SEC Well Represented in NCAA Tourney

The Atlantic Coast Conference set the pace in this year's college baseball tournament with three of the top four seeds, but the SEC certainly got respect from the baseball selection committee. Nine SEC teams will begins tournament play this week hoping to advance to the Super Regionals.

It won't be easy with just two conference teams playing at home, but some schools got better draws than others. We'll assess the relative strength of each regional featuring an SEC team, using the NCAA's own RPI rating.

Florida ----- Florida is one of the two highest ranked No. 2 seeds in the field with an RPI of 15. In fact, Florida's RPI is higher than top seeds Georgia (17), Stanford (20) and Long Beach State (23). Florida State enters the event the No. 3 seed overall and has to be considered the favorite. Based on RPI Tulane (49) looks like a favorable draw, but the Green Wave is a much better team with Shooter Hunt (9-3, 2.45, 119 K) on the mound. Getting a win on day one is a must.

Georgia ----- The Bulldogs win the brutally difficult and incredibly balanced SEC and its reward is the best No. 2 seed in the entire field in Georgia Tech (7). It's hard to see Louisville or Lipscomb winning a game in Athens so it's almost a Super Regional set up between the Bulldogs and the Ramblin' Wreck.

LSU ----- Winning the SEC Tournament and stretching its winning streak to 20 games has vaulted LSU into the top ten (9). The Tigers got a solid field with Southern Miss (36) and New Orleans (44) providing capable opposition but unlikely to derail the Tigers express.

Vanderbilt ----- The Commodores haven't been playing well lately and have to travel to Tempe Arizona to face red-hot Arizona State. The ‘Dores ended up with a (30) solid RPI and are seeded about where they belong. Like Florida, they almost have to win game one.

South Carolina ----- This is my pick for the non No. 1 seed most likely to win among the SEC teams. Carolina gets a relatively short road trip and will have essentially a neutral crowd up in Raleigh. Also N.C. State (12) and South Carolina (19) have comparable résumés making it a virtual toss up between the two.

Ole Miss ----- The Rebels have excellent pitching, but really don't score a ton of runs. Their RPI (40) makes them a strong No. 3, as opposed to Missouri (39) being among the weaker No. 2 seeds. It's hard to see the Rebels getting out of Coral Gables with much success.

Arkansas ----- Believe it or not the Razorbacks are in better shape than several other SEC teams. Yes, they have a long trip to California, but Stanford as mentioned above is one of the weaker No. 1 seeds, and the Hogs are at No. 33, actually a notch higher than No. 2 seed Pepperdine (34).

Kentucky ----- The Wildcats also got a favorable draw as a No. 3 seed with a strong RPI (32). The ‘Cats travel to Ann Arbor where the host Wolverines are the No. 2 seed (35) and the top ‘Cat is Arizona and former Gator Coach Andy Lopez. Lopez is in his seventh season in Tucson and is gunning for his second trip the College World Series with the Wildcats. If Kentucky can win their opener their chances of pulling a big upset are pretty darn good.

Alabama ----- The Crimson Tide is the biggest name in its regional, which is headed up by Coastal Carolina (6) and East Carolina (16). The Tide has one of the highest RPI numbers (48) of any at large invitee and many feel that spot should have gone to Clemson (26). ‘Bama has to hope the two Carolinas play more to their modest names and less to their significant abilities, but the Tide's poor pitching depth will cost them eventually.

So there you have it. Nine SEC teams enter the Super Regionals; let's see just how many make it to the next stage.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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