College Top 25 Chat: May 14

Follow me on Twitter

Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody. Only one more Monday chat left this season after today — time does fly. Hope everybody had a good week 13 and a happy Mother's Day. Let's chat!

    Terry (Houston): Would taking 2 out of 3 from Central Florida and winning the CUSA tournament guarantee a National seed for Rice?

Aaron Fitt: I wouldn't say "guarantee," no, but I think the Owls stand a pretty good chance to snag a national seed under that scenario. Lose this weekend and I think their national seed hopes are dashed.

    Joel (Baltimore, MD): As a Beaver it's hard to take, but the Ducks are cruising. Do they, though, have the arms to get them to Omaha? Is the depth in the pitching staff sufficient?

Aaron Fitt: Well, I have questioned Oregon's pitching depth all season, but the Ducks have actually handled themselves quite well every time they've had to deal with a five-game week (like two weeks ago, when they went 4-1 on the road against Gonzaga and Arizona). Also, they're likely to be home in regionals and supers, and if they can stay in the winner's bracket in regionals, they could get to Omaha without having to use more than three starting pitchers. The bullpen depth is good enough, with Tommy Thorpe and Joey Housey setting up Jimmie Sherfy. You can make a very deep postseason run using just five or six guys (that's what South Carolina did last year, for instance, and it's what the Beavers typically did during their title years, too).

    Tom (Columbia, SC): South Carolina's overall record is 38-13 and they are 11-10 in one-run games. Does the tournament selection committee take into account the fact that South Carolina has lost 10 of 13 games by one-run when selecting the top eight national seeds? I know we have a lot of work to do this week. Thanks for taking my question.

Aaron Fitt: I don't think so — ultimately, a loss is a loss. But South Carolina is sitting pretty regardless.

    David (Thousand Oaks): Aaron ... Curious as to the logic behind Fullerton being ranked ahead of UCLA. UCLA has beaten Fullerton head-to-head, has a stronger RPI, a better overall record, a significantly better record against Top 25 and plays in a conference that is on a different planet than Fullerton in terms of strength. Additionally, UCLA has taken series series against your #7 (previous #2), 14, 15, 18 and 23 ranked teams. Six teams from the Pac12 are in your Top 25 while there is not another Big West team close to the Top 25 so the grind and success of UCLA is dominant by all measures it seems. Thanks Aaron.

Aaron Fitt: There are a lot of impressive things about UCLA's season, and certainly I'd be comfortable with the Bruins being ranked higher. But they also have four series losses (tied with LSU for most of any team in our top 24), while the Titans haven't lost a series since the first weekend at Florida. Yes, UCLA's conference schedule is much more rigorous, of course. But Fullerton really, really tested itself in the preconference, going to Gainesville (and winning a game), going to Texas A&M (and winning the series), hosting TCU (and winning that series), going to Arizona State for two midweeks (and splitting those). The Titans did everything they could to play a strong schedule and handled that schedule with remarkable aplomb, and they have taken care of business in their conference without any hiccups. No need to penalize Fullerton for playing in a weaker conference when the Titans have proven they can hang with the big boys.

    jb (SC): Where do you see Clemson falling in thr post season?

Aaron Fitt: A No. 2 seed in a regional. But not in Columbia, since everyone tells me that would result in some kind of apocalypse any time I have the audacity to suggest it as a possibility...

    Pat (Chicago): Since everyone else will undoubtedly be asking about bubbles/ seeding, I thought I'd mix it up a little. Do you think the transfer rule requiring a player to sit out a year has been a good thing for college baseball? I'm a Tulane fan and, thus, biased since our program was the beneficiary of some outstanding transfers over the years - but I'll look at it from the opposite vantage point..doesn't it seem inequitable that a kid on 25% scholarship at a pricey school like Tulane is penalized for transferring when he and his family might be be paying 30K in tuition for him to sit on the bench? Any chance this rule will ever be changed back? I'm curious about your thoughts. Thanks,

Aaron Fitt: Thanks for the change of pace, Pat! The fact that baseball is not a full-scholarship sport is nettlesome when it comes to the transfer rules. The reason the NCAA started requiring teams to give players at least a 25 percent scholarship was so it could justify eliminating the one-time transfer exemption, but really that is just a fig leaf. A 25-percent scholarship is a drop in the bucket for a player at an expensive private school, and you're right that it is rather unfair to restrict that player's movements. This was a compromise solution aimed at fixing baseball's APR, and it has accomplished that goal, so any negative repercussions have been swept under the rug. Along those same lines, I can't imagine the transfer rule ever being reversed.

    Scott (Virginia): Aaron - let's talk conference tournies. Am I wrong to think that the selection committee undervalues them? I feel the same way about the basketball selection committee. As an example, if NC State wins the ACC tourney, would they still be on the outside looking in at a natl seed (assuming the teams ahead of them finish the regular season strong)?

Aaron Fitt: I have very mixed opinions about the value of conference tournaments. On the one hand, it's great that it gives a team that hasn't had an at-large caliber season some hope that it can still get hot at the right time and play its way into a regional. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of overvaluing one weekend at the expense of an entire 14-week body of work. I think a conference tournament title in a major conference like the ACC should have some weight if a team is on the borderline of hosting or getting a national seed, but you are right that the committee doesn't seem to work that way (Virginia getting shipped to Irvine after winning the ACC tourney in 2009 comes to mind). Conference tournaments should be a factor in the committee's deliberations, just not an overriding factor, if that makes sense.

    Francis (Chicago): Aaron, I appreciated your foreshadowing last week, which probably led to several clicks on your site from Tulane people wanting to know about the Stock report. If Tulane can finish third in CUSA are they in the tournament regardless of their RPI? If not, how many games in the conference tourney do they have to win? They had a rough weekend injury wise and if the weather hadn't intervened probably would have swept. I'm looking at SELA as the bogey team to beat for a spot, and though they have a better RPI, we own 3-0 advantage on them this year.

Aaron Fitt: Maybe I should start pandering for page views more often! (OK maybe not — nobody wants an all-SEC chat. Well, except for the SEC...) Anyway, losing Cannizaro hurts — Rick Jones has raved about the impact he has had on the infield defensively. I don't think finishing in third place in C-USA is enough with that RPI. Tulane is going to have to bolster its case with some good wins in the conference tournament, I think. The margin for error is so slim with Tulane that it probably hurt its cause more than helped it by winning two out of three against Houston — it really needed a sweep. But again, I'm not sure I'll be able to find 64 teams with stronger cases in tomorrow's Stock Report. Maybe this is one of those screwy years where the committee places less emphasis on the RPI (I, for one, would welcome that). We'll see...

    Chicago Boiler (Chicago): Is there a better college baseball story this weekend than the Purdue Boilermakers winning their first Big Ten title since 1909? Boiler up!!!!

Aaron Fitt: I think that's got my vote. Congratulations to the Boilermakers finally getting that monkey off their backs — that's got to feel good.

    Donnell (Seattle): Aaron, how can you drop LSU six spots when they gave the series away and then they had exams the same week and had no mid-week games. LSU is better than some of the teams ahead of them and you punish them for one bad weekend in a long time.

Aaron Fitt: Well only two teams in our top 24 have lost four weekend series: LSU and UCLA. Now they are ranked near each other. Those teams have pretty similar resumes — they've had great seasons and won a lot of big series against very good opponents, but they've also had some hiccups (granted most have been against good teams, but a series loss is a series loss). And this weekend, LSU lost a home series against a team that was below .500 entering the weekend. So yeah, it's a little harsh to drop six spots after a 1-2 week, but Oregon deserved to move up (as the Pac-12 leader, which has won series at Stanford, at UCLA, at Arizona and swept Arizona State), and Fullerton did not deserve to drop, which is how LSU wound up at No. 9.

    Steve (Greenville, SC): Well, If only 3 SEC teams get a national seed who is left out? Is the loser of the USC-LSU series going to be left out or if Kentucky loses 2 of 3 at Miss State are they left out? Funny how the lock Florida is the 3rd place team in the East. 4th overall in the SEC....

Aaron Fitt: It's weird, isn't it? You can make compelling cases for all four, and you can also construct arguments against all four. South Carolina is the hottest team, but it lost the head-to-head series against the best teams it has played, Kentucky and Florida. The Gators have the best RPI and a ridiculous 16-9 record against the top 25 in the RPI, but as you mentioned they are in fourth place. LSU is leading the West, has a robust RPI and a series win at Florida, but it also has four series losses, most of any of these teams. Kentucky is in first place overall but played the softest nonconference schedule, lost the head-to-head against the Gators (but beat the Tigers and Gamecocks), and is the lowest in the RPI. You could drive yourself crazy trying to sort this out. Still, the Gators are just about a lock, and the team that wins the SEC should be a lock as well. If that is Kentucky, that would mean LSU and South Carolina might be playing for a national seed... or maybe all four of them will get one. There is still that possibility.

    Ted (Earlysville, VA): U VA had some big holes to fill from last season, yet are playing great ball and seem to be peaking at the right time. What do you think of the job Coach O'Connor and his staff have done, and their chances of hosting a regional?

Aaron Fitt: A characteristically stellar coaching job by one of the best coaching staffs in the business. That team really got better as the season progressed, and now they are right in the mix to host a regional. I'll break down their chances in detail in tomorrow's Stock Report, but I will add that I really didn't expect Virginia to be in the mix to host a regional about 8 weeks ago.

    love these chats (so cal): A few quesation...USD or Pepperdine to win the WCC? Are both teams safe to get an at large if they don't win the conference title? Do you like that they got rid of the best of 3 series to win the conference? And how do you see those teams in the post season?

Aaron Fitt: I'm going to stick with the Toreros, my pick all season long, but it really could go either way. Looks like it will come down to that series in Malibu in two weeks, and Pepperdine has played well down the stretch, winning their last five series. I think USD is more offensive but Pepperdine is better defensively, especially up the middle. It should be a good matchup, and I think both teams ultimately to wind up in regionalswhere I think USD has the higher ceiling, but I wouldn't pick either team to win a regional at this stage (though one of them could get hot). The WCC is actually going to a real conference tournament starting next year, and the coaches seem excited about it.

    Mike (Dallas): Any chance TCU hosts a regional if they win out regular season and MWC Tournament?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think so — just too many teams to leapfrog, if you'll pardon the pun.

    Nick DiCo (Raleigh, NC): A long distance hello all the way from Raleigh! My question is, what will be a better sign of how good/dangerous NC State is in Regional & Super Regional (hopefully) play - this upcoming weekend series against #1 Florida State in Tallahassee or the ACC Championship Series in Greensboro? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: I put more stock in weekend series than conference tournaments, where the schedule is completely different and teams aren't in their usual rhythm. If you can win a three-games series against a good club in a hostile location, you are good enough to make a deep postseason run. But if NC State doesn't win this series in Tallahassee, it doesn't disqualify the Wolfpack as a legit postseason contender. The 'Pack won't have to go through Tallahassee in the NCAA tournament, of course.

    Greg (Los Angeles, CA): Has Gelalich played himself into late first round contention? First team all american possibilities?

Aaron Fitt: No for first-round consideration, yes for first-team All-America contention. Scouts like him as more of a second/third-rounder for this draft.

    Dave (Jackson, MS): I assume Kentucky, LSU, Florida, and South Carolina are locks to host, but what are the chances the SEC gets a fifth site and what must Ole Miss do over the next 10-12 days to be that host?

Aaron Fitt: Ole Miss is still an outside possibility, but it's awfully crowded. I think the Rebels need to basically win out and have a strong showing in Hoover, and they need a lot of help from other teams faltering. Last week, I had Stanford, Virginia and Arizona as my last three hosts; I would still have those three teams ahead of Ole Miss, and I'd have Texas A&M and UCF ahead of the Rebels as well. So really, you'd need three of those five teams to finish poorly to have a chance, the way I see it.

    Keith (Long Island): did st johns lose any chance of an at large bid by losing the series against louisville?

Aaron Fitt: I won't go so far as to say the Johnnies are completely out of the at-large race, because they are still leading the Big East and are still in the 50s in the RPI. But Ed Blankmeyer said last week that he knew the last two weeks would basically decide his team's at-large fate, so losing the Louisville series was a big blow.

    Josh (Mobile, AL): Hey Aaron, say South Carolina takes 2 of 3 from LSU, regardless of how the East shakes out, will they be a lock for a National Seed? Or will the committee want to reward LSU for winning the weaker West? Also, FSU goes 1—3 and they're still #1? They're 0-3 against UF and haven't played a weekend series against a top-10 caliber team yet this season.

Aaron Fitt: I have to imagine whichever team wins that SC-LSU series will be a national seed, period. If South Carolina loses that series, I think it will find itself outside of the top 8 because it will have lost series against the SEC's other big 3. In that scenario, LSU, Kentucky and Florida will all be 2-1 in series against the other big 3. That is a clear separator. As for Florida State — this was a tough week to decide No. 1. None of us loved keeping FSU there after a 1-3 week, and we entertained five total candidates for the top spot. Had South Carolina swept its two games against Georgia, it would have likely been No. 1, but a split wasn't quite enough to dislodge a team that was utterly dominating the ACC and still hadn't lost a series all year as of our meeting this morning (and FSU then proceeded to lose the first game of today's doubleheader, so that series streak is over... but hindsight is 20/20).

    Rick M. (Nashville, Ill.): The Billikens from Saint Louis University have 37 wins (still have four regular-season games remaining) and will be the No. 1 seed at the A-10 Championship. Their RPI is not the best, but if they were to advance to the A-10 title game and lose, any chance at an at-large bid?

Aaron Fitt: Afraid not — that's the reality of life in the A-10, and Billikens coach Darin Hendrickson knows it (he acknowledged as much last week in our Weekend Preview). Saint Louis is No. 137 in the RPI, and you have zero chance of getting an at-large spot if you are outside the top, say, 65 (and even teams outside the top 50 are generally viewed as real long shots).

    LMU Lion (Joplin, MO): The WCC picture is slightly muddled, and LMU will hopefully screw things up even more by creeping up and winning the title. Now that Gonzaga has floundered, we are most likely not looking at three teams in the postseason, are we? And speaking of LMU, their young Friday and Saturday starters are making me optimistic about the future.

Aaron Fitt: Indeed, Gonzaga is trending in the wrong direction, and I think they'll be on the wrong side of the bubble in tomorrow's Stock Report, thus making the WCC a two-bid league barring LMU crashing the party. But yes, you should feel very good about LMU's future. We ranked their recruiting class in the top 25 this fall, and those freshmen are backing up the accolades. Welmon and Megill are already very good — they will be even better in the next two years.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by, as always!