College Baseball Rankings Top 25 Chat (4/23/18)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. Another exciting week of baseball around the country gives us plenty to talk about today. Let's dive right in.
- What do the Gamecocks need to do to get into NCAA’s? Thoughts on Coaching staff at Carolina?
Teddy Cahill: South Carolina had a big weekend, sweeping LSU to get back to .500 in the SEC. But there's still work to be done. It's RPI isn't good enough yet, but that will be taken care of provided it stays around .500 in the SEC. That means South Carolina probably needs to win two of its remaining series @ Vandy, vs. Ole Miss, vs. Mizzou and @ Texas A&M. As I said last week, it's possible, but I'm not going to project it, even after what happened this weekend. That said, I really hope the second half of this question isn't implying that there is already unrest among fans with Mark Kingston. That's a really, really good coaching staff that needs some time. The team they inherited was not an elite one. I understand that South Carolina always expects to be in the Omaha mix every year, but we did not project this team as a regional team coming into the year for a reason. They need to build back to that level.
Alvin (Palo Alto):
- Surprised Stanford didn't move up in the rankings after a very gutty 3 game sweep on the road against a tough Arizona squad. Stanford showed much resilience late in those games in a hostile environment.
Teddy Cahill: Who is Stanford supposed to jump? The North Carolina State team that won a top-10 series on the road or the Florida team that won a top-10 series on the road? We like Stanford. It was a good week for the Cardinal. It wasn't that much better than Florida or NC State - two teams that have yet to lose a series all year.
Jennie (New Haven, CT):
- What does Stanford have to do to jump to number one?
Teddy Cahill: As I have said all year whenever anyone asks a question likes this: it starts with a Florida series loss. The Gators are the clear-cut No. 1 team in the country and it's not particularly close right now.
David (Jackson, MS):
- First series the Ole Miss starting rotation all went deep (at least past 5 innings). Thoughts on if this is true progress or just "happened" and how if it is progress and the bats stay lively, how far can this team go?
Teddy Cahill: I've never been particularly worried about the rotation. I think when you have the bullpen Ole Miss has, there's a natural inclination to go to it early and often. And it's a formula that's worked really well this season. So if the starters are going to go deeper, that's cool, but it's not a requirement. I think Ole Miss is an Omaha team, as I've thought for probably the last six weeks. There's no reason why the Rebels can't be in the mix at the end of the year.
- How far are the Titans out of the top 25,and do they have the talent to out together a run deep into the post season?
Teddy Cahill: Fullerton needs to get above .500 before it worries about being in the Top 25. But, yes, the talent is definitely there for a postseason run if it can get there. It would be just like Fullerton too to dig itself the hole it did, get out of it and then go win a regional. And the pitching is there to make it happen. I don't know if the offense is, but I've also just described the archetypal Fullerton team of recent years. I'm not going to predict that it happens, but I'm not going to be surprised if it does either.
- Where do you project Northeastern and UConn in the postseason? Do you think they can get 2 seeds?
Teddy Cahill: Northeastern was one of the first teams out of the tournament last week in our Projected Field of 64. I guess the Huskies will probably be back in this week now that they're in first place, but my feeling is they'll be on the bubble for the next month. Their RPI is, in likelihood, only going to get worse. And they can maintain a solid number, but they aren't going to have the opportunity to add many quality wins the rest of the way. So I think Northeastern is ultimately a 3 seed. UConn is probably looking at a 2 seed as long as it stays in the top half of the American standings.
Jamie (Dallas, TX):
- Despite NC State achieving their highest ranking ever this year and sweeping Clemson earlier in the season, with just 9 ACC conference games left and Clemson only 1 game back (Wolfpack have the tiebreaker though), it seems they have a tougher remaining conference schedule. How likely is it that they end up NOT winning the ACC Atlantic?
Teddy Cahill: Entirely possible. I would say NC State has the tougher remaining schedule because it has a series against North Carolina and visits Florida State, while Clemson visits Virginia and gets FSU at home. The Wake and Pitt series are kind of a wash for me. Is that enough for Clemson to make up what is effectively a two-game deficit in the standings? I don't think it is, but this weekend is pivotal. If Clemson slips up, NC State could come close to putting it out of reach with a series win. Conversely, if State slips up, Clemson could make this a two-weekend sprint at the end of May.
- What do you think NC State will be seeded if they lose zero, one, or two series the rest of the way?
Teddy Cahill: If it doesn't lose a series the rest of the way, NC State is one of the top four seeds. One series loss is probably still top eight. Two series losses gets complicated. Does State still win its division? Did it lose to UNC and FSU or did it drop one of William & Mary or Wake? Dropping two series would definitely mean NC State would be in a lot less control of its own destiny when it comes to seeding.
- With OU losing 2 straight series and OSU sweeping 2 of the last 3, does OU right the ship or get buried leaving the Big 12 race to 3 teams (Tech Texas and OSU)?
Teddy Cahill: I think Oklahoma can get back on track this weekend in Bedlam. Three of its four losses the last two weekends have come in games that it was leading or tied going into the eighth. So it's really close to completely changing the narrative. At the same time, that doesn't say anything good about its bullpen. Oklahoma State is playing great right now, but it's also beating up on the bottom half of the Big 12. This is going to be much more of a challenge for the Cowboys. It's going to be a fun weekend for sure.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- Is thier a more Dr Jeykel and Mr Hyde team than Georgia Tech? They sweep Miami and win the series vs a very good FSU team and then lay eggs on the road at Pitt and at UNC. What do you make of this team? Do they get into a regional and if so, how dangerous are they? Thanks
Teddy Cahill: I feel like that's pretty standard in the middle of the ACC. Wake won series against Florida State and Duke, but was swept by Clemson and North Carolina. Miami won a series at Clemson and then lost a home series to Pitt. The middle of the road ACC teams aren't that great this year, but they all still have the talent to make things difficult for the teams at the top of the conference. As for Georgia Tech specifically, I think it's bubble out. It has an easier finish, but it's 9-12 in the ACC and will need to win two of its three remaining conference series to get close to .500 in the league. If it wins this weekend at home against Wake, it still needs to win either at Virginia or home vs. Duke. Georgia Tech is 5-12 on the road this season and Duke is a top-15 team. That leaves the Yellow Jackets with a tall order in the final two weeks.
Harry (Pearl, MS):
- How bout them Dawgs? Big weekend sweep of the Hogs. What do you reckon we need to do to get in a regional? Thanks brother and HAIL STAAAAATE!!!
Teddy Cahill: Big change in tune this week from Harry. I think going .500 the rest of the way does it for Mississippi State. I think weekend is pretty close to a must win, however, because I certainly wouldn't want to go to Kentucky or into that final weekend against Florida needing a series win to keep the SEC record close to .500.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- How Close is Michigan to Bieng ranked and are they capable of making a super?
Teddy Cahill: Reasonably close. We wanted a second Big Ten team in the rankings and there's a case for both Michigan and Ohio State. I think the difficulty with the Wolverines is that while the 20-game winning streak is really, really loud, they've done it largely at home and against the bottom third of the Big Ten. This weekend at Iowa looms as a significant test for Michigan. Can this team win a regional? Sure, why not? They're playing with incredible belief, have a pretty deep pitching staff and some offensive firepower in Jonathan Englemann and Jesse Franklin. If they can get Ako Thomas and Miles Lewis going, they're really dangerous.
- Is there anything else ECU has to do to solidify themselves as a host?
Teddy Cahill: Win the American. East Carolina doesn't have a lot of chances to really boost its resume in terms of series wins or RPI, but adding a conference title would be a nice feather in their Pirate hat.
Gregory (Orange, CA):
- Is UCLA looking more like a host site after the rivalry sweep this weekend? And if they win the conference, will they be a top 8 seed?
Teddy Cahill: We had UCLA hosting in last week's Projected Field of 64. Needless to say, this weekend's results did nothing to hurt that. The Bruins still have some RPI work to do, but as long as they stay near the top of the Pac-12, that will take care of itself. I really like this UCLA team.
ACC Fan (North Carolina):
- What are the odds the ACC ends up with only five regional teams?
Teddy Cahill: Not insignificant. I think Louisville is in fine shape, but it's RPI has dropped to 42 and it's schedule the rest of the way has some potential anchors in it. But I think Louisville gets it done and the ACC gets six teams in regionals. That still would be the least number of ACC teams in regionals since 2008, which is pre-conference expansion.
Jimmy (South Carolina):
- There are some really good pitching numbers coming out of the CAA; namely Elon, CofC, & Northeastern. I know this isn’t a Q&A re: potential regionals but which team would you fear most if you were a 1 seed with the CAA champion in your bracket?
Teddy Cahill: Probably Charleston. That's a team that swept Georgia, won a series at Kansas State and won the head-to-head matchup with Northeastern. Elon's top two arms are scary, but it hasn't faced elite competition all season. Completely unknown how its hitters would fare against top-end arms. Northeastern is very used to facing high-end teams, but it also hasn't won many of those games. So my answer is Charleston, but really I'd probably be happier to see someone else have to deal with whatever CAA team(s) make regionals.
- With the Ducks continuing to struggle against the Beavers, do you see any change in coaching staff at the end of season?
Teddy Cahill: George Horton's contract was set to expire after last season. Oregon gave him a three-year extension. To me, that's not the kind of move you make only to fire the guy a year later.
- Can Texas Tech be a National Seed without winning the Big 12 Title?
Teddy Cahill: Yes. Texas Tech is No. 3 in RPI right now and it doesn't need to play better than .500 the rest of the way to maintain a top-eight RPI. I think it needs to be close to the top of the standings if it doesn't win its third straight conference title, but being a top-eight seed is very much in Texas Tech's grasp right now.
- Why are mid-week games discounted so much? The teams that succeed in Omaha almost always have to throw more than three starters, especially if coming through the losers bracket. Seems like mid-week games would measure depth.
Teddy Cahill: There's a lot to this question. First - teams in Omaha use fewer pitchers than they do in the regular season. And by then pitching staff's have gotten so screwy that even if you had a reliable midweek starter, that's not necessarily who you're throwing the one time you need a fourth starter - both Florida and LSU pulled a guy out of their bullpen to start a finals game last season. So while midweek games do measure depth, it doesn't translate 1-for-1 in the postseason. And that kind of speaks to why they're taken less seriously than weekend games. Between needing to cover the rotation and the top couple spots in the bullpen, very, very few teams have enough pitching to park a reliable starter on Tuesdays all season. Beyond that, the games typically are against disparate competition levels. While power teams usually play a couple midweeks against high-end competition, they also play probably 10-12 games against smaller conference opponents who can't matchup in terms of depth or talent. So those games wind up not being a true test of ability.
Bubble Watch: LSU, North Carolina Bolster Hosting Cases
As conference tournaments continue, we look at NCAA Tournament bubble winners and losers from Friday.
Wally Robins (Lubbock, TX):
- Most of the mid-week contests are basically inconsequential this time of year to those near the top of the rankings, but are there any big-time ramifications to the outcome of the Texas Tech @ Arkansas two-game series? In other words is it a "game-changer" for either program regardless of outcome?
Teddy Cahill: No. Neither one needs the RPI help or the additional quality wins, provided they take care of business in conference play. And if they don't, they won't be hosting any way. So just enjoy what should be an entertaining couple of games in Fayetteville
- General thoughts on the Dawgs so far and the chances to host? It seems these next two weekends against Tennessee and Mizzou are big.
Teddy Cahill: This is the SEC, guys, you've got to specify which Dawgs or Tigers you mean. In this case, we're talking about Georgia, which is tied for second in the league despite losing three straight series. If Georgia can stay up there in the standings, it's going to host. It needs to win these two weekends for that to happen. But I like this Georgia team. There's a nice mix of young talent and veteran players and they're getting production from a lot of different places. It's finally coming together in Athens after a long postseason drought.
Stanford Cardinal (63005):
- Florida goes 2-2 the last week and stays #1?
Teddy Cahill: That is a thing that happened, yes. But, then again, the two wins came on the road against a top-10 opponent. And Florida still hasn't lost a series, is winning the best league in the country and leads the nation with 34 wins. But let's focus on the fact they went 2-2, sure.
- If the Buckeyes win their home series vs Minnesota, you think they’ll crack the top 25.
Teddy Cahill: Most likely. This stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum, but we considered Ohio State this week. Win that series and the Buckeyes probably move into second place in the conference and have back-to-back Top 25 series wins to go with an already solid resume. Should be another fun weekend in Columbus.
Eric Simmons (Thornton, Colorado):
- Did Houston get back in the at large discussion after sweeping Wichita State? I think they might have but I think they still have work to do! That was an enormous sweep by the Cougars!
Teddy Cahill: Houston still has a lot of work to do. This weekend was a big result for the Cougars, but they're not out of the woods yet and things get a bit tougher for them down the stretch when they are on the road more often. But Houston is playing really well right now and with its pitching is going to be tough to beat.
- What does Auburn need to do to host? A week ago even getting in the he tournament was not looking good before we came back to beat MSU then pounded out 56 runs this week. Any chance for us to host?
Teddy Cahill: Auburn is light on quality series wins. It's got a great RPI, but it's going to need to win a couple of these series against Auburn, Vandy, Ole Miss and LSU just to stay at .500 in the SEC. Getting to 16 SEC wins would be big, so that means going 7-5 the rest of the way in the SEC. Maybe that's enough, but it's tough to sort out the potential SEC hosts right now. The standings are just so jumbled.
Ben (Palo Alto):
- Could the PAC12 have 3 super regional hosts if UCLA continues to take care of business? How do you think the top 3 in the PAC match up with the top 3 of the SEC?
Teddy Cahill: I suppose it's possible, but UCLA has a lot of RPI work left to do if it's going to get a top-eight seed. It's clearest path is probably winning the Pac-12, but if it does that, it might knock Oregon State or Stanford out of the top eight. I'd love to see that matchup of Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss against Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA. The SEC teams are on average slightly ahead in the Top 25 and they have the best team in the group, but it would be a fun weekend tournament if we could get those six teams all in the same spot.
- Is it possible for Oklahoma State to host a regional this year, and if so, what do they need to do to make that happen?
Teddy Cahill: Yes. Win the Big 12 and Oklahoma State will host. I don't think it can do it without winning the Big 12, in large part because of its remaining schedule. If it wins most of the games against the teams it has left, it will win the Big 12. If it doesn't, it won't have the RPI it needs to host. So the Cowboys path is pretty clear right now.
- I know there's plenty of baseball left, but who do you see as the biggest challengers to Florida? Who are the most complete teams behind them?
Teddy Cahill: Stanford, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Oregon State and Arkansas. Am I being stubborn about Arkansas? Maybe, but I really like that team's all-around talent as you might have picked up on if you've been following all season. Oregon State is playing really well and has plenty of talent on the mound and at the plate. Ole Miss' pitching staff is deep and I like it's mix in the lineup. Texas Tech definitely lost something when Gingery went down, but that lineup is scary and it still has an impressive array of arms. Stanford's rotation stacks up well with anyone in the country and have produced all season offensively. Notably missing: North Carolina State. I just don't know that the Wolfpack have the arms to match up with the rest of these teams. I think it catches up with them in Omaha. UCLA's a bit of a darkhorse for me right now. That's all the teams I had in my Eight for Omaha today in Off the Bat, which you can read here at baseballamerica.com.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for your questions. We'll be back here next week to do this all again.