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College Baseball Rankings Top 25 Chat (4/30/18)

Teddy Cahill: Another big weekend of college baseball around the country. I've been in Florida for the past week, where we've had the pitching duel of the year between Brady Singer and Casey Mize as well as Mike Martin matching Augie Garrido's all-time wins record. Just a great week of baseball. Anyway, let's get to your questions.

John from the Sticks (Oregon):

    Am I correct that Florida can go 2-2 every week the rest of the year and remain No. 1 so long as it wins its weekend series?

Teddy Cahill: Well, Florida only has one midweek game left, but, yes, that's correct. Look, we go through this every week that the Gators lose a midweek game. I don't know how I can make this any clearer: Florida is the best team in the country and, to this point, it is not close. The Gators have won every weekend series. They have a three-game lead in the SEC, the toughest conference in the country. There is no team in the country that can match that resume. So if Florida wants to use midweeks to give underclassmen pitchers who haven't pitched in a month a chance to get back out on the mound - which happened this week - that's cool. It earned the chance to do that.

Maddog (Ashburn):

    Okay Teddy...Crystal Ball time (but we won't quote you): With two weekend series remaining in the ACC, how do you see things playing out? Tks.

Teddy Cahill: I'll take North Carolina. The Tar Heels are playing outstanding baseball and have been for the last month. That series at Duke is tricky, but having just swept a series at North Carolina State, UNC is plenty capable of going to Durham and winning. I think Clemson wins the other division and will be there if UNC slips up But even as well as the Tigers are playing I don't see it making up the game it needs to.

Phillip (Arkansas):

    What is your confidence level that Oklahoma State will win the Big 12 and what do they need to do from here out to host a regional this year?

Teddy Cahill: Pretty high. That three-game cushion is significant with just six games to play. They're six tough games - at Baylor and home to Texas Tech - but the way the Cowboys are playing, they can win both those series. It definitely helps that Texas Tech has to come to Stillwater. The Red Raiders just have not been as good away from Lubbock this season. As for hosting, if Oklahoma State just takes care of business and wins the Big 12, it probably is in good shape. I guess that means winning two of these last three series, if you want me to be a little less vague.

CarolinaBoy29 (Dunwoody, GA):

    After going 6-1 in the last 7 games including two straight weekend series wins against top 25 teams, how are the Gamecocks Not Ranked in the top 25?

Teddy Cahill: South Carolina has definitely made a strong case the last two weeks. For me, however, the Gamecocks are still behind Texas A&M in the SEC pecking order. Of the SEC teams we have ranked, South Carolina has won a series against just one of them - on the road this weekend at Vanderbilt. But the Commodores have twice as many wins against top-50 win teams as the Gamecocks. I've been impressed with South Carolina over the last couple weeks. The Gamecocks aren't going anywhere in this race.

Derek (TX):

    It looks like the big 12 may go down to the final do you see things playing out? Ok st and techs conference for the taking or is it a 3 team race still with Texas in 2nd facing brutal fast 2 wkends of season? Tell me they don’t get swept by both tech and tcu. Thanks for the Monday chats!

Teddy Cahill: It's a three-team race for now, but it'll be down to two teams after this weekend. The winner of Texas vs. Texas Tech this weekend will still be in the mix, but even then, as I said earlier, I feel good about Oklahoma State's chances to close this out. I'd definitely give Texas Tech the advantage this weekend because the series is in Lubbock where the Red Raiders are basically unbeatable. It'll be a fun one to watch this weekend for sure.

Ken (S Florida):

    Big ASUN weekend series JU at Stetson. If neither wins the conference tournament does the ASUN carry three into tournament? Conference RPI of 7 and both JU and Steston strong resume to date. Which conference loses out in that scenerio? AAC and CUSA ?

Teddy Cahill: I'm still rather skeptical that the A-Sun can support three teams in the NCAA Tournament. For that to happen, Stetson and Jacksonville have to be very careful about to whom they lose two games in the conference tournament. FGCU and Kennesaw State are fine thanks to their top-100 RPIs, but a loss to any other team is going to damage their pristine RPIs. And they both have a lot riding on their RPI. But, were it to happen in a way that they both maintained impressive RPIs and the committee decided it wanted to give both teams at-large bids, it's not like they just subtract an at-large bid from a similar conference in the region. They just drop the last team in the field, regardless of where that school plays. There's not a whole lot of regionalism left in the baseball tournament. So an extra A-Sun team would be bad news for bubble teams everywhere.

Jeramey (Locust Grove):

    After the slow start and breaking in some freshman at some key spots, TCU seems to be hitting thier groove at the right time. I know the rpi is low at 67 and they are just 4-13 against the top 50, but with two series left against top 35 teams, West Virginia and Texas. What is the likelihood of them get into the tournament, or would they have to win the Big 12 tournament to get in? Thanks as always!

Teddy Cahill: Just a week ago TCU got swept at Baylor. I don't think going 3-1 this week, even if two of the wins are against Texas Tech, means the Horned Frogs are hitting their stride. They've been an up-and-down team all season. TCU isn't to the point yet where it needs to win the Big 12 Tournament, but it has almost no margin for error if it is to avoid that fate. Yes, TCU has two good RPI series left, but it also has five games against RPI 200+ teams, which are going to do nothing for it. TCU can't afford any losses in those games and then needs to win its last two Big 12 series. There's still a lot of work to be done.

Jeff (CT):

    Why isn’t UConn ranked? They won 4 straight series, 2 of which were against ranked opponents. They sit at 3rd in the AAC, 13 in the RPI, they are 3rd in the country in road wins and they have a winning record against top 50 RPI teams. What more does this team have to do?

Teddy Cahill: UConn has a strange resume that I've personally struggled with for the last few weeks. We've had the Huskies ranked this year and we do like that team. I felt that we had to get South Florida ranked before we could truly consider UConn because the Bulls won the head-to-head series and are ahead in the standings. We cleared that obstacle last week and then debated UConn vs. Jacksonville for the final spot in the poll, coming down on Jacksonville having the better resume. This week, we had to get Houston ranked and we had to really cram them in there to make that happen - there wasn't room for anyone else, really. I'm very sympathetic to UConn and all northern teams for having to play on the road as much as they do. I grew up in Cleveland, I know what trying to play baseball in the winter is like. But I just have had trouble getting past the series losses at the Citadel and North Florida. And even if you look at the series UConn has won - only St. John's and UCF look like potential tournament teams. So that's why UConn isn't ranked. We've really debated the Huskies a lot. I'm clearly just not there yet.

Jeff (NC):

    Fun time for baseball fans in NC! What are your thoughts on Duke? Is this a one-year anomaly, or is Pollard actually building a program there?

Teddy Cahill: No, Duke has real staying power. The Blue Devils have recruited very well and while this team has a lot of veterans contributing, there are also underclassmen in key roles, especially on the mound. I think Duke was well positioned to take advantage of some of the ACC's traditional powers going through transitional years and there's no doubt that it's success this season is in part because of that. But Chris Pollard took Appalachian State to a regional final. Duke is in good hands with him at the helm.

BG (Starkville):

    Mississippi State sweeps Bama, takes care of Troy in a midweek, and manages 1 from @Kentucky & Florida. RPI currently mid 30’s & SOS at 5. That enough to get State in the field or would they still need to do some work in Hoover?

Teddy Cahill: I said last week that Mississippi State needed to go .500 over the last four SEC series to get in. I stand by that. It's possible an SEC team gets in this year with 13 conference wins, but I'd feel a lot more confident with 14, especially because only having 13 SEC wins means you'd be in Tuesday's play-in games in Hoover and anything can happen that day. That means going 5-4 against Alabama, Kentucky and Florida. It's probably going to be tight, but it's entirely possible for the Bulldogs.

Tyler (Dimmitt):

    Even after a 1-3 weekend is Tech still in good shape for a national seed or should we be worried?

Teddy Cahill: Beat Texas this weekend and Texas Tech should be ok. But it can't afford to slip down the Big 12 standings, especially with a tough series in Stillwater still to come.

Sam (South Carolina):

    After the tough weekend at home against UNC, is N.C. State out of the National seed race? If not, what has to happen for the Wolfpack to end up a National seed?

Teddy Cahill: I wouldn't say it's out. I also don't think the Wolfpack will be a top-eight seed this week when we update our Field of 64 projections. North Carolina and Clemson have passed NC State at this point. NC State has always lagged in RPI, but as long as it was leading the ACC it wasn't a big deal. Now that it's not even leading its division, that No. 14 RPI, which is unlikely to get much better, becomes tougher to justify. To get back in that position, NC State has to win the series at Florida State and it can't afford to slip up at all before then. That doesn't necessarily mean going 9-0, but it might mean going 8-1. Clemson slipping up would also be helpful for NC State.

Hunter Owen (Brian Westerholt Four Seam Images)

College Baseball Week Five Standouts: Brandon Sproat Deals, Hunter Owen Stymies Ole Miss

It was another exciting weekend in college baseball, headlined by the start of SEC and Big 12 conference play. Here were some of the top performers in Week 5.

Zack (Greenville, NC):

    Is it safe to assume that the only thing East Carolina will be hosting now is a pizza party to see where they will be going? Or are they still in the hunt for a regional host?

Teddy Cahill: I don't think ECU's hosting chances are totally gone, but they're not looking great either. The RPI is certainly attainable, but it's hard to see the third place team in the conference hosting. It would start with getting on a run in the last few weeks and closing the gap in the standings. It may also require winning the AAC Tournament, as Houston did last year.

Chris Radford (Raleigh, NC):

    With the AAC's RPI now #3 on and VERY close to #2 behind the Big 12, how much did Houston's sweep of ECU hurt them towards hosting a regional? I see 5, maybe 6 teams making the NCAA tournament from this confernece....You?

Teddy Cahill: It wasn't helpful, that's for sure. But South Florida can still get itself in a range to host. And the way Houston's playing, it may just keep winning all the way through Clearwater and work itself into the host race. As for the number of bids, I do not see six teams getting in. I can't imagine the committee is going to look favorably upon a team with a losing record in the American and Wichita State needs to go 7-2 over the final weekends to avoid that. UCF is also hovering around .500 and has a bubbly RPI. I see four bids safely and a real chance for five, whether that's UCF or someone getting hot in Clearwater and winning the conference tournament.

Ethan (Raleigh):

    You just said Clemson has passed NC State in the national seed race- how so? State is two games back, but swept Clemson on the road, plus had to face the top two teams in the Coastal, who Clemson avoided. You had Clemson as the 13 seed and State as the 4 last week, so State losing three games by a total of four runs is enough to get passed by a team who was 9 spots back and beat a non-tournament team?

Teddy Cahill: Clemson now is ahead in the standings and has the better RPI. Pretty much every metric favors Clemson except the head-to-head result. But probably the biggest change is that last week we had NC State as the ACC champion. That won't be the case this week and that changes the calculus a lot.

John (Columbus):

    With the Buckeyes sitting at 28-13 and some crucial conference games coming up, do you see them pushing into the field of 64?

Teddy Cahill: We've had Ohio State in the field the last couple weeks. I still think the Buckeyes are in fine shape, but obviously they have to keep winning against some tough teams down the stretch. That walk-off yesterday was big for Ohio State with the B1G standings being as tightly bunched as they are. Going to be a fun stretch run in the Big Ten.

Mike (Tallahassee):

    Saw that you were covering from Tallahassee this weekend. Does FSU still have a shot to be a National Seed? What would they have to do the rest of the way to earn one?

Teddy Cahill: Yes, but Florida State has to win the series against Clemson and North Carolina State. It's a tough stretch run for the Seminoles, but they were facing a pretty tough one last year and found a way to get it done. Getting healthier on the mound would be a huge boost for the Noles.

Sam (North Carolina):

    Thoughts on the Minnesota Golden Gophers? Chance to host?

Teddy Cahill: Yes, I think Minnesota can push into the hosting race. The Gophers have to keep winning and that starts this weekend with a tough series against Indiana. But having already beaten Purdue, Ohio State and Iowa, that would give the Gophers series wins against four of the other top six teams in the league. Regardless of whether they can get ahead of Michigan in the standings - thanks unbalanced B1G schedule, that would give them a strong case as being the best team in the conference. And the RPI is already pushing to the edge of where it needs to be. If Minnesota closes strong, it has a real shot at a Minneapolis Regional.

Will (Washington DC):

    Speaking of questions you get every week: after this last set of results, how do you see the battle for the last spot in Hoover shaking out in the SEC?

Teddy Cahill: Kind of kidding, kind of not - the SEC should take teams 2-11 to Hoover this year. Let the Gators have the weekend off or bring them in for the semifinals or something. With every team but Alabama making a push to the bubble, give them all one last shot at improving their resume.

Teddy Cahill: And on that note, that'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for the questions. We'll be back here next week to talk more about the bubble and hosting and top-eight seeds and al the rest of that fun stuff.

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