College Top 25 Chat (April 16, 2018)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. We had another outstanding weekend of college baseball around the country. A lot of dramatic, high-profile series made some big impacts on conference races. You have questions, so we'll get started.
Russell (Austin, TX):
- Hey Teddy, After winning the series against the Sooners, (which was huge). Do you think there chances of winning the Big 12 comes down the their last series against Texas Tech? I know they still have West Virginia and TCU left, but how do you think they will do throughout the rest of the season?
Teddy Cahill: One of those dramatic, high-profile series with big conference title implications was the Red River Rivalry. This was a great matchup in Norman and Texas comes out of it in a strong position. I think that, yes, the Big 12 race is coming down to the wire this year. Four teams - Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech - are all very much in the mix. The Sooners slipped up this weekend, but if they bounce back the next two weeks against the Red Raiders and Cowboys, they're right back in the driver's seat. Texas can't afford to lose focus over the next month. But I like this Longhorns team. I think it's a solid mix - strong defensively and on the mound and getting enough timely hitting. I think they've grown a lot as a team over the last couple months. Also, you can read more about Texas today in Off the Bat https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/off-the-bat-red-river-showdown-beavers-get-back/
- Do you have any ETA for the return of Madigral?
Teddy Cahill: Let's get this out of the way: no. I spoke with Pat Casey this weekend and he said it's day-to-day with Madrigal. There's a chance he's back this weekend and Casey said they're pleased with his progress, but they just have to see how he feels.
Matt (College Station, TX):
- What led to Texas A&M staying put at #22 while beating a Texas team that jumped them from #24 to #20 and getting a sweep over Alabama?
Teddy Cahill: Texas went on the road and won a series against a ranked opponent and now has the most wins in the Big 12. While I think Texas A&M is trending in a very encouraging direction, sweeping Alabama this weekend is not as impressive.
- What will it take for St.John's to re-enter the Top 25? Are they a lock for a NCAA Berth or do they need to win the conference Tourney?
Teddy Cahill: St. John's has played really well over the last few weeks, but it's still an uphill battle back to the Top 25. It lost three series to solid competition in Kansas, Connecticut and Minnesota. But with Minnesota and UConn now positioned on the edge of the Top 25 themselves, it's hard to rank St. John's over them. Those are also three of the four best teams St. John's has played on a weekend and it doesn't look great that it lost three of its toughest series. As for the tournament, St. John's is probably going to be in bubble territory all year. Mostly it needs to keep avoiding bad losses at this point. Winning the Big East convincingly might be enough for an at-large, but it's going to be close, I think.
- What's up with Wake Forest? Can they somehow get into the NCAA. Their weekend pitchers are nasty.
Teddy Cahill: Wake Forest just isn't very deep on the mound and dug itself a huge hole at the start of the year. I've said before that I think the Deacs have left themselves with too much to do to get in the tournament. They've had a couple good weekends, but I still feel that way. There's a path for them, but aside from beating a bad Boston College team this weekend, they haven't done anything on the road this season. They will have to find a way to correct that at Georgia Tech and North Carolina State if they're going to get back to regionals.
- Did East Carolina lose the opportunity of getting a top 8 National seed this weekend? Also, am I safe to assume they are still in the hosting discussion?
Teddy Cahill: I don't think it's that cut and dried, but this was not a good weekend for ECU. I think it makes it hard for the Pirates to decisively win the American, which will hurt it from a top-eight seed perspective. ECU also needs to win a LOT to maintain the RPI it would need for a top-eight seed. But I don't think losing this series means that's all gone. It just really cut away a lot of the margin for error. As for hosting, yes, ECU still is looking good for that, but it was a tough weekend from that perspective as well. ECU is still in a good spot RPI wise, but it's case gets a lot stronger with a conference title and the Pirates just got sucked into the American's morass. It needs to make hay the next four weeks when it's playing the conference's four worst RPI teams.
SCOTT (GREENVILLE SC):
- Will the Gamecocks make the ncaa's???
Teddy Cahill: Our projections all year have been pretty consistent in saying no. And unless South Carolina starts winning SEC series, that's not going to change. The good news is that it's all still out there for the Gamecocks. South Carolina still has series against LSU, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Go .500 against those teams and win the home series at home against Missouri and South Carolina is probably in the mix. But I'm not going to expect the Gamecocks to do that having won three of their last 15 SEC series.
4th Street (Hattiesburg):
- Should Southern Miss fans be worried about an at-large bid? Resume isn't great - RPI #55, 2-6 top 50.
Teddy Cahill: Maybe? It's kind of crazy we've gotten to this point, but it's been a bad couple weeks for Southern Miss. Win the Conference USA regular season and I don't think it's an issue unless the RPI moves even further south - which it certainly could. But Southern Miss has to stop going 2-1 against bad teams and there are a lot more of those on the schedule. Conference USA is loaded with RPI anchors this year and Southern Miss' nonconference schedule isn't doing it any favors with Mississippi State disappointing and a home series against Tennessee-Martin replacing a neutral site tournament due to bad weather.
- With Tennessee tech (29-5) (17-1) in conference, and riding a 20 game win streak why aren’t they in the top 25 I know their conference isn’t the hardest but it’s not the weakest
Teddy Cahill: We've talked about ranking Tennessee Tech each of the last two weeks. I'm sympathetic to the fact they've won 29 games - only Florida and Duke have won more this season. The 20-game winning streak is really, really impressive. It's not Tennessee Tech's fault it plays in the conference it does, but it is somewhat limiting. The Ohio Valley ranks 19th (out of 31) in conference RPI - and that's with Tennessee Tech propping it up. The Golden Eagles are right there in the mix, but when you start stacking resumes up against teams like Illinois and Minnesota and Auburn, we've felt like Tennessee Tech has fallen short. It was a very close call this week, however, and you have to be impressed by the run they're on right now.
- The AAC looks strong and competitive this year. I have 5 AAC teams in the post-season (ECU, Wichita, UCONN, USF, and UCF). What are the chances all 5 get in or will P5 bias not allow it?
Teddy Cahill: Five teams is possible. We've been consistently at four from the American in our projections all season. UCF's RPI is lacking right now and it has time to correct it still, but it also has little margin for error. If the American only gets four bids, this is not a case of the Power Five keeping you down or whatever. It's hard for any league outside of the SEC and ACC to put more than half its teams in the field - just ask the Big 12 and Pac-12. And in the American's case it's carrying a couple RPI anchors this year. Memphis being as bad as its been is a problem. Even Cincinnati is an issue. The Bearcats are solid and playing like it in conference action, but they still have a 150+ RPI. So when they take a game at UCF, that becomes a real issue for the Knights. If the American only gets four teams in the tournament it will be because its depth is lacking this season, even though it's again shaping up to be one of the more competitive conference races.
College Baseball Takeaways: Three Top-Five Teams Fall At Home
Top-five teams Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Arkansas were all upended at home Friday, with Texas Tech, Louisville and Vanderbilt all notching important wins.
Jason (St Louis, MO):
- Razorback/SEC fan here, do you think anyone can beat the Florida Gators? They haven't lost a season series yet and have lost only 3 games since early March. They took 2 of 3 from my Hogs less than a month ago. What do you think of their odds for the CWS? Hands-down favorites?
Teddy Cahill: As good as I think Florida is - and I think it's really, really, really good - getting through the SEC without a series loss would be a tall order. This weekend at Kentucky will be a tough one for UF, which hasn't won a series in Lexington since 2012. And it still has a series at Texas A&M to come. If it's going to happen, it'll probably be in one of those two road trips. I can't see anyone beating the Gators in Gainesville. For me, that's the best team in the country. I don't find it to be particularly close either. Definitely clear-cut national championship favorites, but I've thought that for about a full year now.
phil (washington, dc):
- Michigan's won 17 in a row after a slow start. Any love?
Teddy Cahill: For sure. It's been a great run for the Wolverines. That's a really young team that went through some real growing pains during the first few weeks, when Michigan was playing a pretty tough schedule on the road. And now they're rolling. I can't say that I'm surprised that Erik Bakich has gotten it turned around. There's a lot of talent on that roster. The Wolverines should keep this streak going a bit longer, too. Michigan gets Penn State at home next and the Nittany Lions have won a total of four games since Opening Weekend. Things get a little harder from there, however, with a road trip to Iowa the following weekend.
- Okay Teddy, time to call it like it is: my Clemson Tigers are mired in a perfect storm of mediocrity - lousy team batting averages, erratic bull pen, bone headed fielding and let's not forget some questionable coaching decisions. The ship may not need to be righted yet but we are taking on water. Your thoughts on directions we need to be considering before tournament time which is looming around the corner?
Teddy Cahill: I'm not sure what to make of Clemson. It's lost two series all year - and they've both been at home. The Tigers had one of the top lineups on paper coming into the year - and haven't hit for the last month. The starting pitching was supposed to be the team's weakness - and has carried the Tigers. I think, in general, the ACC is full of a bunch of ok teams and while I thought Clemson was above that pack, this weekend's result makes me question that a bit. As for what's looming around the corner, I don't see anything particularly difficult. Wake and Virginia are tough, but both are beatable. They're where they are in the ACC race for a reason. Florida State is struggling itself right now. This is a manageable run in for the Tigers. But they need to start playing better to take advantage of it.
Nick (north carolina):
- what a big week of baseball on tobacco road,how do you see this week and weekend unfolding,ECU VS Duke and UNC VS NC State in a non conference game,the GA Tech at UNC and NC State at Duke this weekend.
Teddy Cahill: I'm not picking midweek baseball games, but those two should be fun matchups. North Carolina has been playing really well of late and has home-field advangage - it should handle Georgia Tech. The Duke vs. North Carolina State showdown is a fascinating one. I'll give Duke the edge because it will be played at Coombs Stadium, which should be big enough to contain NC State's power. I think the Blue Devils matchup pretty well with the Wolfpack and can finally be the team to make NC State pay for its subpar Friday performances.
- The Big 12 race tightened up alot over the weekend at the top. Who do you have with Tech/OU in Lubbock this weekend?
Teddy Cahill: It should be a fun matchup this weekend between Texas Tech's hitters and Oklahoma's arms and it has huge implications in the Big 12 race. That said, how can anyone pick against Texas Tech at Rip Griffin Park? The Red Raiders are 19-1 at home this season. I like this Oklahoma team a lot as I've said all season long, but Texas Tech is just really hard to beat at home.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for the questions. We'll be back to do this all again next week, but make sure to check back here at BaseballAmerica.com throughout the week for plenty of college coverage until then.