Tide Faces Hot Vols

Scoreboard watching will be the norm all around the Southeastern conference this weekend, as Alabama (36-17 overall, 17-10 SEC) wraps up its regular season a day earlier than normal, with a Thursday-Friday-Saturday three game series in Knoxville against Tennessee (31-21 overall, 11-15 SEC).

Alabama, having already clinched an SEC tournament berth, is playing primarily for a division title and better seeding in the NCAA tournament. Bama trails Kentucky by two games and leads Georgia by one game in the race for the overall title entering the final weekend (Kentucky plays at Georgia this weekend), and holds a two-game lead over Arkansas in the West.

The Crimson Tide is currently right on the cusp of a top-eight national seed, which is huge because it would enable them to host both a regional and super regional and give Alabama its best shot at going to the College World Series.

Tennessee is battling for one of the remaining three spots in the SEC tournament with LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

For Alabama, Jim Wells has settled on a starting pitcher for Friday (Wade LeBlanc) and Saturday (Tommy Hunter), but the decision for Thursday night has not been cementd. Wells will go with either Bernard Robert, who started last Friday night, or Jake McCarter, who was Alabama's best mid-week starter and a solid reliever for the Tide lately.

"It's a tough week with it being a short week," Wells said. "We will move our rotation. We played better against Florida and hopefully we can keep it going this week."

All three games will begin at 7 p.m. (ET), with the Saturday series finale televised live by CSS Sports.

Alabama is one of five teams that has already secured a spot in next week's SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met. Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas and Ole Miss will join the Crimson Tide in next week's eight-team, double-elimination tournament. Auburn and Florida have been eliminated from SEC Tournament contention.

The Volunteers have won four of their last five SEC series, including back-to-back series wins over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Tennessee owns a 9-6 record against Eastern Division teams this season, with the lone series loss against Kentucky. The Vols are 2-9 against the Western Division this year.

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