With the single-elimination round dispensed with -- as well as the slender NCAA tournament hopes of South Carolina and Kentucky -- it's time for the top four seeds to join the fray in Hoover. LSU, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Florida start play with the hopes of securing a national seed, though LSU is considered a lock and the main competition is probably to figure out which two of the other three get a top eight seed in the national playoff. Wednesday is also our next-to-last day of wall-to-wall SEC tournament play, so watch it while you can. We're in a double-elimination mode at this point, though that will change again soon enough.
Game 5: (3) Texas A&M vs. (11) Alabama
10:30 a.m. ET | SEC Network | WatchESPN | Sirius 219 | XM 190
It's hard to get a grasp on how much the Aggies need this game. They're seventh in the RPI (all rankings as of May 19), which would put them in a prime position for a national seed in the NCAA tournament, but a quick out at Hoover (including a loss to the Tide) could change things. It might knock A&M down just enough for some teams that are right behind TAMU to pass it in the race to secure home-field advantage until the College World Series. On the other hand, Alabama desperately needs to win as many games as it can in the tournament, and the Aggies would make a nice addition to the resume that the NCAA selection committee will consider. Texas A&M won the regular season series, two games to one.
Game 6: (2) Vanderbilt vs. (7) Missouri
TBA (based on conclusion of Game 5) | SEC Network | WatchESPN | Sirius 219 | XM 190
Vanderbilt is also in a tricky position. The Commodores sit at No. 12 in the RPI, four spots back of what they need to get a national seed if the committee goes strictly by that ranking. Beating Missouri is probably not going to do much to help that cause, but losing could hurt it. Missouri, meanwhile, still needs as many wins as it can get to try to bolster its own resume for making the field at all. Vanderbilt swept Mizzou by a combined 26-6 score this season.
Missouri is 0-9 vs. Vanderbilt since joining the SEC, outscored in those games 81-21— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) May 19, 2015
There's a first time for everything?
Game 7: (1) LSU vs. (9) Auburn
5:30 p.m. ET | SEC Network | WatchESPN | SiriusXM 91
This might be the game with the least at stake of all of them. LSU is going to be a national seed unless they get swept out of Hoover while losing each game by 50 runs. Even then, the Bayou Bengals might end up at No. 8. Auburn, meanwhile, is probably still a ways away from hosting a regional, but we're quickly getting to the point where the Plainsmen missing the NCAA tournament would be a surprise. LSU took two out of three in the regular season, but it was close; each team scored precisely 10 total runs in that series.
Game 8: (4) Florida vs. (5) Arkansas
TBA (based on conclusion of Game 5) | SEC Network | WatchESPN | SiriusXM 91
This game might mean slightly more to Florida than the match-up with Auburn does to LSU; the Gators are not quite as much of a lock for a national seed. Meanwhile, Arkansas at this point might actually be a little bit further than Auburn from hosting a regional -- at least based on RPI, which might not be determinative. In any case, the SEC Network crew on Tuesday said it might take winning the entire tournament or at least getting close for the Hogs to wrap up a bid. The bigger question for the Hogs is whether they can, you know, score when they get runners on base.