2021 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (3/1/21)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's chat. We're coming off a very exciting weekend of college baseball that saw Arkansas rise to No. 1 in the Top 25 and chaos reign in the ACC. You have questions, so let's get to them.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- So Virginia loses two out of three to North Carolina. Such a small sample and each game being decided by one run, is this any sort of clear indication that UNC is better than UVA?
Teddy Cahill: One of the biggest upsets of the weekend was North Carolina winning that series. It was decided by the slimmest of margins, as you note. All three games were decided by one run and all three games were very low scoring. As you can see in the updated T25, we did not take it as an indication that UNC is clearly better than UVA. I still think the Hoos have the more talented roster and have the higher ceiling based on their offense. Ultimately, this series came down to UNC successfully pulling off a delayed steal of home in Saturday's game, which is truly wild. What I'm taking away from this series is 1) Justice Thompson is the truth and 2) UNC's pitching gives it a real chance to make some noise in the ACC.
- BC obviously had a great weekend beating Duke (and are off to a 5-1 start) and now they're all the way up to No. 18. What do you think their ceiling is?
Teddy Cahill: We're pretty high on BC. The Eagles have a trio of Preseason All-Americans - outfielder Sal Frelick, infielder Cody Morrisssette and righthander Mason Pelio. Those guys get a lot of attention and really help BC's ceiling because you need stars to win, but there's solid talent beyond them. Emmett Sheehan may be ready for a breakout spring in their rotation, Dante Balldelli and Chris Galland have played a lot of college baseball and there are some solid newcomers who will mix in. This team has an Omaha ceiling. I've been impressed with how they've started the season after getting off to a slow start in 2020. Now, the key is going to be building consistency.
Jerry (Clarks Summit Pa):
- how close is Arizona St to making the top 25?
Teddy Cahill: We've talked about ASU every time we've done a T25. I think the Sun Devils were the closest the making it a week ago. They're still right there today - those series wins against Sacramento State and Hawaii are solid. One thing to watch is lefthander Cooper Benson's status moving forward after he ws lifted after just one inning Friday night. I think the next few weeks set up well for ASU, it should have a pretty strong record headed into Pac-12 play later this month. I'd like to see the Sun Devils play on the road, but we'll have to wait a few weeks for that to happen.
- Is there even a path to BIG 10 teams cracking the top 25 now that they'll just be beating up on themselves?
Teddy Cahill: Absolutely. Look, is it ideal? No. RPI is going to be useless for Big Ten teams, but we still have eyes. The best teams and players will still stand out and, at some point, they'll earn their way into the Top 25. What the Big Ten teams have missed is an opportunity to make a statement against non-conference competition. That would make it easier to jump into the rankings, but not having that won't make it impossible. We'll be watching and evaluating and ranking when necessary, just like the selection committee will at the end of the season.
- How about my Pitt Panthers. Surprised you didn’t feel like they have done enough to earn a spot in your Top 25 this week.
Teddy Cahill: That was a really impressive sweep at Florida State. The Panthers pitched well, which I'm not particularly surprised by given coach Mike Bell's background as a pitching coach. But Pitt also hit very well, a testament to the depth of its lineup and experience of its hitters. We ran out of room for the Panthers in the Top 25, but it's been a strong start to the season so far. Not only did they sweep the Noles, their series win last week against Indiana State was solid to begin with and now looks even better after the Sycamores spit a four-game series at Tennessee. If Pitt keeps this up, it'll break into the T25 sooner than later.
- Thoughts on Southern Miss after a good series win over UConn?
Teddy Cahill: Southern Miss is off to a solid, but frankly unspectacular, start. That was a nice series win against UConn this weekend, but that's probably what I'd have expected. 4-3 after two weeks having played Northwestern State, South Alabama and UConn is all right. USM isn't hitting yet. They've done a good job taking advantage of some miscues from opponents, which is important, but they're going to need to improve on a .191 batting average. The good news is the talent is there in the lineup and they're pitching well enough. Plenty of time to improve over the course of the season and USM has some more opportunities to make its mark, starting this week against Mississippi State.
Edwin Weatherly (Florence, South Carolina):
- Louisville is #4 & really have gotten nothing from Binelas so far. Do you see them as championship contenders assuming Binelas heats up?
Teddy Cahill: Absolutely, Louisville is a national championship contender. Any team that starts the season in the top eight has to be thought of that way. The Cardinals have a high, high offensive upside with the likes of Binelas, Levi Usher and Henry Davis in the lineup. Once Binelas, who I picked to win Player of the Year, really gets going offensively, I'd say opposing pitchers should look out. Looking forward to see how that unfolds, particularly as they get into ACC play this weekend at Georgia Tech.
- I keep hearing and seeing big things about Washington State. What do they still need to do to prove they should be in the Top 25?
Teddy Cahill: I like the direction Brian Green has the Cougars moving in. But, in terms of Top 25, going 7-1 against UC Davis and Dixie State (playing its first games as a DI team) isn't doing it for me. Important that the Cougars keep winning these games - especially doing so on the road, but until they play UW in a couple weeks, it's going to be hard to really evaluate where they are.
- ECU met a REAL good Georgia Southern team this last Weekend. They, GS, are a veteran team and can play with anyone in the country. ECU was lucky to win the series but played like the team they can be on Sunday. You moved them up in the polls, but, you put a UNC team in front of them even though they, UNC, weren't even in the polls at all last week on a series win at HOME against Virginia. What gives? Both ECU and UNC do get to play a home and home series in late March so who do you see winning this two game series and forgetting your ACC or SEC bias how do you justify your polls?
Teddy Cahill: I think UVA is that much better than Georgia Southern. That's no disrespect to Georgia Southern, which is a really solid team that's given Tennessee and ECU all they wanted over the first two weeks. But the Hoos are a top-five, top-10 team. Winning a series against that kind of team - even at home - was more impressive than beating Georgia Southern on the road.
- Good day, do you anticipate Landon Sims becoming a starter by the end of March 2021?
Teddy Cahill: Landon Sims has been incredible so far this season: like 20 strikeouts in 7.2 innings, incredible. That's going to play in the bullpen or the rotation. If I had to guess, I'd say no on the rotation. Will Bednar is going to come back soon. Eric Cerrantola didn't have the best start this weekend, but that was his debut. If those guys lock in, Sims is probably more valuable in this relief ace role - think Dane Dunning at UF a few years ago. If someone in the rotation falters, however, Sims will be ready to go.
Adam (Crown Point):
- Good afternoon! I was thinking ND was an Omaha sleeper team before the year, in terms of hitting and the way they played last year, but if their pitching can come around or be decent, with the way they can absolute rake and mash, is ND an Omaha sleeper?!
Teddy Cahill: You're in good company. Notre Dame was my Omaha sleeper (as defined by a team outside the Preseason Top 25). So, yes, the Irish definitely have CWS upside in my eyes. It's a veteran club with some star power in the lineup and pitching staff, and a lot of depth on the mound.
RH (La Vergne TN):
- Where do you think the best place to live to watch college baseball is? We recently moved to the Nashvile area and where we live we have 4 D1 programs in 4 conferences within a half hour as well as a DII program and NAIA program. Can't see any of them this year but curious where might top that.
Teddy Cahill: Big fan of this question. Nashville is definitely a contender. Some others: the Raleigh/Durham area (four ACC schools in the area, ECU not far away, a host of mid-majors and USA Baseball's complex is a draw both for the national team and some scattered games), Houston (UH and Rice in town, A&M an easy drive, Texas not terribly far away in Austin), Louisville (UL, Cincinnati/Indiana close by, easy driving to Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Knoxville, etc.), Atlanta (GT and UGA, easy driving to many other southern locales), Los Angeles (UCLA, USC, Fullerton, UCI, UCSB, etc.), Boston (Cape Cod, BC, most of NE is accessible). Picking among those places I think comes down to personal preference.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for your questions. It's really been a fun season so far. Hopefully that's going to continue throughout the spring. See you back here next week.