As promised, here is the complete bracket and schedule for the SEC baseball tourney, beginning tomorrow in Hoover. All games are on SEC Network and affiliated streams, and all times are central; successive games are always preceded by about a one-hour break for warmups, field resurfacing etc.
There’s usually one day that’s good for rain, and that day happens to be tomorrow (68%). But it is expected to be light, and the rest of the week is very pleasant: upper 70s/low 80s, partly cloudy skies. Great week for baseball.
Below follows a quick remark or two about select teams, and what’s at stake.
Is it Summer yet?
Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi State. They’re toast. Worse, two of the three aren’t even competitive.
Could spring a surprise
Ole Miss — outstanding offense, but the pitching is a catastrophe. Bats can get hot quick...if they care. They haven’t of late.
Texas A&M — This is a team that can blast Florida by a dozen runs a game, and then get smoked the very next series by a dozen runs. Bad, bad road pitching. Think: Ole Miss, but they still want to be here.
South Carolina — Under the radar offense that has struggled against quality pitching. But if your guy doesn’t have it on the mound that afternoon, they’ll long-ball you to Spartanburg: only LSU, Florida, and Tennessee are better.
Auburn — They’re not a dead-ender, but they’re not as good as their schedule either, which was a breezy slip and slide into late-season relevance. They caught LSU in a mini-slump in Lee County, and were able to stymie the ‘Cocks batters. But against the Top Half of the league, overall they’re below .500 despite having oodles of favorable home series. Drew three of the bottom four out of the east too.
LSU, Kentucky — Both are legitimate Top 5 teams when everything is clicking. But, man, the inconsistency is killing both of them. Especially the Wildcats, who began 26-2 or something absurd, then fell into a deep slump. As for LSU, the pitching is a bit weaker than usual, but they can outscore anyone. Either can win the whole thing...or meekly bow out.
Tennessee — Love seeing these jackasses all the way down here. The Vols were expected to drop off a bit this year, and they have. But they remain a remarkably dangerous, talented team that also had the misfortune of playing the vastly better division. The Vols would likely be a runner-up in the West, instead of being buried at 5th in the Eastern division.
Alabama — Ignore that Auburn has the SEC’s best late-season record, Alabama has been the better team, including winning four of its last six series (with three sweeps thrown in there). Three legit SEC pitchers, a dangerous outfield lineup, lots of power, a de facto home game, and a renewed team that is on a mission.
Vanderbilt — Shocker: Vandy leads the SEC in almost every pitching category...again. The offense is a bit anemic, but when you only need to push 2-3 across the plate every night, you’re set up pretty well for pitchers duels. And every game against VU is a pitching duel.
Florida — Almost as complete a team as you’ll find: Top 3 offense, Top 3 fielding...and a pitching staff that makes Arkansas and Aggie look like the ‘99 Yankees. Not that they get shelled; they just give up a lot of runs in spurts. They’ll beat you 4-0 one game, then beat you 13-11 the next. They’ve been particularly sus on the road, with the second-to-worst home/away ERA differential of the Top 5 SEC teams. But godspeed trying to outscore them. You usually can’t. They always have a dangerous hitter in the box. Because clutch offense is a premium in the postseason, and in a year where power has been off the charts, this is probably my favorite to take it home.
Arkansas — Because of course, it’s the Omahogs. The biggest question is, after so many sweet home series where the Hogs were narrowly escaping, will that translate to post-season success? They’re a middle-of-the-road offense and defense — with a team ERA closer to 5 than 4. It could be a quick exit for Arkansas, TBH. This is my favorite to have the most disappointed fans, the earliest. Runners-up: Kentucky, LSU.
Dig in. We’ll leave this preview/thread up for you this week to chime in.
How many wins does ‘Bama need to secure to host a regional (38-17, RPI 11)
They’ve done enough now
At least beat Kentucky, and get to the Florida game.
Two wins, for 40 on the year, makes them a lock
They won’t host unless they get super-hot
No matter what happens, Bama won’t host: the NCAA doesn’t want the spotlight on that gambling allegation