple teams with losing conference records in the NCAA Tournament. I struggle with the idea that they would get in over 17-13 Florida State when the committee just made as big a deal out of conference record as it did a year ago. But if you're not yet convinced, one win in Durham ought to do it.
- Do the beavers still have a shot at hosting a regional? What are your thoughts on their ability to make it to Omaha given their level of play these past few weeks? Thank you
Teddy Cahill: Yes, I think Oregon State still will host. I think the Beavers are in great shape for that, in fact. Thirty-five wins, tied for second in the Pac-12 and No. 12 in RPI. Don't know what more you would want from a hosting resume. Now, do they make it to Omaha? I've had them out of my field for a few weeks now. It could happen, for sure, and getting the start they got out of Gambrell yesterday was encouraging, but I don't see the level of consistency that I'd like to feel confident in their ability to get back to the CWS.
- With Tech and Oklahoma state playing well right now does the big 12 have a shot at 2 national seeds or will it be either Tech or OSU?
Teddy Cahill: Two would probably require those two to face off in the Big 12 Tournament title game or a collapse from East Carolina and/or someone else. A lot to like about Oklahoma State's resume now, but the Cowboys still finished third in the Big 12 and are 11-8 against top 50 RPI teams. East Carolina, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech all have been better against top 50 teams (and on the road) and finished higher in their conferences. So Oklahoma State has some work to do to get on to the top eight seed line.
- What does winning the big 12 regular season championship do for Tech's chance at a national seed?
Teddy Cahill: It's a nice boost for sure. It's a separator from Georgia Tech right now. But there's still a week to go here.
- Does the committee take into account the regular season championship more or less than a tournament championship?
Teddy Cahill: I think about the same. Like, I just said that Texas Tech's Big 12 title is a separator from Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets can negate that by winning the ACC Tournament.
Ted (Lubbock, TX):
- With Texas Tech being the outright champions in the #2 RPI conference, are they a Top 8 lock now? I realize there are 10 really strong teams with really strong resumes fighting for those 8 but seems the committee would reward a Conference Champion over say Ga Tech or Stanford (assuming they dont fight back to catch UCLA.) Or does Tech need to still win more in OKC.
Teddy Cahill: I think Texas Tech is a top-eight overall seed right now but it is not a lock. As I just said, Georgia Tech still has a chance to be a conference champion itself. So an 0-2 in Bricktown would not be advisable, but it could be survivable, depending on what happened around Texas Tech.
- If Fresno State doesn't win the Mountain West tournament do they have a strong case for an at-large bid?
Teddy Cahill: I think Fresno State is in even if it doesn't win the Mountain West Tournament. It's up to 36 in RPI now. Maybe don't go 0-2 in Reno, but the Bulldogs are in pretty solid shape.
- With Illinois state being co-champions of the MVC, how well do they need to do in the tournament to make a regional?
Teddy Cahill: Illinois State is a lock
- Can Indiana host a regional if they win the Big Ten tournament? Do the have to win it to host?
Teddy Cahill: I think so and definitely. I think Indiana would need a bit of chaos around it to pull this off even with a tournament title. The Hoosiers are No. 30 in RPI now and jumping closer to 20 won't be easy. And even then, if NC State and LSU turn in strong weeks in Durham and Hoover, it'll be hard to jump them. So, I think there's a chance, but I think it's a small one.
Cooper (Jackson, MS):
- After Arkansas lost the series to Texas A&M, what’s the justification for leaving them above Mississippi State? Arkansas did sweep Mississippi State earlier in the season, but I feel like the lost series and the lower RPI should let Mississippi State jump over them.
Teddy Cahill: Won the SEC West and swept the series rather convincingly. We wanted to reward what Arkansas did over the full season.
Burke (Athens Georgia):
- Is Tennessee a dark horse team in the SEC and even in the NCCA tournament if they get in?
Teddy Cahill: I guess, with that pitching staff anything is possible. In Hoover it's really hard for any team that doesn't get the first-round bye to win the whole thing. It's just very taxing to have to win five games while there are four teams that only need to win four. The Vols will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament for sure. When their pitching is on, they can shutdown some very good offenses. I don't think anyone is particularly eager to draw them in their regional.
- Did USM choke away their at large chances these past two weeks?
Teddy Cahill: I know that's what Scott Berry thinks. He's probably right. Southern Miss' RPI is down to 56 and it's not like the CUSA Tournament gives it a ton of chances to improve that number. There are parts of the resume that still are ok, but it's probably bubble out right now.
Adam (Crown Point):
- BIG sweep Saturday by my Gators! I know .500 is the goal or "criteria" but does their SOS at 4, offset this? I'm hoping for a yes, and that a win isn't necessarily a must in Hoover. Thanks!
Teddy Cahill: Having at least a .500 conference record is not a requirement and there will be teams that get in this year with a losing conference record. But just having a good RPI or SOS number is not going to save a 13-18 conference record (the committee counts conference tournament games to the total). 2016 North Carolina is rather similar to Florida this year. It got left out with an RPI of 19 after going 13-17 and finishing 11th in the ACC. Now, the bubble is different every year and so is the committee. But losing on Tuesday means the Gators will be in for a long week before Selection Monday.
Dan (Sacramento, CA):
- Why aren't the New Mexico State Aggies getting any love in the Top 25? The WAC is a strong, but unheralded conference that could make some noise in the run to Omaha and the Aggies are clearly the best team in the conference. Middle Infielders Nick Gonzales and Joey Ortiz have the potential to be early round draft picks, but no one is talking about this team.
Teddy Cahill: I wrote about New Mexico State today in Off the Bat. It's a solid team, no doubt. But the Aggies are 8-10 against teams with winning records. It hasn't played a series against a projected regional team. It didn't win the WAC - which ranks No. 24 in conference RPI - outright. None of that sounds like a Top 25 team. It sounds like a team you don't really want as the four seed in your regional because their offense is going to give your pitchers a headache.
- Why does Tennessee seem to get so little respect?
Teddy Cahill: Ah, we've reached the part of the chat where we complain about #NoRespect. I don't know, Tennessee's been in the Top 25 this year. It finished ninth in the SEC and under .500 in conference play. How much respect to you want? The pitching, the RPI, what Tony Vitello has done in just a couple of years has all been impressive. It will be cause for celebration when they break the regionals drought.
- Who gets the #1 overall seed if Vandy wins the SEC Tournament and UCLA sweeps Oregon? What if UCLA only wins 2 of 3?
Teddy Cahill: Whatever the RPI says. And I don't have the mental capacity right now to run the numbers. But I will note that Vanderbilt has not won the SEC Tournament since 2007.
Steve (CHAMBLEE, GA):
- Is it possible they might only put 3 SEC teams in top 8, even though all four teams RPI"s are clearly worthy?
Teddy Cahill: It's possible. I don't think it's likely because of how the teams are arrayed. Arkansas has the worst RPI (6), but swept Mississippi State and won the SEC West. Mississippi State is No. 4 in RPI and has 45 wins and swept Georgia. Georgia is No. 3 and finished second in the conference (albeit in the weaker division). And Vanderbilt is safe. Georgia feels a little vulnerable, but its RPI and conference finish probably insulate it from even an 0-2 in Hoover. And Arkansas' RPI suggests it might be vulnerable, but winning the West is a nice addition to its resume. But maybe Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State go out and win their tournaments and really force the matter. Something might have to give then.
- What is one team that UCLA would not want to see in Regionals, Supers, and Omaha respectively? Do they have a weakness that can be exploited?
Teddy Cahill: I think I'll say Irvine for regionals, though trying to outpitch UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium feels like a fool's errand. But that's a tougher No. 3 than I'd want. I don't think any of the other west coast regionals will end up seeded No. 15 or 16, so I'll say maybe A&M in supers. The Aggies pitch really well and shouldn't be bothered by a trip to LA. And in Omaha, Vanderbilt is the obvious choice. Weakness? I don't think so. Best pitching staff in the country, they defend at a really high level and the lineup is powerful and deep, especially with Jeremy Ydens back. And it's an older group with a coach that knows what it takes to win a national title. Best team in the country for a reason.
Drew (Rochester, NY):
- If Arizona sweeps Washington State next weekend, can they actually get in to the tournament with only 3 Quad 1 wins considering they are in a Major conference?
Teddy Cahill: The record against the top 50 is not good, there's no way around that. But sweep Wazzu and Arizona will have a top 45 RPI and a winning conference record. With this bubble, I think that's going to be really hard to keep out. The options, frankly, are bad at the back end of the field and you have to get to 64 somehow. I think Arizona will check a good number of boxes. But there is absolutely no margin for error this weekend.
- Of the possible 4 west coast regionals (UCLA, OSU, Stanford, UCSB), how many of their 2 and 3 seeds do you expect to be ACC, SEC, or Big 12 teams traveling cross country?
Teddy Cahill: A week ago it was two of eight possible spots, though I'm not sure coming from Texas really counts as traveling cross country. UCLA being either the No. 1 or 2 overall seed means that it might not get a Power 5 two-seed and that cuts into the numbers. Last week, I sent Indiana State to LA. It's a puzzle and there's a lot that goes into it. I wouldn't worry too much about it, though I know this is a big point of contention with West Coasters who are sick of getting sent East. But as long as there's a rule against putting more than one team from a conference in a regional, this is what is going to happen.
Russell (Austin, TX):
- Hey Teddy, I have been following Texas baseball for a long time now, and I have never seen a team this bad. The beginning part of the year was great. I mean we swept LSU, who was top 10 at the time. We won the series with Texas Tech, we did lost to Stanford but at least it was competitive. It seems like after TCU, Texas just lost sight of the intangibles of baseball. I really don't blame Coach David Pierce for this, I blame the players. Longhorn Nation right now is soo bummed on how the last part of the season went. What in your opinion, happened to Texas? Thanks.
Teddy Cahill: Let's get out of here on this question that I don't have a good answer for. I think, ultimately, the injuries caught up to Texas. It got beat up pretty good early in the season and the Horns did a nice job of piecing it together. The team I saw beat Texas Tech looked like one of the best in the country. But I think a combination of depleted depth and youth got the Horns in the end. I certainly didn't see it coming and I'm sure Texas will get it straightened out next year. But this was not what anyone in Austin was expecting after going back to Omaha and winning the Big 12 last year.
Teddy Cahill: Thanks for all the questions today. I know everyone is very interested in NCAA Tournament scenarios right now and to that end, I'd encourage you to check out BaseballAmerica.com throughout the week. Beginning Wednesday, we'll update our Projected Field of 64 daily until Selection Monday. And then we'll be back here next week to talk about what the committee actually did and the NCAA Tournament ahead.