Top 25 Chat

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s college baseball chat. It’s an incredibly busy week, with the release of the bracket, the season ending for the other 236 teams and the draft a little more than a week away. So let’s get to your questions.

Joshua (Charlotte): Did Southern Miss and Coastal Carolina get snubbed out of a regional bid more because of RPI or the fact that other regionals where going to draw larger attendance. (South Carolina, Virginia, Oxford)
Teddy Cahill: The committee went straight RPI for the 16 hosts — with the exception of No. 12 Coastal Carolina. In its place, the committee went with No. 17 Virginia. So for Southern Mississippi, it is fair to say RPI was the reason – but blowing the CUSA regular season title on the final weekend of the regular didn’t help their case. For Coastal, however, RPI is not the answer. Committee chairman Joel Erdmann said yesterday that Coastal getting swept at Georgia Tech weighed heavily on their mind. I don’t think attendance was the reason. Coastal does draw pretty well. I think the reason has more to do with Coastal being in a less challenging league. The only host outside the ACC, Big 12 or SEC was Louisiana-Lafayette, which won the Sun Belt, the No. 10 RPI conference. The Big South ranked No. 17, putting it in the bottom half of all leagues. Incidentally, Coastal is leaving the Big South for the Sun Belt this summer.

Joshua (Charlotte NC): Will the committee every wise up and stop pairing teams like Clemson/South Carolina, Texas A&M/TCU, Vandy/Louisville or Florida/FL State together. How about some more unique super regional match ups to help grow the game nationally instead of keeping the super regionals local.
Teddy Cahill: I’m not sure that splitting up rivalries would grow the game nationally – especially given that all 16 regional hosts are south of the Ohio River and East of the Rockies. Honestly, this year, putting those rivalries together might be what’s best for the game since TV can sell those supers better than, say, Florida-TCU. But I do wish there was more diversity in the super regional matchups. The answer is to seed the 16 hosts, which they really should be doing. Do that and you don’t have to worry about whether Florida and Florida State are matched up for umpteenth time. Because if it did happen, at least it would be because those two schools happened to fall into those two spots on the committee’s ranking.

john (new york): What national seed will have the hardest test? What 4 seed would you not want to play if you were a coach in the regionals?
Teddy Cahill: I think Louisville, the No. 2 national seed, landed the hardest regional of the top eight teams. Ohio State, the 2 seed, is incredibly hot coming into the NCAA Tournament having won the Big Ten Tournament and nearly chased down Minnesota for the regular season championship on the final weekend of the regular season. Wright State, the 3, reached a regional final last year and may be better this season. And while Western Michigan finished under .500, the Broncos have Keegan Akin at the front of their rotation. You’ll hear his name called pretty early in the draft next week. Becaue of Akin, Western Michigan is one of the 4s I wouldn’t have wanted in my regional. Rhode Island, with Tyler Wilson, and Navy, with Luke Gillingham, fit into the same mold. Utah, the Pac-12 champion, is a very difficult 4. They might not have the depth – that’s part of the reason the Utes were under .500 overall – but they play well on the weekends – that’s why they won the Pac-12. And Alabama State is a good all-around team that has a win against Tennessee this season and has a great coach in Mervyl Melendez.

Brett (NY): Which 3 seed do you see having the best chance to advance past the first weekend? What about 4?
Teddy Cahill: I ran off the best 4 seeds in the previous answer. If I had to pick one to win, I’d probably say Alabama State. Utah is right there too, but has a tougher draw with Mississippi, Tulane and Boston College forming one of the best regionals. Alabama State was drawn with Florida State, Southern Miss and South Alabama — all very good teams, but they haven’t been as good down the stretch. The 4s likely all go home, but those are the two I would watch. As for the 3s, several could make noise this week, but I’ll say East Carolina is most likely to make super regionals. ECU is in Charlottesville, where it won a series earlier this year against Virginia, along with Bryant and William & Mary. The Pirates haven’t played great in May, but they can potentially come out of that regional.

John (Louisiana): Which #1 is ripe to be picked off?
Teddy Cahill: North Carolina State. The Wolfpack are banged up, havnen’t played great down the stretch and got drawn into one of the toughest regionals. NC State will have its hands full in the first game with Navy and Gillingham. Coastal Carolina is one of the better 2s on the board and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Chants win this one. And St. Mary’s can pitch. So the Wolfpack will have to play well this week.

Chris Gardner (Portland, Oregon): Why do 10 teams in the ACC get in, 3 of whom had losing conference records. You're telling me that there's 10 teams in that conference better than Oregon State. Please!! I love how over 70% of their teams get in but 36% of PAC-12 teams get in. It's ridiculous how year in and year out somebody always decides that the ACC and SEC are always the toughest leagues. When they beat each other up it's just a "tough league" but when the PAC-12 beats each other up it's just a "down year." I believe the PAC-12 is the only power five conference where you play every team in the league so you can't miss any teams. Even when it is a good year the PAC-12 is lucky to get 6 teams in. The politics involved in the committee are ridiculous. Key instance is that Washington's coach is the PAC-12 representative and his team got in with a lower RPI than OSU and a lesser overall record with only one more victory in conference than the Beavers. Oh and by the way the Beavers took the series head to head as well. Also the fact that South Alabama got in over Oregon State, really. Smell test or eye test alone should knock that one out. Oh wait their AD was the Committee head. Smells fishy to me. It's criminal that the PAC-12 gets hosed year in and year out in baseball. In all honesty it doesn't just happen in that sport it's also football. I will agree that the PAC-12 was down some but not that much.
Teddy Cahill: All right, I’ll clear a couple things first – 1) I thought Oregon State got snubbed and 2) everyone in the Big 12 plays everyone. But to the larger point, the Pac-12 was not elite this year. It just wasn’t. Utah won the league with an overall record under .500. This is not a case of really good Pac-12 teams beating up on each other. It’s a case of mediocre teams beating up on each other, as typically happens with mediocre teams. I hate to say it, but the Beavers put themselves in this situation when they lost that series to Washington State. Win a series against the last-place team in the league and they finish in second place and are in the tournament. There are other ways they could have avoided it, but losing back-to-back games in Pullman was ugly (and yes I know UW did it too. But the Huskies found a way to play for the Pac-12 title on the final day of the season).

Terrence (USA): Is there a Stony Brook in this year's field? I know you mentioned Alabama State.
Teddy Cahill: So hard to identify a team like that. I do like Alabama State, but I wouldn’t predict the Hornets to make it to Omaha. I mentioned East Carolina as a 3 I liked, and I’ll also throw out Gonzaga, which has a legit ace in Brandon Bailey and has a ton of experience on the road this season, and Sam Houston State and Louisiana Tech, which closed strongly. But the reason teams such as Fresno State, Stony Brook and Kent State were so special is because that doesn’t happen much.

Eric (Santa Barbara, CA): Which West coast team(s) has/have the best chance of breaking through this year's southern dominance?
Teddy Cahill: Fullerton may have been the best team out West this season, but typically doesn’t do well in road regionals. So I’ll say Arizona. The Wildcats have been up and down, but I think they can win the Lafayette regional. They have done well on the road this season and Jay Johnson has done a really good job of keeping that team focused on one game at a time.

jb (SC): Can Clemson stay hot and make it to Omaha in year 1 of the Monte Lee era?
Teddy Cahill: Clemson has been playing incredibly well for a month. The draw sets up pretty well for them. They’ve already beaten South Carolina (the No. 1 they’d be paired with for supers) in a series this season. It’s all there for the Tigers to do. The pitching remains the biggest question for the Tigers, but that’s a team that we could see in the College World Series.

Tabor (Lubbock): What's your outlook for Texas Tech in the tourney? Home field advantage will be huge but DUB and New Mexico - who we played 3 times this season- will be tough.
Teddy Cahill: I’ve had Texas Tech in my Eight for Omaha for about a month now. I still think that’s where I see them – playing in the College World Series. DBU is a solid team – we put them into our Top 25 this week – and New Mexico can hit. And Virginia is a tough potential matchup in supers, but the Red Raiders are a really good team.

Terrence (USA): Who's the best pitcher/player in this year's tournament who you haven't seen with your own eyes?
Teddy Cahill: Corbin Burnes at St. Mary’s is the best pitcher. FAU shortstop C.J. Chatham is the best player.

Teddy Cahill: Thanks for all your questions today. It’s an exciting, if exhausting time of year. If I didn’t get to your question, leave it in the comments and I’ll try to come back and answer there.

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