College Top 25 Chat (April 2, 2018)

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s college baseball chat. It was a wild weekend around the country and we have a new No. 1 team, as Florida returns to the top of the rankings. Let’s get to your questions.

Alex (Miami):

    Thank you for the chat, Is it the Gators and everyone else?

Teddy Cahill: For me, yes. Florida is the clear cut best team in the country. That’s the best rotation, the pitching staff is deeper this year, the offense is rolling and, as usual, they’re fielding at a very high level. Once Florida beat Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon to clinch the series, I had planned to argue the Gators for No. 1 regardless of how the Utah-Oregon State rubber game turned out. This run of six straight wins against top-10 teams is just so impressive. Florida will probably drop a series somewhere – it happens – but that’s your national title favorite.

Matt (Portland, OR):

    How concerned should Beaver Nation be after this weekend?

Teddy Cahill: Some, for sure, but I still think this is a really good team. The pitching staff hasn’t been in peak form for a few weeks and it caught up to the Beavers this weekend. Utah can be a tough place to pitch and I still like the Beavers’ staff, but it’s also not what it was last year. So Oregon State is going to have to find a way to win in a few different ways. In the long run, I think the Beavers will be just fine, but this is a more mortal Oregon State team than what you saw last year.

Will (Greenville NC):

    Another weekend with a opening game beat down followed by two impressive wins for East Carolina. This team shows some resilience. Has East Carolina faced the two best opponents they will see in the AAC this year? Also, how important are the midweek games ECU has this month against Duke and NC State?

Teddy Cahill: The American is so tough to figure out. I’m still not sure how good South Florida is and ECU still hasn’t seen the league’s top arms – Shane McClanahan, Tim Cate and Trey Cumbie. UCF and Wichita State may be the two best opponents in conference play, but that conference is so compact that I’m not comfortable saying that right now. The midweeks later this month are nice from an RPI standpoint, but ECU already ranks 10th in RPI, so it doesn’t really need the help. In terms of hosting, the most important thing for ECU is to keep rolling in conference play and clearly establish itself as the American’s best team.

Burke Lyle (Athens Georgia):

    UGA took 2-3 this weekend. On another poll they were at 24. Can they host a regional if they play .500 the rest of way? I know the schedule is always hard in the SEC.

Teddy Cahill: If Georgia plays .500 the rest of the way it will probably have the RPI to host. Then you have to look at where the Bulldogs would be in the conference standings. The SEC is probably going to get five or six hosts this year. Is going .500 the rest of the way enough to get UGA into the top 2-3 in the East? 17 SEC wins probably gets that done, but it would probably be close. If it is, Georgia might be hosting for the first time in a decade.

Tyler (Loganville, GA):

    Good afternoon Teddy, I know there is still over half the conference season to go, but is it possible Auburn could be in trouble to host a regional considering their struggles the last 2 weekends and still having conference series left against Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Vandy and LSU? Thank you

Teddy Cahill: Auburn is definitely no lock to host. We had them hosting last week in our first Field of 64 projection, but that may change when we update that this week. The SEC West alone is a bear and when you throw in series against UF and Vandy, that’s a really tough second half for Auburn. The Tigers still could do it, but they’re going to have to hit better than they have the last two weeks.

Aaron (Dallas):

    With a slow start to Big 12 play for Texas Tech, are they still the favorites to win the conference?

Teddy Cahill: Yes, I would still regard Texas Tech as the Big 12 favorite. I think the series loss at Baylor will ultimately amount to a hiccup against a solid team at the end of a long road trip. The schedule is favorable to the Red Raiders as well, with both Oklahoma and Texas coming to Lubbock. I really like the Sooners, but they have yet to prove they can win outside of Norman and Rip Griffin Park is a really tough place to play. I think it’ll be a close Big 12 race again this season.

Edgar (Little Rock):

    Arkansas definitely went through the most difficult stretch anyone has these past 2 weeks. How concerned should Arkansas fans be? If they are a title contender like everybody thought preseason, shouldn’t they have at least clutched one of those series out? What do they need to fix

Teddy Cahill: I’m not concerned at all. Arkansas lost four road games to Florida and Ole Miss – two really, really good teams – and three of those losses came by one run. In both series the Hogs had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning of the rubber game. Would it have been better if Arkansas had won one of those series? Of course. But that’s a really good team that on back-to-back weekends went toe-to-toe with two of the best teams in the country. Now, if Arkansas doesn’t take care of business at Baum this weekend against Auburn, my opinion may change. But right now? Arkansas is fine. That’s still an Omaha team.

Derek (Austin Tx):

    Will Texas ever be Texas again and return to Omaha anytime soon? Furthermore, is David Pierce the guy to get it done on the 40 acres or will new AD Chris Del Conte be finding a new guy after next season? I don’t see this Texas team hosting a regional and I’m not convinced they even make a regional. Thoughts?

Teddy Cahill: I know Teas fans don’t want to hear this, but remember that the Longhorns very nearly missed regionals in back-to-back years before Pierce took over. The program was not in a spectacular spot. Getting it back to being *Texas* was always going to take some time. I don’t think the Longhorns will host this year, but I feel pretty confident about them making regionals. And I think the program is on a good trajectory moving forward.

Chad (Gainesville, Fl):

    Do you think JJ Schwartz is a liability for Florida at catcher?? He has only thrown out a couple runners this year and Vandy was a great running team but just couldn’t get on base with our solid pitching. Against a team that’s aggressive on the bases, I think Florida could be in trouble.

Teddy Cahill: If the catcher’s arm is the biggest area of concern for your team, I think you’ll be all right.

Jeremy Harris (Shawnee, OK):

    So are the Sooners for real. They’ve had a heavy home slate thus far and have struggled some in midweek games. However they do have a legit ace in Jake Irvin. Having said that how does he not make the Top 10 right handers? Is he close?

Teddy Cahill: I like Jake Irvin a lot, but he’s not a top-50 pick. Everyone on that list (which was based on draft status) has that potential. I see Irvin more in rounds 3-5 right now.

Jeff (Los Angeles):

    Why has it taken so long to recognize Georgia with the SEC series wins, including a sweep of USC, that they’ve had this year? And with all that they’ve done on the field this year, how is Kentucky still ranked, much less ahead of UGA after yet another series loss?

Teddy Cahill: Georgia got swept at College of Charleston. That has held it back for weeks. Add to that series that Georgia started the SEC slate with series against Alabama and South Carolina – neither of which are projected to make regionals – and you have them not breaking through to the Top 25 until this week. As for Kentucky, the Wildcats have two top-10 series wins against Texas Tech and Auburn. Those are both better than anything Georgia has on its resume so far.

Silas (Jackson, MS):

    At the halfway point in the season who do you guys project as the 8 most likely teams to make it to Omaha and why?

Teddy Cahill: I project an Eight for Omaha every Monday in Off the Bat. This week’s is Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky Mississippi, Oregon State, Stanford and Texas Tech. You can read the explanation here:

Purple4Life (Durham):

    With the state of North Carolina having a lot of quality teams, can the committee reward ECU, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke with regional hosts? And if So does ECU and NC State grab Top 8 seeds?

Teddy Cahill: The committee doesn’t care how many host sites it puts in one part of the country. That era is over. So, theoretically, all of those North Carolina schools could host. It’s unlikely that they all will, but we projected three NC hosts last week in our Field of 64 and all three of those teams will probably be projected as hosts again this week.

Derek (Durham):

    Duke been playing at an elite level over the first half of the year but with a very difficult ACC schedule remaining do you think they can keep the pace they are going?

Teddy Cahill: No, Duke will not go 46-10. But I do really like the Blue Devils and I think they can be in contention for the ACC title all season. The schedule is about to get tougher, but that’s a solid team that is full of veterans and does a lot of little things well. And they’ve done this well without really hitting their stride offensively. Coach Chris Pollard said he likes where the lineup is right now and Griffin Conine is starting to get on track. If the Blue Devils can keep that going, that would be a big development for them in the second half.

Jordan (Hattiesburg):

    What does Southern Miss have to do to host?

Teddy Cahill: Win a lot of games. There’s almost no margin for error in Southern Miss’ schedule. CUSA ranks 12th in conference RPI and is doing Southern Miss no favors this season. The Golden Eagles are going to have one more top-100 series this season – against Louisiana Tech at the end of May. Mississippi State’s downfall isn’t helping Southern Miss, either. The Golden Eagles rank No. 39 in RPI and will probably need to pull that number up ~15 spots. It’s going to be close. I think Southern Miss needs to really dominate CUSA again this season.

Dan (Oxford):

    Best pitching staff other than Florida?

Teddy Cahill: Don’t make me pick between Ole Miss and Stanford.

Brad (Cupertino, CA):

    What is your perception of Stanford’s bullpen with Palisch and Little closing out games? Do you think it’s starting to round into elite form? Also, what are your early thoughts with the next series at UCLA? Lastly, do you see Stanford having an advantage over Oregon State when they match up with how OSU’s staff is struggling and Stanford has one of the best staffs in the country?

Teddy Cahill: I would give Stanford the edge on the mound against Oregon State right now, but that series isn’t for six more weeks. A to can happen between now and then. As for this weekend, it’s hard to pick against Stanford right now. It’s going to be a low-scoring series and UCLA has home-field advantage, but Stanford is ranked No. 3 for a reason. The Cardinal are really tough to beat any weekend they roll out Beck, Bubic and Miller.

Eric Simmons (Thornton Colorado):

    Should Scott Stricklin of Georgia be a coach of the year candidate?

Teddy Cahill: At this point, sure. But it’s nearly impossible to win Coach of the Year without going to Omaha. So it’s hard to handicap this far out. But Stricklin has done well with this young Bulldogs team. Georgia has come a long way over the last year.

Bryan (Jacksonville, FL):

    Where do you project Michael Byrne going in the draft and does he project as a starter at he next level???

Teddy Cahill: This is a tough one to figure. He’s probably somewhere around rounds 6-7. He profiles better as a starter than a reliever, but he’s also been so good in the bullpen that a team may keep him there. One thing is for sure: He’s a huge part of the reason Florida won the national title last year and is the No. 1 team in the country right now. His emergence as closer has completely changed the complexion of that bullpen.

Ramblin (Atlanta):

    Is Georgia Tech creeping into the field of 64 discussion with their 4-0 week, including a sweep of Miami? UGA and Florida State this week gives them a chance for more quality wins. Would 2-2 be a good week?

Teddy Cahill: Yes to both. Georgia Tech is up to 17-11, is .500 in the league and is into the top 40 in RPI. It was a really good week for the Yellow Jackets. This week is a tough one, but, as you noted, a chance to pick up some premium wins. I like Georgia Tech’s schedule down the stretch as well. Very manageable over the last few weekends.

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for their questions. Hard to believe we’re reaching the halfway point of the season. Looking forward to another couple exciting months of baseball.

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