Things were looking pretty dire for LSU as the ninth inning started in its elimination game against Alabama on Friday. By that point, the Tigers had been outscored 6-2 by the Tide and Arkansas over the last 17 innings, and the first two batters of the ninth were quickly retired on a double play.
But watch how quickly things can change in baseball: A single, double and single was all the Tigers needed to put two quick runs on the board and take the 3-2 lead that would serve as the game's final score. Suddenly, Alabama was headed back to Tuscaloosa and LSU was getting ready for a rematch with Arkansas in the SEC tournament semifinals.
If LSU can use the momentum from that rebound to defeat Arkansas, and particularly if Vanderbilt goes down to Texas A&M tonight, there's the outside chance that the Tigers could move up in the national seed pecking order. That's not a huge deal, except that it tends to give you a little bit easier opponent when the super regionals get started. (Assuming everything goes the way that you would expect it to go, which is a dicey proposition in the NCAA tournament.) Even if Vanderbilt gets past Texas A&M, a win by LSU in a head-to-head SEC title game could serve as the Tigers' closing statement to the selection committee.
All of that adds some intrigue to the LSU-Arkansas game, which could also serve as the game that locks down Arkansas' bid to host a regional. After all, LSU is certain to be a national seed of some variety in the NCAA playoffs, meaning that a win by Arkansas against the Tigers would provide yet another data point in the Hogs' fight to clench a hosting opportunity.
For Alabama, the game really doesn't matter. My personal thoughts (and the experts are with me on this one) are that the Tide have locked down their spot in the NCAA tournament with what they accomplished in Hoover this week. The goals Alabama would have listed heading into the conference tournament have already been achieved; but for LSU, there's still a little bit left to play for.