Now that the regular season is complete, the post-season begins this week with conference tournament play beginning for the most part on Wednesday. Three teams have already claimed tournament titles and automatic bids. Dartmouth claimed the Ivy League Tournament on May 3rd by beating Cornell two games to one, while Army swept their way the Patriot Championship over Lafayette this past Saturday. In the MEAC, Bethune-Cookman swept their way to the title by beating Norfolk State once and North Carolina A&T twice this past weekend. Who will take home the crowns and automatic berths this weekend? The regional selection show is on Monday and most do not want to be waiting to hear their named called.
SEC TOURNAMENT - HOOVER, AL
BRACKET 1: #1 LSU, #4 ALABAMA, #5 SOUTH CAROLINA, #8 VANDERBILT
Typically, the SEC gets all eight teams, sometimes nine, in the NCAA Tournament. This year, the conference might not get that opportunity as the Vanderbilt Commodores finished up 12-17 in conference play and were swept last weekend by Tennessee, who finished eleventh in the conference. Arkansas and Georgia struggled down the stretch after both teams got off to hot starts in the conference. Both teams could use a victory in the tournament to help themselves and the committee make sure they get in.
Bracket 1 seems to be loaded, which is not what LSU had in mind by finishing with the number one seed. Alabama and South Carolina have been rolling as of late. Both could handle the Tigers on Thursday; that is if they can get past Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide game on Wednesday should be a great game. If you are not making the trip to Hoover, then you should find a TV that has CSS and watch the last game of day one.
Bracket 2 is setting up for a three game series between Florida and Mississippi. As mentioned before, Georgia and Arkansas have limped their way to Hoover. Then again, this is the SEC Tournament we are talking about and Regions Park has seen its share of upsets. If Scott Bittle can come back for the Rebels, then they just might win it all. The Gators should have something to say about that on Thursday and Saturday.
My predictions: Bracket 1 winner - South Carolina, Bracket 2 Winner - Florida, SEC Champs - South Carolina
OTHER CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
BIG EAST TOURNAMENT - CLEARWATER, FL
Bracket 1: #1 Louisville, #4 St. John's, #5 Notre Dame, #8 Cincinnnati
Louisville is on a roll after taking the regular season title last weekend with a sweep of South Florida. Bracket 1 is Louisville's to lose, while Bracket 2 should be a duel between South Florida and West Virginia. Look for South Florida to get another shot at Louisville in the title game but will once again come up short.
BIG XII TOURNAMENT - OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
This should be an interesting tournament. With the pool play, anything can truly happen. This conference has seen it in the past; just look at last year, when #5 Texas defeated #7 Kansas State in the title game. Texas should prevail in pool 1, while Missouri will take pool 2. Texas will hoist the trophy on Sunday.
CONFERENCE USA - HATTIESBURG, MS
Bracket 1: #1 East Carolina, #4 Tulane, #5 Southern Miss, #8 Central Florida
The East Carolina Pirates captured the regular season crown on the last day of conference play. This might not be a good thing if they meet Southern Miss, the host school. They dropped two the Golden Eagles during the season. Rice will have their hands full with their bracket because they have been tested by Houston and dropped the series this weekend to UAB, which cost them the title. Everything should work out to see #1 battle #2 on Saturday and Rice winning the automatic bid.
ACC TOURNAMENT - DURHAM, NC
Duke has not qualified for the ACC Baseball Tournament in a while. This has been a good season for the Blue Devils. Their reward for their hard work will be to play in the tournament relatively in their own back yard. They probably will need a win over Virginia to get into a regional. In their pool, North Carolina and Clemson game on Saturday could be for the pool championship. The Tar Heels should take it and meet Georgia Tech in the final. Georgia Tech has played well against Florida State and Miami this year. They should win both games to win the pool; however, Carolina nips them in the final.
Other tournaments to keep an eye on
Southern Conference (will the conference get 3, 4 or 5 bids?), Big South (2 or 3 bids?), WAC (will New Mexico State's 40+ wins get them in the NCAAs?), Sun Belt (does Troy or Florida International have to win the tournament title to get in?)
Note: Numbers listed next to teams are seeds not national rankings