The final weekend of SEC baseball didn't disappoint, with all but one team (Missouri) entering the weekend with something to play for. By Saturday, that universe was a bit smaller, but not much -- most of the seedings were unsettled, four teams still had a chance to get the final two first-round byes and there was still a chance at a split title in the SEC West.
|Final SEC Standings|
|Florida Gators||21-9||37-19||--||Ole Miss Rebels||19-11||40-16||--|
|South Carolina Gamecocks||18-12||42-14||3.0||LSU Tigers||17-11-1||40-14-1||1.0|
|Vanderbilt Commodores||17-13||40-16||4.0||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||18-12||35-20||1.0|
|Kentucky Wildcats||14-16||32-22||7.0||Arkansas Razorbacks||16-14||35-21||3.0|
|Tennessee Volunteers||12-18||31-22||9.0||Alabama Crimson Tide||15-14||34-21||3.5|
|Georgia Bulldogs||11-18-1||26-28-1||9.5||Texas A&M Aggies||14-16||33-23||5.0|
|Missouri Tigers||6-24||20-33||15.0||Auburn Tigers||10-20||28-28||9.0|
The teams without anything tangible to play for Saturday kind of looked like they had nothing tangible to play for -- Florida dropped the final game of its series against Tennessee, 7-5, while Ole Miss allowed Texas A&M to score four runs in the bottom of the eight for the 9-6 win.
The bigger story of the day would be whether Auburn could find a way to squeak in the tournament and which teams would get the two top-four seeds -- featuring first-round byes in the SEC tournament -- that were still in play. LSU's 8-1 win against Auburn, capping off a sweep that featured a 29-4 run differential, gave LSU one of the top-four seeds and eliminated Vanderbilt from contention for the first-round bye. Auburn's fate had by that time already been sealed by Georgia's 11-10 victory against Kentucky, which knocked the Plainsmen out of the conference event.
The LSU win also didn't end up mattering much to the Commodores. South Carolina staged an eighth-inning, four-run rally of its own to down Vanderbilt, 6-3 -- a result that could also play into the debate over which SEC teams will get national seeds in the NCAA tournament. But the Gamecocks still needed an Alabama win against Mississippi State to get the fourth seed in Hoover. And despite some offensive struggles, the Tide's pitching held on in a 2-1 win against the Bulldogs -- which also cost Mississippi State the chance to split the division title with Ole Miss. Not long after, Arkansas wrapped up an 11-inning, 7-5 win against hapless Missouri to conclude the SEC regular season.
SEC Tournament Seeding
|2||Ole Miss Rebels||19-11|
|4||South Carolina Gamecocks||18-12|
|5||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||18-12|
|8||Alabama Crimson Tide||15-14|
|10||Texas A&M Aggies||14-16|
First-round Games (Single-elimination; Tuesday, May 20):
(6) Vanderbilt Commodores vs. (11) Tennesee Volunteers, 10:30 a.m. ET, SportSouth / ESPN3
(7) Arkansas Razorbacks vs. (10) Texas A&M Aggies, 30 minutes after Vanderbilt-Tennessee ends, SportSouth / ESPN3
(8) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (9) Kentucky Wildcats, 5:30 p.m. ET, CSS / ESPN3
(5) Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. (12) Georgia Bulldogs, 30 minutes after Alabama-Kentucky ends, CSS / ESPN3
From there, we go to a double-elimination format until the semifinals. There's a PDF of the full bracket here.
Florida is a mortal lock for a national seed in the NCAA tournament at this point. I still feel like the SEC is only likely to get one other national seed, with Ole Miss and South Carolina going into the SEC tournament about even (depending on what the RPI looks like) and Vanderbilt in third. If two of those three teams go deep into the conference tournament, it could give the SEC a total of three seeds. Four isn't happening.
As far as teams just fighting to get into the national tournament: Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia did themselves no favors this weekend, with all three of them losing their series. Georgia also needs to win three games in Hoover just to get eligible for the national playoffs. The Aggies and the Vols also probably need to win one or two to feel good about their chances -- but, again, this will all be a lot clearer when we get a look at the new RPI calculations next week.