At the beginning of Day 3 of the 2012 NCAA Baseball Tournament, the SEC has posted a 14-2 record - and no less than six league members (Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt) are undefeated - meaning they will have two shots to win their regional championships.
Kentucky and Mississippi State must win elimination games today against Purdue and Samford respectively in order to stay alive; a win today will put them in their regional championship series. In order to advance the 'Cats would have to beat the home-team Boilers and take two against Kent State (3) after having having dropped an epic 21 inning battle to the Golden Flashes. On their end, the Maroon & White will have to avenge their loss to the Samford Bulldogs, and then would have the herculean task of taking down national # 3 seed FSU (1) in Tallahasee in two straight games.
Put all of that in perspective if you will. The SEC will be favored to advance as many as six squads to the Round of Sixteen (i.e. Super-Regional play) with an outside shot - a very, very outside, shot admittedly - to advance eight clubs to constitute half of the final 16.
Since Missouri and Texas A&M are still alive - albeit having to battle out of the loser's bracket - playing in their final Big XII season before joining the SEC for the 2013 season, it makes an even bigger statement about the strength of the SEC.
In fact, a good argument could be made that the 31-26 UGA Bulldogs should have been the ninth SEC club playing in the 2012 NCAA's - e.g., they had a better case than ECU (3) in the Chapel Hill Regional (sorry RJ!).
If this were hoops, and a league was not only the three-time defending champion, but had a chance to stack half of the Sweet 16 there would be no doubt - no argument - that said conference would be lauded throughout the land as the finest conference in America bar none. End of Story. Full Stop.
If it holds true on the Hardwood, then it should hold true on the Diamond.
The league may not win its fourth straight CWS Title (or play for its fifth straight CWS final). It may not have the best overall team when's it's all said and done. But is there any doubt the SEC looks like the best baseball conference in the nation top to bottom? Add that to the league's football primacy - and the fact that the men's NCAA hoops banner hangs at Rupp Arena in SEC Bluegrass county - and it's just getting ridiculous how strong the SEC is as a conference.
Now it may come to pass that the ACC clubs can knock-out their SEC rivals today and tomorrow - as Georgia Tech, NC State and Clemson will probably be favored to face Florida, Vanderbilt and South Carolina respectively for their regional championships - with each ACC club hoping to take 2 each off the SEC powers. If the Jackets, Pack and Tigers all can do that - and the Noles defeat the MSU Dogs - then John Swofford's Carolina Blue league can seize back the best baseball conference crown. UVA and UNC are also still in the hunt - though they were both spared having to face SEC clubs in their regionals (and the 'Heels are in the loser's bracket of their regional).
Sure - some (or all) of us in the SEC may be crying on Tuesday morning. I may even have to eat some crow!
But today, it's a great day to be a SEC baseball fan.