Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s Top 25 chat. It was a wild weekend of college baseball, so let’s get to your questions.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Is North Carolina the favorite now in the ACC going forward? Their younger players are contributing more and more, they have Bukasukas shutting down everyone so far on Friday nights, and Miller and Warmouth are anchoring the lineup very well so far.
Teddy Cahill: North Carolina, coming off a series sweep at Florida State, jumped to No. 4 in the ranking this week. I’m very impressed with the Tar Heels and moved them into my Eight for Omaha field this week. I would still call Louisville the ACC favorite, but maybe I shouldn’t given that UNC plays in the easier division. Those top three ACC teams (with Clemson thrown in as well) are all very good and any could win the title.
Mike Delatore (Ft Myers Florida): FGCU has been something of a media darling after a strong start this season but was exposed a little bit by a scrappy JU squad this weekend. Do they have the bullpen to contend late?
Teddy Cahill: I’ve been as much all over the FGCU story as anyone this year, but I think it was with pretty good reason. One weekend doesn’t really change that for me. Jacksonville is a good team. I know they’re under .500, but the Dolphins are better than their record. JU beat Florida, lost two one-run games to FSU and went 1-2 at West Virginia. The Dolphins are going to make some noise in the A-Sun. So, I wouldn’t get overly concerned with the two losses this weekend for FGCU. But it needs to make sure they don’t snowball, especially with two games in Tallahassee this week.
Lionel (Dallas): What a time to be an AU Tiger! Being objective, I think it's fair to say that we played USC to basically a draw this season in spite of the huge walk off homer Sunday. So had we come up short against USC, where would AU have been ranked today?
Teddy Cahill: Auburn was ranked No. 18 last week. Had Conor Davis not hit that stunning walk-off shot, the Tigers are probably still in pretty much the same spot this week. They’d be sitting at 6-3 in the SEC and a still very strong 4-2 record against Florida and South Carolina. Instead, Auburn is tied for first place in the SEC and shot up to No. 7. 5-1 against UF and SC was just too loud.
Brad (CT): How much of a contender is UConn on the national scene? They stumbled a little bit out of the gate but now Tim Cate looks healthy and they are back on track after sweeping ECU in Greenville.
Teddy Cahill: UConn’s start to the season has been impressive. The Huskies are 16-9 and have yet to play a home game. There are some solid results in there and this weekend’s sweep of East Carolina to start AAC play was big. UConn has a talented team, and Cate being back healthy is really big for them. With him and Montgomerie at the front of the rotation, the Huskies are tough to beat on weekends. I know it was just one weekend, but the AAC was so wild this weekend that the conference looks to be very much up for grabs. I can see UConn making some noise in the league this year.
Jason L (Pleasant Hill, CA): Very excited to see Texas A&M move Corbin Martin into their starting rotation. Can he stick there? His power arsenal seems to be a nice Saturday option behind Brigham Hill on Friday nights.
Teddy Cahill: Texas A&M is a better team if Martin can take on a spot in the rotation. I’ve always been skeptical of him as a starter because of his struggles with control, which showed up last weekend at Vanderbilt. But against LSU he was much better and only walked two in eight innings. If he can do that, he’s got incredible potential. But he’s going to have to prove he can do that consistently to lock down a rotation role.
Jeramey (Locust Grove Ga): Is it possible to get 3 ACC teams as National seeds? Louisville Clemson and UNC?
Teddy Cahill: It’s certainly possible. North Carolina and Clemson already have top five RPIs and Louisville is sitting at No. 13 and trending in the right direction. There are some RPI drags in the conference, however, and the ACC ranks fourth in conference RPI. So those three teams would need to avoid being pulled down by teams at the bottom of the conference. But, at this point, I can definitely see them all as national seeds.
Ben Wagener (Winston-Salem, NC): Clemson seems to be consistent with winning so far, but with their low batting average just over .270 and leaving too many runners on base, how can they stay in the top three tier in the ACC with the high-powered hitting and pitching of upcoming Louisville, NC, and upstart Wake?
Teddy Cahill: I think a lot of people had similar questions about Clemson last year — I know I did. The Tigers wound up winning the ACC Tournament and getting a national seed. But, maybe more to the point, I wouldn’t worry too much about the batting average. Clemson’s .390 OBP is solid and I don’t think you’ve seen the best of that offense yet. And with the Tigers pitching much improved this season, they don’t need to be the slugging team we thought they would have to be coming into the year. Additionally, the schedule sets up pretty well for the Tigers. Clemson hosts Louisville and Wake, and it’s trips to FSU and NC State look much more manageable now than they did coming into the season. In short, Clemson is going to be just fine despite a low batting average. Plenty of talent, both on the roster and on the coaching staff.
wayne718 (718): St Johns seems very unlikely to host unless they win 50 but barring any surprises they probably go in as 2 seed, where do you think the committee would send them as they would probably be one of the better 2's.
Teddy Cahill: The rest of St. John’s schedule is not conducive to maintaining it’s high RPI (which currently is No. 16). If the Red Storm dominate the Big East it might be enough to get a host, especially since they would provide geographic diversity. But if the committee acts like it did last season, it’s going to be really hard for St. John’s. If it didn’t host, the closest sites are probably going to be in the Carolinas. So maybe they get sent there, though there are obviously plenty of other options to fill those regionals. They could really get sent anywhere, and the west is probably going to be lacking on No. 2 seeds that aren’t from the Big West or Pac-12.
Steven Bradley (Oklahoma): Has OU gained respect around the country despite their weak early non conference schedule ?
Teddy Cahill: Oklahoma’s in the top 10 now. To me, that would certainly be evidence that the Sooners have “gained respect.”
College Fan (East Coast): Is any team doing less with more--underachieving relative to its talent level--than Vanderbilt right now? So many top 100 recruits and All-Americans. Very little to show for it.
Teddy Cahill: Vanderbilt actually only had two Preseason All-Americans this year, fwiw. Obviously the results haven’t been there this year and it’s been a little confusing, frankly. But this is what can happen with young teams.
Chris (Rogers, AR): With the Hogs winning their first three SEC series, I am still a bit concerned with their ability to pitch against tougher opponents. Knight isn't the worry, it's Stephan on Saturday and Alberius and everyone else pitching on Sunday. Your thoughts on them going forward?
Teddy Cahill: Arkansas’ pitching depth is a bit of a concern. It’s hard to sustain the injuries the Razorbacks have this year and keep rolling. They’re definitely going to have to keep hitting. That’s their strength this year and it’s carried them pretty well so far. But the schedule is a somewhat backloaded with @ Auburn, Ole Miss. @ Tennessee, Vanderbilt, @ Texas A&M in the second half of SEC play. Arkansas’ going to have to be ready for a tough stretch there.
Wakefan (NC): Does Wake Forest have a chance to host this year? Thoughts on them?
Teddy Cahill: There’s a chance, sure. With Florida State and Miami struggling, the ACC’s hosting race is more open. Wake’s RPI is No. 15 right now and if it can maintain that and hang tough in the Atlantic Division, it would be in good shape. But Virginia isn’t far behind, and with the ACC a bit down this year, it’s more than likely not going to have six hosts again this season.
Chris Furnish (Morehead Ky): Is anyone watching Morehead State? When will they get a little love? I know they aren't in a power 5 conference but 17-1 in last 18 with a win at Miss St. and one of the best offensive teams in America with a legit Friday night starter.
Teddy Cahill: Morehead State and Tennessee Tech (23-7, 12-0) have both been very impressive in the Ohio Valley Conference this season. It’s a shame we have to wait until the last weekend of the regular season to see them play.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Do you prefer McKay the hitter or McKay the pitcher as a pro?
Teddy Cahill: I am in the pitcher camp. I definitely see why people talk about him as a hitter – he’s really good at that too. But I feel a lot more comfortable talking a lefthander that could be in the big leagues quickly than taking a college first baseman who hasn’t hit for big-time power and has questions about his athleticism. Ultimately, I think it’s more of a philosophical choice. I would love to see him get the chance to continue playing both ways this summer in pro ball and then evaluate which path to take in the offseason.
Mike (San Francisco): Ted, how long can the Beavers keep this up? Do you think they're equipped to go the distance and maybe even go all the way? As a Beaver fan I'm definitely excited about their start, but the last time we were the #1 overall seed a few years ago, it didn't work out so well...Thoughts?
Teddy Cahill: Well, they’re not going to go undefeated the rest of the way. But Oregon State is incredibly talented in all facets of the game. And presumably Drew Rasmussen will provide another boost when he returns later in the spring. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the early postseason exit a few years ago. This team should be pretty hungry after the way last season ended. Could they win the national title? Absolutely. That’s a really good team out in Corvallis.
Pauly (USA): Are the Richmond University players back playing? Seems very strange that they punish these kids for fantasy sports but a major university has a major academic fraud scandal and theres been no punishment.
Teddy Cahill: The Richmond players return this Friday, as was reported last week. https://www.baseballamerica.com/college/four-richmond-players-to-be-reinstated/ Presumably, you’re alluding to the UNC scandal as well. While the NCAA’s response to that has been confusing, at best, there’s really no comparison between the two cases. One is a very small, isolated incident. The other is a sprawling scandal that allegedly went on for years at the university and involved many, many people in multiple sports. And, to top that off, the university is fighting the NCAA every step of the way. That kind of investigation is just going to take a while to unfold (not saying it should have taken the six years that this one has, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect it to be wrapped up quickly, either).
Josh (Olive Branch,MS): If Southern Miss keeps up this run through the rest of the year how high do you think they can climb in the rankings and what do you think their record could be at the end of the year if you had to guess? How far of a run do you think they have the potential to make in the post season?
Teddy Cahill: Southern Miss’ schedule is light on marquee series, which probably puts a limit on how high the Golden Eagles can climb in the rankings, but you never know. It’s a strong team that can make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. Winning a regional certainly seems possible with that offense and some talented arms in the rotation. And if they do that, you never know how far a team can go.
Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks for all the questions. And, as always, if I didn’t get to yours in the chat, leave it in the comments and I’ll come back and answer it there.