College Chat: May 30

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aron Fitt: Hi everybody. I'm going to have to keep this tight — still have a ton of regional previews to write. Let's get to it.

    Tyler (Oxford): Who would host the super regional if Ole Miss won the Texas A&M Regional, and San Diego won the UCLA regional?

Aaron Fitt: Ole Miss. San Diego cannot host on campus (and just broke ground on a new stadium to open next year where its current stadium sits). So there is still hope for some baseball in Oxford this month.

    Ray (Tulsa): Which 4 seeds (if any) do you think could make the championship game of their regional?

Aaron Fitt: I'd rank them like this, starting with the team I think has the best chance: Stony Brook, Austin Peay State, Oral Roberts, Creighton, Fresno State.

    Brad (Pittsburgh): Can Coastal Carolina do damage in Columbia without Conway How far do you see them going in regionals

Aaron Fitt: I think they can, because those two submariners—Aaron Burke and Ryan Connolly—can really give hitters fits. Coastal's starting pitching isn't great, but the Chanticleers only needed their starters to go a few innings in the conference tournament, because their submariners took it from there. Obviously, Coastal has a better chance in this regional if Tyler Herb can go deeper into a ballgame, but I really think Burke and Connolly will determine how far the Chants go. I don't think this is one of Coastal's best teams, but those two guys make it dangerous regardless. I also like that they have two quality veterans loaded with postseason experience anchoring the middle of the lineup: Daniel Bowman and hard-hittin' Rich Witten.

    Chris (California): Hey Aaron, I'm really looking forward to the Fullerton Oregon match up in Eugene. How do these ball clubs match up?

Aaron Fitt: I think they are mirror images of each other: exceedingly scrappy, well-coached teams that don't have much firepower in the lineup or power arms on the mound. I don't particularly trust either team's starting rotation after its No. 1 guy, but I like that Fullerton pounds the strike zone better than anybody in college baseball, which will limit Oregon's ability to manufacture runs via the walk and HBP. I also could see Indiana State or Austin Peay winning this regional—those are both very balanced clubs, and don't forget that APSU was in a regional final last year. That's a very veteran lineup with more thump than any other team in this regional, but this ballpark won't play into their strengths very well, because it is designed to suppress offense. And Indiana State could win that opener against the Titans behind Dakota Bacus, who is similar to Floro and Kuedell but actually has a bit more velocity (he'll bump 92 or 93). I think that is one of the most wide-open regionals, along with Coral Gables and Gary.

    Jonathan (Arkansas): Pretty simple Any surprises coming out of Regionals & the Supers and Who wins it all? Cant believe season is almost over - Seems like it just started

Aaron Fitt: Trying to get me to give away my picks before the podcasts, huh? I won't do it! You'll have to sit through all two hours of John and I prattling on if you want to get our picks...

    Jon (Indiana): As a Purdue fan & college baseball fan I have to agree UK got the short end, with their entire season success. With that said, I feel by UK getting snubbed, so does Purdue. UK should not be in our region and makes me nervous. They are a legit SEC team and to be honest play a much higher level of competition. We are good, very good but is UK the favorite here? Also, thoughts on the situation and our regional?

Aaron Fitt: I'm sure a lot of people will be picking Kentucky, and I could certainly see Kentucky playing with a chip on its shoulder and making it all the way to Omaha, like Virginia did when it was sent to UC Irvine in 2009 or Florida State did when it was sent to Norwich in 2010. However... I think David Starn can beat Kentucky in that opener. And if this regional comes down to Kentucky and Purdue, I think the Boilermakers match up well against UK because most (not all) of their key bats are righthanded, not lefthanded (and all of Kentucky's starting pitchers are lefties). I think Purdue is a very good, complete team. I'm not in love with its pitching, but I think it's good enough to make a deep run in conjunction with that lineup. Of course, John Manuel picked Kent State to win that regional (spoiler alert!), and I could see that happening also... Kent State is a very experienced, talented, dangerous No. 3 seed.

    Robert (Houston, TX): Which regional host has the biggest chance of getting upset this weekend?

Aaron Fitt: Miami. I could see any one of those four teams winning that regional—but I see UCF as the favorite, rather than the Hurricanes.

    Adam (Starkville): Who is your pick to win the Florida St regional? Is Chris Stratton the best pitcher in the regional? HAIL STATE!!!

Aaron Fitt: Stratton is definitely the best pitcher in that regional. He was the SEC pitcher of the year and will be a first-round pick next week. But I think MSU had better throw him in that first game to make sure it beats Josh Martin and Samford, which gives Florida State the inside track at winning this regional, I think. Mississippi State has far and away the best pitching in this regional, and I certainly think those guys have a chance to win it. But ultimately I do think FSU is the better overall team, and it has the advantages of being at home (in a park that basically plays as the polar opposite of Dudy Noble) and probably not having to face Stratton. FSU might choose to throw ace Brandon Leibrandt in its opener against a frisky UAB team, but there isn't much separation between Leibrandt and Mike Compton, anyway.

    James (Ann Arbor): Michigan Job ? Any idea, suggestions, thoughts? I noticed there wasn't a write up about it in coaching carousel.

Aaron Fitt: There is a write-up on the college blog, in which I speculated about some replacement candidates. I know I'd go after Scott Stricklin of Kent State if I was in charge at Michigan.

    Mark (Mid City (New Orleans)): Will you please do a bracket challenge this year?

Aaron Fitt: I wish we would, but I am told it's just not happening this year. Sorry... We've had plenty of people ask about it, so maybe your voices will help bring it back next year!

    Ross (Raleigh, NC): Any chance there will ever be more of a S-curve format in future tournament selections. Being a Canes fan, it'll be different to see them not sent to Gainesville in any way, but at the same time how does the committee come to pairing a team such as NCSU with UF potentially in a super-regional. I don't think anyone would view them as the weakest 1-seed.

Aaron Fitt: I know what you mean — that one was particularly baffling since they could have just paired Charlottesville with Tallahassee and Raleigh with Columbia, which would have made more sense from a competitive balance standpoint and a geographic standpoint.

    Jason (Minnesota): Aaron, Is there any chance Vandy's two assistants will leave for other jobs this offseason or will this staff remain intact for next year?

Aaron Fitt: We talked about this in the podcast we recorded today (which will be posted shortly) — this really could be the last hurrah for this coaching staff, because DJ and Holliday figure to be hot names on the coaching market this summer.

    Russell (Austin, Texas): After the dismal season the Longhorns had, what changes do you think they need to make?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think they NEED to make any changes. They were in Omaha just last year, for goodness sake, and in the national title round in 2009. They brought in a great recruiting class this past season, but they had a couple of bad breaks (not getting Hinojosa in early, losing French and Jacquez), and they just didn't have a very good season — it happens. That said, I don't think that staff will be intact next year, because there is a sense around college baseball that one of those assistants is likely to leave for another, better-paying opportunity.

    Thomas (Nebraska): I know that clemson has struggled this year, but do you think they could potentially be a sleeper for Omaha like missisippi state?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think Clemson has the horses on the mound that Mississippi State has. This strikes me as a very ordinary Clemson team, but they do play hard and never give up, so that gives them a chance. I like the athleticism and the defense (Thomas Brittle, Jason Stolz and Spencer Kieboom really make them strong up the middle). But I don't see them winning that regional against a South Carolina team that I just think is better.

    Jason (Irmo, SC): Aaron, I've got to ask, who do you have making it out of the South Carolina regional and who is your sleeper for Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: I've got the Gamecocks coming out of that regional and getting back to Omaha. As for a sleeper — let's qualify this as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed that could get to Omaha (though not necessarily a team I am picking to get to Omaha). I like John's Kent State pick, and I think Ole Miss has a lot more upside than your typical No. 3 seed if that lineup can get hot. I also could see Louisville getting to Omaha with all of those quality arms, though I think I'm picking Arizona to win that regional.

    jason (NC): What Friday games have the most potential to provide a 4 over 1 upset or a 3 over 2 upset? Missouri St and Missouri come to mind.

Aaron Fitt: With Petree and Pierce Johnson, Missouri State could easily start off 2-0 in that regional. I think Stony Brook has a great chance to beat Miami with Tyler Johnson on the mound, and a lineup that I think is just plain better than Miami's. I think Ty Blach is a tough matchup for all those lefties in UCLA's lineup. I could see Zach Toney and that physical, mature Austin Peay lineup upsetting Oregon. And I think Baylor had better not get cute against Drew Bowen and Oral Roberts. That ORU team has the arms (especially Bowen, Alex Gonzalez and Kurt Giller, who all have power stuff) and the thump in the middle of the lineup to potentially win that regional... I'm picking Baylor, but I won't be shocked if the Golden Eagles pull off the big upset.

    TA (SC): out of Miss St, Vandy, and Arky which SEC 2 seed do you see having the most potential to advance to the Supers?

Aaron Fitt: All three could certainly win regionals—but I'm actually not picking any of the three. I think the fact that NC State drew a softer No. 4 seed and can comfortably save Carlos Rodon for a potential winner's bracket game against Vandy gives the 'Pack a big advantage in that regional. The same goes for Mississippi State likely having to use Stratton in its opener — that sets things up nicely for FSU. Arkansas will go with D.J. Baxendale in its opener, which means Ryne Stanek would pitch a potential winner's bracket game against Rice. Stanek is the key for Arkansas — he's obviously got the talent to beat anybody but he was banged up down the stretch and just hasn't really had a great outing since mid-April. He's one of the biggest X-factors in the tournament.

    Phil (VA): As a Cavs fan...should I be scared of Army and Chris Rowley?

Aaron Fitt: I think you should be — he's darn good. He's got amazing life on his sinker and gets ground ball after ground ball. He also has a solid slider and a very good changeup, and he fields his position very well, which is an underrated attribute. Army could definitely win that game. Either way, I see Oklahoma winning that regional.

    Rene (Renny) (Slidell, Louisiana): I see Mississippi State upsetting home team Florida State for the regional- yes? crazy? Been to the Box, Aaron?? Home field at it's best, chances LSU in World Series? Love your chats Rene

Aaron Fitt: Certainly not crazy — Mississippi State could definitely go in there and win that regional, even though I'm picking the Seminoles. (Guess I was lying when I said I wasn't going to give away my picks today!) And yes, LSU has an amazing home-field advantage. I love LSU's chances to get to Omaha.

    David (Columbia, SC): Aaron, Thanks for all the great reading you provided again this year... Now my favorite time of year, Omaha time. Out of the SEC who do you see as the most likely to reach Omaha and will do you see my Gators advancing to the Championship series and bringing home the their first baseball NC?

Aaron Fitt: Thanks for the kind words, David. I see at least three SEC teams in Omaha, and maybe four (Kentucky is something of a wild card — could see that team making a deep run, or falling flat, because the Wildcats really haven't swung the bats as well down the stretch as they did in the first half). But yes, I see Florida back in Omaha, and I'm going to stick with the Gators as my national champion pick.

    Tom (Fairfield, CT): Realistically, what are the chances Pepperdine makes some noise in the tournament? Do they stack up well in their regional or at least well enough to advance?

Aaron Fitt: Great matchup in the opener between Jon Moscot and Tony Bucciferro — could see that one going either way. Scott Frazier is one of those X-factor guys like Stanek — if he has his best stuff and command, he could beat Stanford, but he also gave up eight runs in his last start against USD. I think Stanford wins this regional handily, but Pepperdine will be competitive.

    Ray (Pearl, MS): Is it true that Ron Polk is at UAB? I sure hope Coach Cohens has got my dawgs ready to face Sanford cuz I don't want any of Polk. Y'all really thinking State can get to Omaha? Thanks for the chattin and GO DAWGS!!

Aaron Fitt: Indeed, coach Polk is a volunteer assistant at UAB — yet another intriguing storyline in this tournament. That is an extremely compelling regional.

    Scott (So Cal): I find the Los Angeles Regional pretty intriging. Obviously, UCLA is the favorite to come out of it but there's also USD, who is reeling a bit after a tough series loss for the conference championship against Pepperdine. However, they do have 40+ wins and have been ranked in the top 25 the majority of the year. There's UNM and their offense can keep up with just about anyone in the nation. Do you see any of these 2 teams giving the Bruins a run for their money?

Aaron Fitt: That's the regional I will attend this week, and I am also intrigued by hit. UCLA, USD and UNM are all really good offensive teams, so there could be some fireworks this weekend. The Lobos have played a lot better down the stretch than the Toreros, so I see New Mexico as the biggest threat to UCLA to win this regional — although if Ty Blach and Creighton wins that opener, maybe UNM becomes the favorite.

    Will (Dallas): Aaron- You were sure wrong about your prediction on Baylor this year having not even suggested them as a national seed as late as May 17th? This team deserves some credit for an unbelievable record setting season in winning 18 straight Big 12 games!! I think the selection committee showed the Bears respect by putting TCU in Texas A&M bracked. Your thoughts on the Bears now?

Aaron Fitt: Not sure what you're talking about with your preface — if you go back and read my Stock Reports, I've had Baylor as a national seed since the first Stock Report of the season in Week 9, and they've been in the SECURE national seed category since Week 10. Admittedly, it took me the first half of the season to come around on Baylor as the favorite in the Big 12 (I confess that I called Texas A&M an "overwhelming" favorite to win that league early on — oops!). Baylor is a very good, complete club, certainly capable of getting to Omaha.

    Bill L (Bozeman, MT): Do you see any really young teams in the field that may not have much of a chance this year but that stand to gain valuable experience for runs toward Omaha in the future?

Aaron Fitt: I'll throw Oregon State out there. I do think the Beavers have a chance, but I don't see them going into Baton Rouge and winning that regional. But it will be great experience for that fantastic freshman class, and the Beavers figure to head into next season as a preseason top 10 team and a legit Omaha contender.

    David (Salem): Can you explan why the committe viewed Oregon and Oregon State so differently? Conference records are very similiar but OSU beat Oregon 4 out 5 times but Oregon is ranked 5th overall and Oregon State is sent to play LSU as a #2 seed.

Aaron Fitt: Beaver fans are in an uproar about this, and I understand why, but let me explain the difference between these two clubs: first, Oregon is No. 6 in the RPI, and Oregon State is No. 27. There's a reason for that gap: Oregon played a stronger nonconference schedule and also posted a better record against teams in the top 25 of the RPI (the Ducks were 13-7, the Beavers were 9-8). OSU won three series against the top teams in the Pac-12 (vs. Oregon, UCLA and Stanford), but all three of those series were at home, and the Beavers also went 1-5 against Arizona and ASU. Oregon won all four of its series against those teams (sweeping Arizona State at home and taking two of three against UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State all on the road). It's just a stronger overall body of work for the Ducks, despite the head-to-head factor.

    Garrett gore (Wilmington nc): Who is going to be your organ st/Fresno st (sleeper) this year? GGore #4

Aaron Fitt: Let's wrap up with a question from the all-time leader in College World Series games played! I don't think I see a No. 3 or No. 4 seed capable of doing what the 07 Beavers or 08 Bulldogs did, but I think Stony Brook could win its regional as a No. 4, and as I mentioned before, I think Kent State could conceivably get all the way to Omaha as a No. 3. Garrett, I know you believe the Seahawks of UNCW are dangerous, and you're right — that's a good, balanced team with speed, power and a lot of pitching depth. But Raleigh is a very difficult draw, I think — Vanderbilt is just so hot, and NC State is really talented. That's going to be a great regional, I think.

Aaron Fitt: OK everybody, that's all I've got time for — thanks for all the great questions! It's June Madness — the best time of the year! Enjoy the action.