As in, one SEC series left. Despite the ups and downs this season has produced, in terms of setting ourselves up for the SEC Tournament, we currently sit as the #3 seed in the SEC tournament, and trail Ole Miss by 1 game for the SEC West Title. Croom Diaries updated the SEC standings this morning. Since the conference is so tight this year, there is a wide range of possibilities that lie in wait for the SEC Tournament. Let’s take a look at what could happen.
Worst Case Scenario
Worst case scenario is pretty easy. That would involve us going down to Tuscaloosa and getting swept. Ole Miss sweeps the Aggies while Florida gets swept by Tennessee and gives them the SEC title outright. Vandy manages to win at least a game against South Carolina. Last, LSU would manage to win at least two against Auburn. If all that happens, our seed in the SEC Tournament (and NCAA as well) would drop significantly. We currently sit at #3 for the SEC, and if everything played out like that, and assuming I did the math correctly, we would fall all the way to #7. It would pit us against Kentucky or Tennessee in all likelihood. We then get stuck in a one and done game, and I don’t like our odds in that situation.
Best Case Scenario
This one is also pretty easy. We sweep the Tide. Ole Miss loses two to the Aggies. Florida gets swept by Tennessee. If that happens, it really doesn’t matter what would happen in the rest of the league because that would make us co-champs with the Gators. I’m not sure who would get the top seed between MSU and Florida, but it is still surprising that we have a chance, though it is the very definition of a long shot, to at least share in the conference title. It probably won’t happen, but we still aren’t eliminated from a conference title.
Most Likely Scenario
This is what I anticipate ACTUALLY happening. Most importantly, let’s look at our series first.
Mississippi State at Alabama
A few weeks ago, I was afraid we might get swept in this series. Things have changed quite a bit since then. The most startling revelation to this baseball season has been how much better we have been on the road in conference play than we have been at home. With the home series win this past weekend, We finished 8-7 at home in league play. We already have 8 wins on the road, with a record of 8-4 on the road. We are also 8-1 against teams not named LSU on the road. The other factor is how badly Alabama has fallen off the cliff. 9 SEC games ago, they were 12-5 with a chance to win the Conference Title. In the last nine SEC games, they are 2-7 and needing lots of help to get into one of the top four seeds of the SEC Tournament. I think we can and should win at least 2 games this weekend. Thursday night could go either way. Fitts has been solid, but he isn’t the typical lock down Opening Weekend starter. Friday night is a must win with Mitchell going, so we need him to be as sharp as possible and get him some runs. Saturday is interesting. Preston Brown has had two starts since returning from injury. He hasn’t been good in either. Laster came in to relieve him on Sunday and looked really impressive. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get the start on Saturday. With as poor as Alabama is playing, a sweep would do wonders for our post season position. I think we win the series, but I don’t think a sweep is out of the realm of possibility.
Ole Miss at Texas A&M
This one may be the toughest series to get a gauge on. There is a lot a stake for both teams. Texas A&M is trying to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They had been playing strong in prior weeks taking 2 of 3 from us at Dudy Noble Field, winning 2 of 3 from LSU and coming remarkably close to sweeping them, but then they fell back to Earth this past weekend when they lost 2 of 3 to Arkansas. Ole Miss is playing for a possible outright SEC Championship and one of the coveted National Seeds in the NCAA Tournament. I could see either team winning this series. I’m giving a slight edge to the Aggies, as Ole Miss could still wrap up a National Seed in the SEC Tournament if they play well enough. I also think Texas A&M needs it more. Look for the Aggies to take 2 of 3.
Florida at Tennessee
One win by Florida eliminates us from a possible chance to share the SEC Title. Tennessee desperately needs to win this series, as their RPI has been plummeting, which I thought it would. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tennessee win two, but I think Florida gets two wins and puts the SEC Title out of reach of Ole Miss.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Outside of our own series and the Ole Miss series, this one is the next in line in terms of importance to how MSU will be seeded in the SEC Tournament. As of right now, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt all have 16-11 records. as of now, MSU holds the tie breaker over both because they have a 2-1 record against Vandy and USC. Since Vandy and USC are playing three games this weekend, there is obviously no way they can have the same record unless there was a rainout that wasn’t made up. If we wind up with the same record as either team, it benefits us more to have the same record as Vanderbilt. We own the definitive tie breaker with them. As best I can tell, if we finish with the same record as USC, we would lose that tiebreaker. The tiebreaker in that case would be record against the highest seeded same opponent. In that case, it would be Ole Miss. The Gamecocks went 2-1 against them, and we went 1-2 against the Rebels. So what happens? These teams have both struggled with consistency. At times, they have looked like the best teams in the country. At times, they have looked like the worst in the SEC. For whatever reason, I have more confidence in Vandy than I do South Carolina. Vandy is coming off a big series win against the Gators, and seem to be putting it together. The game is also going to be played in Nashville, so I like that as well. Look for Vandy to take 2 of 3 against the Gamecocks.
Where does that leave us?
If everything goes like that, I think this how the seeding for the tournament plays out.
1. Florida 21-9
2. Ole Miss 18-12
3. Mississippi State 18-12
4. Vanderbilt 18-12
5. South Carolina 17-13
6. LSU 16-12-1
7. Alabama 15-14
8. Arkansas 15-15
9. Texas A&M 15-15
10. Kentucky 14-16
11. Tennessee 13-17
12. Georgia 10-18-1
I’m pretty certain that is how the tie breaker for second, third, and fourth would play out if we finished in a 3 way tie with Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. How likely is it that the standings don’t look anything like this after Saturday? Probably really high. The conference has been really tight all year long, and there is a lot that could change on the final weekend of the season. Should make for some exciting baseball.