Posted: 9:00 a.m. Monday, May 13, 2013
Entering the final week of conference play in SEC baseball, there are surprisingly few things that are up for grabs. Both divisions and the top seed have both been claimed. But this weekend will still bring a few results that could decide the fate of some teams, so let's take a look.
What's decided ...
Vanderbilt wins the league and will be the top seed. We've already talked about the pretty amazing turnaround by Tim Corbin's team this season, and it paid off over the weekend with an SEC regular-season championship. And not one of those infuriating "split" championships -- given the fact that the Commodores have one fewer loss, they will take the top spot even if they get swept and LSU sweeps. Not that it matters much; with Vanderbilt having won 12 straight after the weekend, losing three in a row looks like a distant possibility.
LSU wins the SEC West and gets the No. 2 seed. Arkansas is the only team that made this even a little bit close going down to the end, and the Tigers will now take the division. In fact, LSU's win kind of demonstrates the dynamics for both divisions when it comes to conference play this year: One really good team (Vanderbilt, LSU), one good team (South Carolina, Arkansas), and several solid teams (though Mississippi State and Ole Miss are even with or better than the Gamecocks and Razorbacks in overall record). Then there are Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia, which are Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia.
Most of the field of 12 for Hoover is set. The following teams are going: Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M; and Auburn. That's 10 of the 12, if you're keeping track at home, and that's just officially. The likelihood of Georgia getting the wins it needs against Florida to stay alive is insignificant.
What's not decided ...
The No. 11 and No. 12 seeds. In a normal year, your humble correspondent would rant even more emphatically about the stupidity of a 14-team league having 12 seeds in its baseball tournament (it's worse than professional hockey), but at least it gives us something to pay attention to this year. Tennessee and Georgia are still in this thing, technically, at least in part because they have missed two and three games, respectively. The Dawgs face perhaps the longest odds: They need to sweep Florida (stop laughing), see Kentucky sweep Missouri and see Tennessee lose at least two to Texas A&M.; Tennessee has a few more routes to the Top 12, but not many.
Who's eligible for the NCAAs. This is not the same as who will go to the NCAA tournament, which will depend at least as much on what some teams do at Hoover as where they stand when they get there. However, the tournament requires a winning overall record to be eligible to play, which means that any team with at least three more wins than losses (you can't lose more than twice at Hoover) will go to Hoover knowing they will emerge as eligible. Already that list includes Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn. Florida needs two wins when they play Georgia. Kentucky needs to win one, either against Indiana on Tuesday or at Missouri over the weekend. Texas A&M; needs two wins out of its game against University of Texas-Pan American (yes, that's a real thing) and series against Tennessee. Tennessee is in a category by itself; the Vols need to win out in the regular season and need to win out at Hoover to get in. Missouri and Georgia are out.