Kentucky baseball: SEC tourney scenarios

After defeating Auburn in a doubleheader yesterday (6-5, 10 innings, and 6-3), the Kentucky Wildcats stand at 11-15 in SEC play, chasing # 8 Vanderbilt (12-13) and # 7 South Carolina (13-13) for the 8th and final SEC spot. KSR takes a look at the remaining schedule and tournament scenarios with only four games remaining in the regular season.

How many games do the Wildcats have left this year? Four regular season contests? Add the SEC tournament, and it's possible the Cats could play their way into the NCAA tournament as well.

The next four games are crucial to the Wildcat hopes of extending the season. Only the top eight teams make the tournament in Hoover each year, and the Cats currently stand in 9th place.

South Carolina (13-13) is two full games ahead of Kentucky. The Gamecocks trailed Tennessee yesterday 9-1, but staged a miraculous comeback, 15-12 victory to improve to .500 in the league--and almost clinch an SEC tournament spot. If Tennessee had held on, the Gamecocks would have fallen to 12-14, just one game ahead of Kentucky--but even then, it may have been a tough road, because in a tiebreaker scenario, South Carolina would get the nod over Kentucky by virtue of winning the head to head series.

For Kentucky to pass South Carolina, the Cats would have to win out and finish 15-15, and South Carolina lose three of its last four games. Or Kentucky would have to win three of its last four games, and South Carolina lose all four of its remaining contests. The Gamecocks play Tennessee in Knoxville today, then host reeling Georgia next weekend.

Odds of that happening are pretty slim, but keep your eye on Tennessee vs. South Carolina today just in case.

The better opportunity still appears to pass Vanderbilt, the current 8th place team at 12-13. Vanderbilt has played one fewer game than Kentucky due to a cancellation, and the game will not be made up. SEC rules state that the top eight teams by winning percentage will make the end of year tournament in Hoover, so here's how it needs to play out for Kentucky.

Wildcats need to win three of their remaining four games to finish 14-16 in conference play. The Commodores could then lose three of their remaining four games to finish 13-16 in conference play. The one-half game margin would be all that is needed for the Cats to snatch the final tournament bid.

Vanderbilt plays today at Georgia after defeating the Bulldogs two consecutive games, and are striving for the sweep. Next week they host Tenesseee.

Of course, if Kentucky wins all four remaining games--today at home vs. Auburn, and then sweep Florida next weekend in Gainesville--the Commodores could win two of its remaining four games, and be passed by the Wildcats. So keep that in mind as we proceed through the final week of the regular season as well.
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