The South Carolina Gamecocks travel to their favorite place — Hoover, Ala. — for the opening round of the SEC Baseball Tournament tomorrow. But first, here's a big picture look at the rest of the field, and what you can expect as the postseason begins.
The tournament takes only 12 of the league’s 14 teams (which, at that point, why bother eliminating anyone at all?). Alabama and Tennessee have the dubious distinction of not making the cut this year.
Who got a bye?
The top four teams in the standings earned a pass from the first round of the tournament — Florida, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Arkansas. The fifth-seeded Gamecocks had a chance to break into that pecking order on the final week of the regular season, but required some extra help from other teams that didn’t pan out.
Who’s the favorite?
No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Florida looks as strong as ever and should be considered not just a favorite for the SEC crown, but also the College World Series title. The reigning national champions and regular-season SEC champions did get swept by Mississippi State this past weekend, but underestimate the Gators at your own peril: that was their first conference series loss all season.
The other three teams at the top of the standings — Ole Miss, Georgia, and Arkansas — are each top-10 squads. Georgia took two of three from the Hawgs this past weekend, while the Rebels did the same against Alabama. Of the three, Georgia’s probably in the best shape for earning a national seed alongside Florida, but we’ll see where the chips fall after the conference tournaments are complete.
Sixth-seeded Vanderbilt has been up and down this season but is now on a bit of a tear, having just swept Kentucky (and doing so convincingly). The Commodores also took two of three from both Georgia and Ole Miss earlier in the year. The aforementioned ninth-seeded Mississippi State swept Florida last weekend, rescuing what had been dim hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. Maybe the Bulldogs — much like the Gamecocks — are getting hot at the right time.
Tuesday (Single elimination; all games on SEC Network)
Game 1: No. 6 Vanderbilt vs. No. 11 Texas A&M, 10:30 a.m.
Game 2: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 10 Kentucky, to follow
Game 3: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 MSU, 5:30 p.m.
Game 4: No. 5 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Missouri, to follow
Wednesday (Double elimination; all games on SEC Network)
Game 5: No. 3 Georgia vs. Game 1 winner, 10:30 a.m.
Game 6: No. 2 Ole Miss vs. Game 2 winner, to follow
Game 7: No. 1 Florida vs. Game 3 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Game 8: No. 4 Arkansas vs. Game 4 winner, to follow
Thursday (Double elimination; all games on SEC Network)
Game 9: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 10:30 a.m.
Game 10: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, to follow
Game 11: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Game 12: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, to follow
Friday (Double elimination; all games on SEC Network)
Game 13: Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 14: Game 10 winner vs. Game 12 loser, to follow
Saturday (Single elimination; all games on SEC Network)
Game 15: Game 13 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 16: Game 14 winner vs. Game 12 winner, to follow
Game 17: Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)