Baseball America Top 25 Chat

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s Top 25 chat. It was another exciting weekend in college baseball, so let’s get to your questions.

Chris (San Clemente): Craziness in the Pac-12! What do you think of Stanford and Utah? Are they for real or is it way too early?
Teddy Cahill: Let’s start with probably the biggest surprise among the Power 5 conferences. After three weekends of Pac-12 play, Utah is tied with California for first place in the conference at 7-2. The Utes have already matched their most conference wins in a season since joining the Pac-12 for the 2012 season. Now, is it for real? I think in some respects, it is. Coach Bill Kinneberg told me he thought coming into the season this team would be able to compete in the Pac-12. And the Pac-12 is not full of outstanding teams this year. I don’t think Utah finishes the year tied for first, but the way its playing, it could hang around the top half of the standings. Stanford, I feel even better about. That’s a team I liked a bit coming into the season and probably hasn’t yet hit its stride. The Cardinal have played both Pac-12 series so far at home and have a couple big road series coming up, with UCLA and Arizona the next two weekends. I think we’ll know more about Stanford after those series.

Dallas (Denver): Hello! The West Coast seems to be having a rough year for college baseball. UCLA & Oregon have tanked. Oregon St doesn't look as great as their ranking would suggest. UCSB seems to be the only shiny spot out of the Big West this year. Cal looks okay but that Duke series loss sticks out like a sore thumb. Do you honestly see a West Coast team making it to Omaha this year vs what seems to be a dominant year from the SEC & ACC in the East?
Teddy Cahill: Let’s stay out West for another question. In my latest Eight for Omaha (in this week’s Off the Bat: I have Cal in the field. So, yes, I do think a West Coast team will make the CWS. The Golden Bears look like the best team out there. Oregon State is talented, but will have to move on without ace Drew Rasmussen. UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State have both been solid in the Big West, and Fullerton often seems to find a way to play its best baseball at the end of the year. But obviously this has not been a great year for the West Coast.

Roger (Mission Viejo): What is the state of the WCC? With their slow starts in conference play, do you still see USD and Pepperdine as the the last two standing playing for the automatic bid?
Teddy Cahill: Is an an all West Coast chat on tap today? The WCC has been surprising as well. Brigham Young is off to an incredible start, with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s following closely behind. To this point, I don’t know that you can say San Diego and Pepperdine will be able to figure it out to be the last two teams standing. San Diego has a big series this weekend at BYU. It is three games behind BYU already, and can ill-afford to fall any further behind. But the Cougars are 10-2 at home and, right now, are playing like the best team in the conference.

John (Fresno,California): Hey Teddy, Just got done watching Fresno State SHUT DOWN!! those HOT Air Force bats w/a 3-game sweep and improve their record to 20-8 this season and tied w/New Mexico atop the MW Standings w/ a BIG showdown coming up against the Lobos this weekend...What are your thoughts about these DOGS..I think they have something SPECIAL here.
Teddy Cahill: Fresno State has been playing really well this year. Since pulling out of that seven-game losing streak that came against the best teams on its schedule this year, the Bulldogs are 9-1. They’re rolling now headed into that series. With Ricky Thomas and Jimmy Lambert at the top of the rotation, Fresno State is really tough to beat on a weekend. But it’ll be really interesting to see how they fare this weekend in New Mexico’s hitter friendly park.

Nate (Tallahassee): After playing only 3 games in 12 days due to terrible weather luck (48hrs of rain in Tallahassee vs NCSt and Rain/Snow at BC), FSU has a difficult 6 games over 8 days vs 3 ranked opponents (Texas Tech, Louisville, & Florida). How do you think long periods of down-time will affect the Noles? Do you think they will come out a bit slow this week or do you think the extra rest will be good for their system after playing the #1 schedule the first half of the year?
Teddy Cahill: All right, moving on from the West Coast. Florida State has had some awful luck the last two weekends. It’s really hard to say how all the time off will affect them. I think the Seminoles are talented enough to handle it, especially since they get to stay at home this week, but, at the same time, that’s a young team that was just getting rolling and now has to get it going again. I liked what Florida State and Texas Tech did, adding the two games to make up for rain outs for both teams, but they way it worked out, FSU plunked these two games right at the start of a very tough stretch in the schedule. It will be very interesting to see how they navigate this week.

Tyler J. (North Carolina): After winning the series against Virginia, how close was NC State from cracking the Top 25 once again?
Teddy Cahill: North Carolina State, Florida State’s opponent last weekend, was one of the three teams we discussed for the final spot in the rankings this week. As we discussed on the podcast this week, the Wolfpack are one of a few teams in a muddled middle of the ACC pack. They need to make some hay the next few weeks, as the schedule looks back-loaded with a stretch of Clemson, Louisville and North Carolina to close the season.

Russ (Austin, Texas): One question, what is wrong with Texas this year? Thanks,
Teddy Cahill: Texas has played a tough schedule (No. 10, per, but at some point they need to be winning some of these games. I thought the Longhorns might have turned a corner with their series win at TCU last week, but then they lost the series finale, a midweek to Lamar and lost the rivalry series at Oklahoma. I know they haven’t played as well defensively as they would like and they’re still sorting through some things with the pitching staff. Unfortunately for Texas, that’s a team that is consistently built on pitching and defense, so when those falter, it’s tough to string together wins. There’s talent on that team, but Texas may have put itself in a situation again this year where it will have to win the Big 12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.

Tom (Austin, Texas): I think Mississippi State may be as good as anyone else for your “Eight for Omaha” list this week. With Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton on the mound, they could probably win a Super Regional; however, after another Sunday loss, what makes you think the Bulldogs can put together enough quality pitching to win more than two in a Regional weekend? Who's going to step up?
Teddy Cahill: As Tom is referencing here, I moved Mississippi State into my Eight for Omaha this week. I’m not overly concerned with its ability to win more than twice in a regional. The way the Bulldogs are playing now, they’ll likely host and they’re very tough to beat in Starkville. So between home field advantage, their powerful offense and the overall decline in pitching you see late in regionals, I don’t think it’s too much of a concern. It’s probably more of an issue in a super regional, where they probably will be facing a team with two really good starters of its own. But that’s all two months down the road. A lot can happen between now and then.

Dylan johnson (Starkville): Mississippi state has looked elite this year, besides a few hiccups during mid week. What's your take on the Bulldogs so far, and what your take and predictions on the Flordia series this weekend? And if they do lose 2/3 from Florida who most people do at Gainesville, how far do they fall in the rankings?
Teddy Cahill: Mississippi State has really been rolling the last month, with the sweep of Oregon and three straight series wins to open SEC play. Obviously, it looks like a really talented team. At this point, pretty hard to predict any team goes into Gainesville and wins a series, but this weekend should be a great one. As for how the results might affect the rankings, that’s almost impossible to know now. The games don’t take place in a vacuum, so some of it depends on what happens around them. But, generally, we don’t hammer teams that lose series to the top-ranked team in the country, especially when they’re on the road.

Teddy Cahill: Thanks everyone for your questions. If I didn’t get to yours (and I know it was a quick chat today), leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it there.

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