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Around the Bases Looks Forward to the Start of the 'Real' Season // 03.12.12

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The highlights of the weekend that was in SEC baseball and what it means

IT'S THE OTHER KIND OF YEAR IN ATHENS: Whenever a team starts out 11-2 against a relatively weak slate, you have to wonder if the team is that good or just running through the weak part of the schedule. After a three-game sweep by UCLA in Athens with a combined score of 16-9, it's pretty clear that Georgia is in the latter category. You don't even have to take a non-Georgia fan's word for it. If it wasn't a punchless five-hit, 11-strikeout performance by the offense on Friday, it was a four-error effort by the defense on Saturday or a three-wild pitch, two-HBP, two-walk inning by the pitching staff on Sunday. It might be too early to say that it is one of those years for the Bulldogs, who were able to get to the NCAA tournament and so might in be in line for a David Perno dip this year. But it's starting to look a lot like it.

FLORIDA'S BEST START: The Gators coasted past Florida Gulf Coast University over the weekend, which is pretty much what the No. 1 team in the nation should do -- so in that sense, it's not notable. What is notable is that Florida has now put together the best start to this point in Gators history. The only loss for Florida so far is to Cal State-Fullerton -- no problems there -- leaving the Gators rightfully confident as they head into the SEC season. Oh, there's also a little game Tuesday with a university from Tallahassee that some fans might care about a bit.

CONFERENCE PLAY STARTS THIS WEEKEND: The best news for us is that this is the last abbreviated ATB this year, because SEC baseball starts with the series this weekend. The most intriguing series of the weekend involved Kentucky, a phrase which has perhaps never been uttered before in the history of SEC baseball; the undefeated Wildcats host reigning national champions South Carolina in their conference opener. Mississippi State and LSU square off in Baton Rouge. Florida squares off with a reeling Vanderbilt that is off to a terrible start for a preseason national title contender; Tennessee's visit to Georgia could quickly clarify which of those teams is going to be a contender in the SEC East. Alabama visits Arkansas and Auburn travels to Oxford to face Ole Miss.

MIDWEEK GAMES: Some of the notable games happening on days of the week after Sunday and before Friday ... LSU plays Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday after the Irish stopped the Bengals' eight-game winning streak on Sunday ... Alabama goes for payback for a 14-2 loss against Southern Miss earlier this season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET ... Florida will square off against FSU in Gainesville at the same time ... Ole Miss travels to Louisville to take on a Cards team coming off two straight losses; the two game set starts Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and wraps up Wednesday at noon ...