College Top 25 Chat: April 19

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone — I'll be starting in just a couple of minutes. Sorry for the delay.

    Jeramey (Atlanta): Florida State's Tyler Holt is a stud, however their hasn't been much talk of him being drafted? What round do you think he get's drafted in, and is their any chance he comes back for his senior season?

Aaron Fitt: OK, let's get to it. Holt is indeed a heck of a player, a true leadoff man who brings so much energy and simply knows how to win. He projects as a third- or fourth-round pick, because he lacks the physicality or the elite speed to profile as a true everyday center fielder in the big leagues. I could see him carving out a nice career as a fourth outfielder in the majors, though.

    Devin (Louisville, KY): With Arkansas winning 11 Straight games and looking good right now, What is the thinking behind not moving them up in the Top 25?

Aaron Fitt: Well, every team in the top 13 except UCLA won its weekend series. There wasn't much room for movement for anyone. But I will say this: I think I like Arkansas the best of that group of four SEC teams that are in a bunch in the back of the top 10. The Hogs are healthy, I like how the pitching has stabilized, and Mike Bolsinger fits very well in the bullpen, I think. They're also a lot more dangerous offensively than they were a year ago — and that team went to Omaha. Check out today's Three Strikes for a Golden Spikes Spotlight on Zack Cox.

    Chip (Fort Worth): Considering FSU and Florida both lost two games during last weeks action, is the Staff waiting to see the outcome of this weekends road trip at Florida before they decide to move the Razorbacks further up in the statndings? Seems they could have moved up this week along with LSU.

Aaron Fitt: Just to follow up on the last answer — in order to move Arkansas up, you'd really have to move LSU and South Carolina up as well, because all three had similar weeks and have similar resumes. That means you'd have to move Florida State and Florida each down three spots to make room for those other SEC teams to move up, and we weren't going to move FSU and Florida down after each won a conference road series. As you should all know by now, we put a lot of stock in winning weekend series, and if you win a conference road series, we're generally not going to move you down in the rankings.

    Nick (Dallas): How impressive was TCU's 4-0 week? Do they have the potential to earn a Super Regional at home?

Aaron Fitt: That was a very important week for TCU mostly because it really needed to win that midweek game against Texas A&M, but certainly sweeping a road series in conference is huge — especially after BYU just took two games from Kansas State. If TCU is competing with a Big 12 team for a regional hosting spot, this week could be a major factor in TCU's favor. Kansas State is the No. 2 team in the Big 12 right now, and it went 0-2 at BYU, which was swept at home immediately after that by TCU. I do think TCU has a chance at a national seed, but its RPI will take another hit by four games left against Air Force, plus three against Cal State Bakersfield. It's more likely that TCU hosts a regional but could wind up on the road in super regionals. Regardless, this feels like the year the Horned Frogs break through to Omaha.

    Arkham (Danville, PA): Thanks for the chat, Aaron. UCLA's weekend: Speed bump, pothole or detour on the road to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Let's call it a pothole. As talented as UCLA is — on the mound, especially — the fact is the Bruins were playing a bit above their heads in that 22-0 start. This team is far from a lock to reach Omaha - it is relying on some young players in the lineup who will have their ups and downs, and as overpowering as Cole and Bauer can be, clearly they are not yet finished products and they can be beaten. I think the Bruins will bounce back and win that series at Arizona next week, but I could also see them sinking into a bit of a midseason funk.

    Justin (Springdale Arkansas): How high do you see Zach Cox, Andy Wilkins, and Brett Eibner going in this years MLB draft and what do you think are the Hogs chances of getting them back for next season?

Aaron Fitt: None of them will be back — you can take that to the bank. Cox is a lock first-rounder, and Eibner will probably go in the first round or sandwich round, as a pitcher. Wilkins will probably go in the top three rounds because of his power bat.

    Chuck (Wichita): Still no K-State even after a sweep of Baylor?

Aaron Fitt: If the Wildcats hadn't been swept in that midweek series at BYU, they would have been ranked for sure. Even if they had just split those games, it would have been an easy decision. But BYU is 16-19; you can't get swept in those games (and give up 28 runs in two games) if you're a Top 25 team.

    Dave (Columbia, SC): Who do you see as the top 8 national seeds? How about 3-4 teams with a chance to work into the mix.

Aaron Fitt: Right now, I'd have to go with Arizona State, Virginia, Texas, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Arkansas and two of these three SEC teams: Florida, LSU and South Carolina. Other teams in the mix: Florida State, Miami, Coastal Carolina, TCU, Louisville.

    Bill (Hamilton, Nj): Looking at the updated RPI, seems 4 Big East teams are in the mix for regional bids. With Rutgers leading the conference and UConn and Louisville doing very well in the RPI, does Pitt stand a decent chance to get a 4th BE bid for the NCAA's? They did win a series at home vs Louisville, but lost a road series at Rutgers. Does the UConn series in a few weeks essentially become a "red chip" series for getting an NCAA bid? Pitt has played a few good teams OOC, but they have no wins that jump out at you. Conversely, U Conn has wins over Ohio St, USC and Minnesota , along with a series with at Northridge. What's your take?

Aaron Fitt: I think Louisville is a lock, leaving UConn, Pitt and Rutgers to battle for two more spots. It just seems extremely unlikely that the committee is going to take four teams from the Big East, even though it's a strong year in that conference. UConn and Rutgers have played stronger nonconference schedules, but neither of them has anything on their resume that matches Pitt's series win against Louisville. I like UConn the best of those three teams from a talent standpoint, so I'd bet on UConn finishing strong and getting in. Hard to choose between Pitt and Rutgers for a third team — and there's no guarantee the Big East gets three. In light of the way the committee shafted Rhode Island, Eastern Illinois and Missouri State last year, it's hard to see the committee giving the benefit of the doubt to any cold-weather mid-majors this year.

    Jim (Oakland): Aaron, How many teams do you see from the Big West getting into the tournament and do you think Riverside has a chance to be one of them.

Aaron Fitt: Remarkably, the Big West would probably be a two-bid league if we did an updated projection today. We included Long Beach in our midseason projection, and the Dirtbags have since dropped back-to-back series against Davis and Riverside. Pacific just won a series against Irvine and has put together a nice little resume (including decent nonconference series wins against San Francisco, Nevada, Southern California and San Jose State, plus a midweek win against Stanford), but Pacific is 106th in the RPI — that's not at-large territory. Right now, I think Pacific is deserving of a bid, but the committee places a lot of weight on the RPI, and that's bad news for the Tigers. The same goes for Riverside (79th in the RPI), which lost a series to Pacific last weekend. The Highlanders need to get hot and pad their overall record, because 17-13 is certainly not going to overcome their mediocre RPI.

    Kyle (Fayetteville): We aren't so early in the season anymore and conference records and standings are starting to mean more. When are the conference records going to start work themselves out in the rankings (especially as we see teams like UF, FSU, and UCLA continue to go 2-2, 3-2, etc each week while teams behind them go unblemished against good competition)?

Aaron Fitt: So if two teams are separated by a game or two in the standings, should we rig the rankings to always have the teams higher in the standings ahead? What if Team A has put together a better conference record by sweeping the weaker teams in the league, while Team B has won two of three every week against the best teams in the league? Which team is more deserving? I'd take the team that has won series against better competition in that hypothetical. If you just want the rankings to reflect conference records, why even look at the rankings? Just look at the conference standings.

    Todd (My mom's basement): This weekend: FSU or Miami? Discuss

Aaron Fitt: I like the Seminoles at home in this one. Give Miami credit for taking care of business against the softer part of its conference schedule, but the Hurricanes could find the sledding tougher with series at Florida State and Georgia Tech and home against Virginia in three of their next four series. I just continue to believe Florida State is better this year than Miami is, that series is in Tallahassee.

    Dave (Orlando): Aaron, does Ole Miss have enough pitching behind Pomeranz to make a run at Omaha this season?

Aaron Fitt: I have my doubts. Aaron Barrett can be very good at times, but how reliable is he? And the Sunday job has been a revolving door. I think Mississippi is a CWS contender largely because Pomeranz is the best pitcher in the nation and the lineup is pretty good and they're a good defensive team, but gun to my head, I'd say they don't make it to Omaha because of the rest of the staff.

    JohnD (Dripping Springs, TX): This is something that I have noticed week in and week out from BA's College Ranking. Kansas State is in every poll (As high as #16 this week), but nowhere to be seen on BA's. Do you just not like KSU or what? What's your reasoning behind it? A excellent overall record and being 9-3 in the Big XII is impressive. Sweeping a hot Baylor team is even more impressive. I figure you will say that hey they have played a weak schedule, but if that's the case you are weighing much too heavily on that statement. They have beaten some decent to good teams over and over again. I would like your thoughts. They need to be given credit where credit is deserved. Thanks, JohnD

Aaron Fitt: I talked a bit about this earlier, but the only reason Kansas State is not ranked this week is because it was swept at BYU. But I spoke with Brad Hill last week, and even he acknowledged that Kansas State's schedule is back-loaded, with series against Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M the final four weeks. Don't get me wrong, I'm very impressed with that sweep of Baylor, and we were ready to bring whoever won that series into the rankings this week... but then K-State was swept in two midweek games at BYU. A team might stay put in our rankings after losing one midweek game, and it might even move up a spot or two depending on what other teams have done, but you're not usually going to see a team move into the rankings after dropping two midweek games against a non-regional team.

    Tornado Tony (Texarkana): Aaron, my old pal. I'm a little bumfuzzled not seeing Rice in dem rankings of yours. They just picked up a big road series win against a real good team from down south. I mean, they gotta win every durn game they play? What more them boys gotta do?

Aaron Fitt: Rice is close to getting back in. If we were going to rank a team with 15 losses this week, it probably would have been San Diego, which did win a head-to-head series against Rice, but we figured we'd just wait another week before bringing in either team. A 3-1 week against A&M and ECU ought to get the Owls back in the Top 25.

    Jesse (Portland): Is Hultzen moving up the list of top 2011 pitchers with his consistently strong performances? Is he in the discussion with the likes of Cole, Gray, Jungmann, etc...?

Aaron Fitt: I think he's always been roughly in that discussion — he ranked No. 79 in our overall Top 200 prospects list for the 2008 draft, ahead of Jungmann and just a few spots behind Zack Cox. He's an outstanding prospect, a likely first-round pick, though his stuff isn't as overpowering as Cole's or Jungmann's, so he's still a tick behind those guys.

    Richard (TALLAHSSEE, FL): Aaron, what's the deal with ASU being back at #1... The reason I ask that is take the next 6 teams have played considerably more Top 25 teams, UVA(15), Texas(9), Geogia Tech(6), UCLA(7), FSU(13), & UF(13), while ASU has played 1. Now I know that some of the teams counted in those numbers are no longer Top 25 but how does a team like ASU jump back to #1 by just sweeping USC after losing a weekend series to WaSU... It just doesn't make sense with those tougher schedules in the Top 10...So how are they #1?

Aaron Fitt: Well, it's worth noting that Arizona State is also 12-1 against Cal, Fullerton, Auburn, Oregon and San Diego — all of whom have been ranked at some point this season, just not when they faced ASU. So that 1-0 vs. Top 25 number is a bit misleading. This week, Virginia didn't move up because it went just 2-2, but it also didn't move down because it won a weekend series against a ranked team. That's the kind of week that causes a team to hold its ground. So we moved Arizona State up from No. 3. The Sun Devils are 31-3 against a very solid schedule — that's good enough for me.

    nilgai (South Texas): Texas leads the Big12 in runs scored. What sort of stock would you put into this statistic? Is it actually possible that Texas has the best offense in the Big12? Surely not.

Aaron Fitt: Why not? Who's got a better offense? The Big 12 is down this year — aside from Texas, there is not an elite team in the league. Texas does not have an elite offense, but I could believe that it's actually better than any other offense in that league. There are some quality veterans and talented young players in that Longhorn lineup, and we know they're going to execute.

    Bryan (San Francisco): Any talk of Cal's Justin Jones for National Freshman of the Year? I know everyone is high on Purke (who is obviously a better pro prospect) but Jones numbers are far superior against better teams. Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Certainly Justin Jones is on the short list, along with Arizona's Kurt Heyer. Check out the Marquee Mound Matchup section of last week's Weekend Preview for more on Jones.

    Kevin Conroy (Iwakuni Japan): Greetings Aaron, The Titans appear to be back on track after a slow start. Do you see them as one of the favorites to make it back to Omaha and win a 5th national championship? Also, what do you make of Noe Ramirez's injury? How long will he be out? Thanks for your great analysis.

Aaron Fitt: I have never stopped believing this year that Fullerton will be in Omaha, and I continue to believe that. It doesn't sound like Ramirez will miss too much time — hopefully we'll have more info soon.

    Eliezer (Long Island, NY): Where is the love for Liberty (Flames) and the pursuit for happiness which is being in the top 25? They obliterate VMI who was on the radar as a top 25 team and still Liberty gets very little if almost nothing in terms of votes. What does Liberty (#39 RPI on Boyds) need to do to get some justice?

Aaron Fitt: How do you know they didn't get any votes? We don't have votes, and we don't list "others receiving votes." We did look at Liberty this week — that was an impressive sweep of VMI, and it has landed Liberty very much on our radar, but the Flames don't have a Top 25-caliber resume quite yet.

    Bob (Chicago, IL): Simple question for you Aaron. 5 words. Coastal - National Seed or not?

Aaron Fitt: Probably not. But I do think you'll see Coastal in Omaha this year.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that's it for today. Until next week...