College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

 Q:  Harry from San Jose, Ca. asks:
First off, you do a great job with these chats- I love 'em! What do think Gonzaga's chances are of getting an at-large bid if they lose the WCC playoff to San Diego? To me, the WCC deserves 3 teams. Also, who do you think will win the series between San Diego and Gonzaga? San Diego had its hands full all weekend with Santa Clara losing once and winning 2 very close games.

Aaron Fitt: Hello everybody, welcome to the Top 25 chat. Three Strikes should be posted on the college blog pretty soon, and it deals some with the Gonzaga question. My gut right now says that the Zags are in, thanks largely to weekend series victories against San Diego and at Pepperdine. The 7-5 record in Weekend Series isn't very good, however, and the 33-21 overall record is nothing special. Winning that championship series at USD is going to be a tall order. The Toreros are an awfully good team, and they'll be at home and hungry for revenge against the only team that beat them in conference this year.

 Q:  John from Tempe, Arizona asks:
Do you think Matt Spencer from ASU has solidified himself as a potential 1st or 1st supplemental Round type player. He played amazing against UCLA this weekend with a 9-12 effort and pretty much did it all on Saturday with 2 HR's and game winning RBI single as well as pitched. What about Sogard, Kiel Roling and Tim Smith, where do you think they will be drafted?

Aaron Fitt: That's a huge weekend for Spencer, no doubt, but there's no way he goes in the first couple of rounds -- the bat has just been too inconsistent. His tools are very impressive -- serious raw power, but it's still largely untapped, and he runs well, and he's got arm strength. He just needs to put it all together for an extended period -- at times he gets anxious and jumpy at the plate. Sogard is definitely a top-five-rounds guy, and Roling and Smith have both improved their stock with solid seasons. There are some questions about Roling's catch-and-throw skills, but his bat figures to play even if he has to move to a corner. Smith has good athleticism and a mature offensive approach -- I think he'll go pretty well, perhaps a top-five-rounds type as well.

 Q:  Todd from Columbia, SC asks:
What does Clemson need to do after sweeping FSU to host a regional? Will it depend on what happens with Coastal Carolina now that South Carolina has wrapped up at least a regional host?

Aaron Fitt: I think it probably does depend on Coastal -- I think the state of South Carolina is probably unlikely to get three regional sites. South Carolina is a safe bet, and I think Coastal is more deserving of hosting than Clemson is, but I think the Chanticleers still need to win the Big South to do that, and Winthrop is nipping at their heels. Clemson also needs to finish strong, and that probably means winning that series at NC State next weekend and making some noise in the ACC tourney. Winning the FSU series put Clemson back in the hosting discussion, but a number of things still have to fall into place for it to happen.

 Q:  Josh from Sacramento asks:
What is your take on the Dirtbags? 10-4 on weekend series' winning their last 6 series in a row. Playing UC Riverside this weekend with the Big West title most likely to be decided, but still have Fullerton after that. A national seed in mind if they do well over their next 7 games or is that too much to ask?

Aaron Fitt: You know, I haven't given much thought to the Dirtbags as a national seed, but if they win the Riverside series and the Fullerton series, they'll probably be worthy of that. The RPI is likely to be a factor in that discussion, and LBSU's RPI was No. 9 in last week's release. That might give Long Beach an advantage over Arizona State if it comes down to those two teams competing for the final national seed, but I still give Arizona State the edge if it holds on to win the Pac-10.

 Q:  James from Rome,WI asks:
Aaron-I have my plane ticket, hotel, rental car, and tickets for Omaha. Who am I going to see in the 2007 CWS??? (By the way it this will be the 8th year in a row I have traveled from WI to NE to see the CWS)

Aaron Fitt: Hm, I haven't done an updated eight for Omaha in a while, so let's give it a whirl: Vanderbilt, Rice, Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona State, Texas -- those are my safe picks. Here are my two sleepers: Clemson, my preseason national title pick, and Oregon State, my preseason "sleeper" pick. Both teams will get hot and ride deep pitching staffs to Omaha. Or maybe I'm clutching at straws...

 Q:  Mike from Austin asks:
Over the last month, Vandy is 14-5 (accounting for half of their season's losses), while an unnamed team behind (right behind) them are 11-1 for the same stretch against similar levels of competition. I understand the philosophy of "2-1 is a weekend series win" and "one or two midweek losses followed by a weekend sweep don't indicate a struggling team," but let's face it, it's possible to go 11-1 in the postseason and win it all. It's not possible to do the same with 14-5. At what point to the successive imperfect weeks pile up on a team at the ranking meeting and y'all finally decide to bump someone from #1?

Aaron Fitt: Vanderbilt has been the best, most consistent team in the nation this season. The team that had the best case for passing the Commodores in the rankings recently, Florida State, finally lost a series this weekend, but Vandy kept on chugging along. We weren't about to jump Rice from No. 4 to No. 1, especially after Vanderbilt won its series.

 Q:  Josh from Alabama asks:
With Arkansas losing their second straight weekend series in a row, shouldn't they have dropped a little farther than just 2 spots.

Aaron Fitt: We debated this in the rankings meeting today, but we finally decided to keep Arkansas ahead of South Carolina because the Hogs still have a two-game edge in the SEC. Losing two straight weekends isn't good, but we cut Arkansas a little bit of slack because it's been so good all season.

 Q:  Mark from North Carolina asks:
Just looking at the records against top 25 teams, one thing stood out to me. 12-10 against the top 25 for Long Beach State. WOW. 22 games against top 25 and possibly 6 more. 3 against UC Riverside next weekend and possibly 3 more against Fullerton depending on how they do. Have you ever seen or remember any teams that have played over half of their schedule against top 25 teams and even some of their other games against teams just outside the top 25?

Aaron Fitt: It is very, very impressive that Long Beach State has played such a tough schedule and has weathered it so admirably. However, do keep in mind that Beach's recent hot streak has come against Oral Roberts, Cal State Northridge, UC Davis, Pacific, Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. That is not the strongest part of its schedule. I'm very curious to see how the Dirtbags finish against two tough opponents in Riverside and Fullerton, the latter of which already took a series from LBSU in non-conference play this year.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
With LaPorta's impressive campaign this year, juxtaposed by his history of injuries, which team would you anticipate drafting him if today were June 7th?

Aaron Fitt: I'm going to say either Mariners at 11 or Blue Jays at 16.

 Q:  st.john'sfan from queens, ny asks:
With St. John's jumping into your Top 25 with another series win this week, what are the chances of the Storm taking a 2 seed? Also, with their high-scoring offense, solid starting pitching and lights-out bullpen, is there any hope of a CWS surprise?

Aaron Fitt: I think St. John's will be a 2 seed if it can win the Big East. That's a good club, perhaps capable of making a run to a super-regional. I don't see it as a surprise Omaha team, but you never know.

 Q:  Nathan from Houston, TX asks:
What is the rational behind having UC Irvine so far ahead of Long Beach State in the rankings. The Dirtbags are ahead of them in conference, and have played a tougher schedule. Yes, I know that Irvine took the series against the dirtbags. Do you see more potential in Irvine regardless of how well the Dirtbags have been playing or have the Dirtbags just been playing Dirtbag baseball and over achieving?

Aaron Fitt: Irvine took the head-to-head series from Long Beach and another from Fullerton. Fullerton took the first head-to-head from Long Beach. Since then, the Dirtbags have padded their record against the softer part of their schedule, though I give them credit for beating a decent Cal Poly team. I know LBSU has the better conference mark, but I wouldn't be shocked if UC Irvine ends up finishing ahead in the conference. I also do like Irvine's talent level better. All the more reason Mike Weathers probably deserves national coach of the year honors this season -- that is a quintessential Dirtbag team that plays above its talent. They're very tough, there is no doubt, and they never quit.

 Q:  Josh Mitchell from Lumberton Texas asks:
Is FSU in trouble with there pitching? Will they get a top 8 seed?

Aaron Fitt: I do think FSU will get a national seed, but I am also a bit worried about the pitching. I like Danny Rosen in the rotation, but I wonder if the bullpen will be OK without him. The jury is still out on the 2007 version of Luke Tucker...

 Q:  Bob from Houston asks:
What would it take for Rice to grab the #1 overall seed? If they win out and win the conference tournament, can they overtake Vandy?

Aaron Fitt: Definitely. The Owls have already taken over No. 1 in the RPI, and if Vandy slips up next weekend or in the SEC tournament, Rice is an easy choice as the No. 1 overall seed. If Vandy wins next weekend and wins the SEC tourney, I don't think you can give the nod to Rice.

 Q:  Dan from San Diego asks:
If 2 of 3 from Wichita State at hostile Eck Stadium in Wichita doesn't propel Cal State Fullerton back into the top 25, will a sweep of Cal Poly next weekend get them there? This is awfully reminiscent of the 2004 Titans that ran the table late in the season......

Aaron Fitt: Winning that series at Wichita was impressive and put Fullerton back in the discussion, but remember, the Titans had lost back-to-back series and five out of six games overall before last week.

 Q:  Ken from Portland asks:
How can Gonzaga be possibly considered as an at-large over any Big West team? Gonzaga is a great story this year, but do they really deserve at larges over Fullerton or Riverside (who took 2 of 3 from Gonzaga)? Aaron, my main concern is why the West seems to only get an allotted number of bids. If Gonzaga were to get consideration, why couldn't it be stealing a bid from the MVC or Big East? The West deserves to have atleast 12 teams this year.

Aaron Fitt: I think four from the Pac-10, four from the Big West and three from the WCC is reasonable.

 Q:  Bob from Houston asks:
With Rice and Texas all but assured a top 8 national seed, do you see Texas A&M in a position to get a regional bid, or is that too many Texas regional sites?

Aaron Fitt: I do think there will be another Texas site, between either Texas A&M or Texas Christian. Missouri could wind up as a host, which would make TCU more likely to host than A&M, a third team out of the Big 12.

 Q:  Marc from Austin asks:
Give me the two teams that you think will square up in the CWS Final ... no skirting the question. Give us a straight shot.

Aaron Fitt: A good no-nonsense question to end on. I honestly believe that Rice and Vanderbilt are the two best teams in the country, so those are the two I'll take. See you next week . . .