The SEC baseball tournament -- one of the conference's most entertaining events outside of football season -- kicks of this morning in the first of three all-day hardball feasts. The first round is single-elimination.
(11) TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (RPI: 45) vs. (6) VANDERBILT COMMODORES (RPI: 6)
10:30 a.m. ET; SportSouth / ESPN3
Tennessee (31-22; .739 OPS; 3.43 ERA)
Vanderbilt (40-16; .759 OPS; 2.53 ERA)
In-state rivals clash in a game that means a lot to both. For Tennessee, appearing in Hoover for the first time since 2007, the SEC tournament is a chance to make a closing statement to the NCAA selection committee. Vanderbilt is still in the running for a national seed, particularly if Ole Miss or South Carolina stumble in the conference playoff. The numbers say the Commodores are better, but the season series actually went to the Vols, who won two of the three games between the teams. Give the edge to Vanderbilt.
SEC Baseball Tournament
SEC Baseball Tournament
(10) TEXAS A&M AGGIES (RPI: 33) vs. (7) ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (RPI: 41)
30 minutes after Tennessee-Vanderbilt ends; SportSouth / ESPN3
Texas A&M (32-23; .749 OPS; 3.57 ERA)
Arkansas (34-21; .719 OPS; 2.41 ERA)
Didn't these two teams just play each other? Yep, a couple of weeks ago -- and it was a whale of a series. The winning team scored the decisive run in its last turn at the plate in each game. First, there was the walk-off victory for Arkansas on Friday, followed by the Hogs winning the Saturday game on the string a four-run eighth inning and capped off by the Aggies finally getting a win in 10 innings Sunday. Arkansas' style of baseball probably works a bit better in Hoover.
(9) KENTUCKY WILDCATS (RPI: 22) vs. (8) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (RPI: 24)
5:30 p.m. ET; CSS / ESPN3
Kentucky (32-21; .859 OPS; 4.04 ERA)
Alabama (33-21; .744 OPS; 2.41 ERA)
Given the way that the seedings worked out, this could be one of the more competitive and interesting games of the day. The problem for the Wildcats -- who lead the league in OPS by nearly 70 points -- is that Hoover is not anything like their home stadium, and offensively dominant teams don't necessarily do as well here as pitching-oriented teams ... like, say, Alabama. The Tide took two out of three when these teams met in the regular season, and there's good reason to think they'll make it three out of four tonight.
(12) GEORGIA BULLDOGS (RPI: 55) vs. (5) MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (RPI: 30)
30 minutes after Kentucky-Alabama; CSS / ESPN3
Georgia (25-28; .670 OPS; 4.33 ERA)
Mississippi State (35-19; .704 OPS; 2.85 ERA)
The battle of the bulldogs will serve as the nightcap, possibly taking you through the midnight hour. And if only there were some reason to think that Georgia had the slightest chance for some late-evening magic. But the Dawgs are next-to-last in OPS -- only Missouri (10) has fewer home runs than Georgia (13) -- and dead last in ERA in the SEC. Meanwhile, the Western Division Bulldogs have been on a bit of a run lately; whether that has to do with Mississippi State or the quality of its opponents is open to interpretation. Either way, it's bad news for Georgia.