College Top 25 Chat: May 3

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone. I'll be starting in just a few minutes — sorry for the slight delay.

    Bryan (Ocala): How impressive have the Florida starting pitchers been this year? It looked like they lacked an ace to start the year, but Panteliodis has been great and the two freshmen have stepped up.

Aaron Fitt: You're right, Panteliodis has emerged as a very reliable Friday starter. He's not overpowering like Drew Pomeranz, but he competes and locates, and he always gives the Gators a chance to win — in that respect, he's like Blake Cooper, who has emerged as an ace for South Carolina. The strength of Florida's pitching, though, is its depth, and I think the emergence of guys like Randall and Johnson illustrates that. Without Tommy Toledo, and Anthony DeSclafani strugglng as a starter, the Gators still had enough arms to put together a solid rotation.

    Sharon (Durham): I'm a UVa alum living in Durham and after watching Keith Werman in the CWS, I went to the games this weekend to see him in person. Wow, he is bigger on TV! Is he a potential pro?

Aaron Fitt: He's small, but he can really play, and he has hit like crazy in 2010. He doesn't just get cheap hits, either — he hit some balls hard this weekend, including one liner that hit Phil Gosselin in the head as he ran to second base on Saturday. Gosselin was OK, but had his bell rung a bit. Werman's a very reliable defender at second base, too. It's hard not to love watching that guy play. He's not big enough to be a big-time pro prospect, but somebody will give him a chance to play pro ball, I reckon.

    Taurean (Jacksonville): Was the Florida sweep over LSU a statement of how good the Gators are or how much LSU is struggling?

Aaron Fitt: A little of both. Florida is obviously really good — they've only lost one series all year, and have won big series against LSU, Arkansas, Miami and Vanderbilt, even while battling significant injury issues all season. Florida is an elite team, and like any elite team it should be expected to win any home series, even against another elite team. But a sweep really does make a statement. LSU is in a funk, for sure. The bottom line is that team needs better performances from its pitching. The Tigers will rebound from this losing streak, but they cannot repeat as national champions unless Anthony Ranaudo returns to his dominant self. There are plenty of other problems with that team right now (the rest of the rotation hasn't been good either), but more than anything else, Ranaudo will determine just how far LSU will go in the postseason.

    Harry (Jackson, MS): Now that Ole Miss has won 10 straight, what do they have to do be a regional host? Is a national 8 seed possible? Thanks and HOTTY TODDY!!

Aaron Fitt: Certainly Ole Miss is in strong position to host, and the Rebels have moved into the national seed discussion, although I think they have more work to do in that department. Now, if they win that series against Arkansas, I think they'll have an inside track at a national seed, because they will be the class of the SEC West.

    Jeramey (Atlanta): With Ga. Tech losing thier last 2 weekend series and 3 of thier last 4, I would assume they have played thier way out of a National seed, but could still host a regional. Is their anyway we could still be in the running for a National Seed? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: At this point, they have played themselves out of national seed position, but there are three weeks left, plus the ACC tournament. That's enough time to get back on the winning track and earn a national seed. Tech is still No. 11 in the RPI, after all, and is just a game out of first in the ACC.

    Daniel (New Orleans): What does TCU need to do to obtain a Super Regional, is it still unlikely? Are they now a lock to host a Regional assuming they win the series at New Mexico this weekend?

Aaron Fitt: TCU is awfully impressive, but the RPI will present a major obstacle to its national seed ambitions. The Frogs are No. 18 now, and they have eight games left against Air Force, Cal State Bakersfield and UTSA, which will hurt. I think they're just about a lock to host a regional if they win the Mountain West, but the super regional picture is tough. I'd feel much better about their chances if they weren't 0-2 midweek against Oklahoma.

    Nelson (Tacoma, WA): Aaron- Any chance the Pac 10 gets 6 teams in? It looks like that even Washington is in the possible picture with a mid-40's RPI. Do they have a shot if they can get to 15-wins in conference?

Aaron Fitt: I have a hard time getting to 64 teams without six Pac-10 teams. ASU, Cal, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona and Oregon are all deserving of bids at this point, and I think all six will get in. The Pac-10 has never gotten more than five in regionals before, but couple of things to keep in mind: (1) The league has 10 teams now, not nine; (2) It's a great year for the Pac-10, just as last year was a great year for the Big 12, which was rewarded with more regional bids than ever before; and (3) It's a rotten year for Conference USA and a down year for the Big West, which makes more bids available for other leagues. The Pac-10 is well positioned to capitalize.

    David (Atlanta): Which Tiger has had the worst middle of the season and become the bigger disappointment....Clemson or LSU?

Aaron Fitt: Both are 11-10 in their leagues, but LSU's league is deeper. Still, expectations were higher for LSU than they were for Clemson, and Clemson did rebound with a series win against Florida Gulf Coast this weekend. LSU's midseason swoon has been more surprising and disappointing than Clemson's.

    Kyle (Seattle, WA): Portland is on a tear this year; if they continue their strong play Tuesday at Oregon and at home versus USD this upcoming weekend, what are the chances for an at-large bid if USD stays on top of the WCC?

Aaron Fitt: Portland has had a fine season, but its nonconference schedule was very weak, so it ranks just 80th in the RPI. According to the RPI Needs Report at Boyd's World, the Pilots would need to go 13-0 down the stretch to get their RPI into the top 45 (at-large range). I think Portland's at-large hopes are very slim; their best shot at regionals is to win the WCC, and my money is still on San Diego to do that.

    MJ (New York): Why not Miami for a national seed? The Canes are 34-11, are currently ranked 8 in the RPI Index and 15 in SOS and never been swept in a series. Thats national seed material. And with series left at GT and at home against Virginia, where the Canes have a 14 game home winning streak, win those 2 series and why not Miami for a national seed? They would have just as good of a resume as anyone else out there!

Aaron Fitt: If Miami wins those series at Georgia Tech and home against Virginia, it will be a national seed, without question. But if not, I think their resume lacks meat. They have done well against the softer teams in their conference, and they have avoided being swept, but they have not actually won any of the three series they have played against sure-fire regional teams (Florida State, Virginia Tech and Florida). I want to see a signature series win on the resume before I start talking about Miami as a national seed. Fortunately, the last two weeks of the regular season provide opportunities to get those signature series wins.

    Chuck (Wichita): Any consideration for Wichita St. after pounding the Big 12 and winning a series against first place Illinois St. last week?

Aaron Fitt: Wichita is coming on strong, to be sure. That was a huge week for the shockers, hammering Kansas and Oklahoma State midweek, then winning that series against the Redbirds to get within a half-game of first place. Of course, they're still just two weeks removed from a 1-5 stretch against Southern Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana State and Kansas State. Maybe they can make us forget that stretch with another strong week against ORU and Creighton.

    Jason (Charlottesville, VA): Aaron, Do you think that Virginia's weekend starters Hultzen, Morey, and Winiarski (who's been very solid in ACC play) are starting to be mentioned in the same breath as the weekend starters for Texas and UCLA? Hultzen's been a stud all year, but it seems like Morey and Winiarski are getting hot at just the right time.

Aaron Fitt: No pitching staff in college baseball should be mentioned in the same breath as Texas', but Virginia's rotation is certainly above-average. As I mentioned in today's Three Strikes, Morey has really come on strong recently — I was on hand for his complete game Saturday, and he was very impressive. That slider can be devastating when he's really got it going.

    Tyler (Mtrtle Beach, SC): Do you think Coastal gets a national seed? Does South Carolina getting one factor into our chances?

Aaron Fitt: Right now, I think both teams are on track to get national seeds.

    Lionel (Nashville): Aaron, I'm an awfully proud alum of Auburn University today! We were a key hit away against Vanderbilt from having won 4 straight SEC series! My question to you is how close is Auburn to getting serious consideration as a regional host? What would Auburn need to accomplish down the stretch to get that bid?

Aaron Fitt: At No. 15 in the RPI and 12-9 in the SEC, I think Auburn has to be in the hosting discussion. The next two series are extremely winnable, both home against Mississippi State and Tennessee, and the Tigers close with a trip to Ole Miss. Going 5-4 in that stretch is a very reasonable expectation, and that would put Auburn at 17-13 in the league. I think that would put them in position to host, especially if LSU can't get back on track. The SEC will probably wind up with five hosts; and Florida and South Carolina look like locks, and Arkansas is still pretty safe, although it will find itself in a much more precarious position if it loses a third straight series this weekend against Ole Miss. The Rebels also seem pretty safe. That leaves Auburn and LSU competing for one hosting spot, assuming none of the others fall off.

    Matt L. (Sunflower State): Where am I wrong in my thinking? I am not sure any team from Kansas will even get an at-large regional bid. The Wildcats have the best shot, but Boydsworld says Kansas State needs to go 6-5 to have an RPI in the top 45. I don't see that happening as they play Texas, Texas A&M, and Kansas yet in the league. I don't see Texas losing to K-State at all and A&M seems to be playing right at the right time. As for Kansas, who know? They have about as good of a chance as winning out as they do of losing out. Pretty inconsistent. Do you think that even with a poor RPI, K-State will get in? I am starting to think that scheduling those easy games early will kill the Cats chances.

Aaron Fitt: I discussed K-State in detail in last week's stock report — I agree with you that Kansas State's finishing stretch is tough, and I am not sold that the Wildcats are a safe bet for regionals. You are on target when it comes to the Jayhawks, too. But I have a feeling the Big 12 could be over-represented in regionals again this year, particularly with Conference USA looking like a one-bid league. One of those Kansas teams will probably find its way in.

    Dave (D.C.): So. Lefthander Danny Hultzen has been great for the top-ranked Cavaliers. Where do you see him going in the draft when he comes out?

Aaron Fitt: No later than the middle of the first round. To me, he's like a lefthanded Mike Leake, and Leake went in the top 10.

    Steve L. (Albany): What is the problem with the Oregon State Beavers? Are they losing because of lack of talent or do they need a club house leader?

Aaron Fitt: More than anything else, they're losing because their offense is extremely weak, and their pitching simply is not overpowering enough to make up for it. But there might be something to the leadership question. Would Darwin Barney and Mitch Canham and Kevin Gunderson have ever allowed things to get this bad? The 07 Beavers went through a rough patch, but the Barney/Canham leadership carried them through it. Where is that on this team?

    Brian C (Phoenix): If UCR gets a solid 3rd in the Big West and goes 3-3 against CSUF and UCI, do they make a regional?

Aaron Fitt: Not unless that 3-3 stretch is part of a 14-3 finish. At least, that's what Boyd's says they need to get into the top 45 in the RPI. Without a very strong finish, the Highlanders won't have the RPI to make regionals. The Big West looks like a two-bid league to me.

    Brian (Gainesville, FL): Aaron, I keep seeing regional projections that don't have Florida as a national seed. I believe you did have them as a national seed, but I'm just curious how that is justified nationally that they might not be. The Gators have lost one weekend series all season and it's a good loss at Ole Miss. Plus, they have the #1 strength of schedule. What am I missing?

Aaron Fitt: I would think that this week every projection will have the Gators as a national seed. Those last two weeks should have been pretty convincing.

    DC (Scottsdale): Have you and other BA staff considered adding the records for ranked teams against CURRENT top 25 teams? Just curious because ASU's 4-1 record against top 25 teams does not look terribly great (for strength of schedule purposes), but ASU is 11-2 (I believe) against current top 25 teams. I think this would be a better barometer to evaluate teams in light of strengths of schedules. Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: It would frankly be too much labor to go through every single week and update those records against the top 25 as new teams move in and out of the rankings. And even if we did it that way, that system would have its flaws too. For instance, San Diego and Fullerton and Rice were all struggling earlier this year, when all three fell out of the rankings. If you beat those teams a month ago, you weren't beating a top 25 team. If you beat them now, you are beating a top 25 team. Conversely, beating Clemson a month ago was more difficult and more impressive than beating Clemson now is. Looking at the rankings at the time of the meetings tends to more accurately reflect how well teams were playing at the time of the meetings, if that makes sense.

    Will (Louisville, KY): With GT and UCLA stubbing their toes of late, do Louisville's hopes for a national seed increase assuming they take care of business down the stretch?

Aaron Fitt: I think so, yes. I imagine the Cardinals will replace the Bruins as a national seed in tomorrow's Stock Report.

    Kevin (San Francisco): Hi Aaron, thanks for the great coverage of CBB! After getting swept at UW, does Stanford have a chance to rebuild its case for hosting a Regional? Remaining series are against LBSU, WSU, UofA and ASU.

Aaron Fitt: Stanford has been too wildly inconsistent to garner serious consideration for hosting a regional. Certainly, if Stanford got hot and won all those remaining series (and swept three of them, let's say), it would be back in the hosting mix, but I don't see that happening.

    Mike (Chicago): What will it take for East Carolina to get back into the field of 64?

Aaron Fitt: An automatic bid.

    TitansFan (Huntington Beach): Where do you think Brown and Colon will be drafted? Are they both first round locks? Thanks, as always, for the chat.

Aaron Fitt: Colon is a first-round lock, and I think Brown will not slip past the supplemental first round. I think Brown probably goes in the top 30 somewhere, too, but I wouldn't call him a lock, exactly.

    Matt (Oregon): With U. of Oregon's quality number of arms to put on the bump, do they have a realistic chance of winning a regional?

Aaron Fitt: They've got a realistic shot at hosting a regional, which means they've got a realistic shot at winning a regional, as crazy as that seems. That said, with a gun to my head, I don't take the Ducks to win a regional.

    Emmett (San Diego, CA): Is Tim Esmay going to become the permanent coach of the Sun Devils after the season?

Aaron Fitt: How could Arizona State hire anybody else? Esmay has done a masterful coaching job this year.

    David (Dallas): Other than Jungman, Cole, Workman, and Ruffin, what other Texas pitchers do you think have pro potential?

Aaron Fitt: Certainly freshmen Hoby Milner, Kiefer Nuncio and Josh Urban to, and Austin Dicharry does as well, although he has been sidelined with shoulder tendinitis. I spoke with Augie Garrido this morning, and he's what he said about Dicharry's status: "He's throwing now. He's not throwing off the mound yet, still in the part of rehab where he's taking it week by week. I would imagine he could be back. The hard thing would be to find a role for him. A person with tendinitis that's lost their release point, a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of timing, to try to put them in there in a relief role would be the hardest thing to do. It would be much better for him to start. We'll have to be careful with him because he's really a good pitcher."

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that's all I've got time for today. Thanks for all the fine questions, and see you again next week!