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May 7, 2008

SCS.comTwo weeks remain in SEC play and with that, some teams appear to be locks for the NCAA Tournament while others see themselves on the postseason bubble. As of today, the teams that would appear to have done enough to be seeded for the NCAA postseason tourney would be Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida, and LSU. On the other hand, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee will have to be impressive over the next three weeks (including SEC Tournament play) if they want to ensure themselves of a postseason berth. We look at which top teams could host along with what the bubble teams need to do if they want to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia (31-15-1, 17-6-1 SEC) RPI: 15
The Bulldogs are a lock for the NCAA Tournament as they have been the best team in the SEC up to this point. The question with Georgia is whether or not they will get a national seed, as hosting a regional looks to be a guarantee at this point. To get a national seed, Dave Perno’s squad will need to win their next two SEC series and go deep into the SEC Tournament in Hoover.

Vanderbilt (34-13, 14-9 SEC) RPI: 25
Tim Corbin and the Commodores had an impressive sweep over the past weekend at Tennessee and have put themselves into hosting consideration now. In order to host a regional, Vandy will need to win their next two SEC series, with one of them being at home against Georgia. The Dores will need to win a few games in Hoover to ensure them of hosting. If Vandy can win their next two series and win a few in Hoover, there’s no way they won’t be a host.

South Carolina (33-15, 13-11 SEC) RPI: 11
After dropping four straight SEC games, the Gamecocks responded with two wins over Florida the past weekend. With such a strong RPI (11), it will be hard for the NCAA committee to not give South Carolina a regional. If the Gamecocks win three or four of their remaining SEC games and then win a few in Hoover, it will be awfully hard for the committee to not put an NCAA regional in Columbia.

Florida (28-18, 13-11 SEC) RPI: 19
The Gators dropped a series in Columbia to South Carolina the past weekend but are still in great shape to be a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Florida has a good enough RPI (19) as of now that could get them possibly to host a regional if they can play well against Alabama and Vanderbilt the next two weekends and go deep into the SEC tourney in Hoover. As hosting a regional sounds great for Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators, a 2 seeds seems to be what they’re looking at right now.

LSU (32-16-1, 12-11-1) RPI: 22
The hottest team in the SEC as well as in the nation has gone from being on the postseason bubble to an almost guaranteed berth into the NCAA Tourney. The Tigers have now won six straight SEC contests and nine overall. LSU has a knack for coming back at the end of ballgames, and therefore seems to have the “it” factor. With Mississippi State and Auburn left on their SEC schedule, the Tigers, if they win five of those contests, could possibly host an NCAA regional in the final year of Alex Box Stadium. As of now the Tigers would be one of the better 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament field.

Mississippi (31-19, 12-12 SEC) RPI: 47
Mike Bianco and the Rebels have now dropped their last three SEC series and see themselves on the postseason bubble. Luckily for them, they are only a half game back of LSU for the SEC West lead and if they can make up that small deficit over the next two weeks, they will be the 2 seed in the SEC Tourney. Having that on their resume would look nice but before they worry about that, they need to finish the conference slate out strong against Auburn and Kentucky. If the NCAA Tournament started today, Mississippi would be a 3 seed.

Kentucky (34-14, 11-13 SEC) RPI: 40
After having a great road series victory against Vandy, the Wildcats were swept at home by LSU over the past weekend. Two games under .500 in conference play, Kentucky will need to win their remaining series against Tennessee and Mississippi if they don’t want to have to “sweat it out” on selection day. The Wildcats boast a lot of wins, but most of them have come against the lower tier non-conference schools. Kentucky is definitely on the bubble but would be a 3 seed if postseason play began today.

Arkansas (28-20, 10-13 SEC) RPI: 26
With a conference record three games under .500, the Razorbacks are still in a decent situation as far as making the NCAA Tournament. For a team with 20 losses, Arkansas negates that with a very strong RPI (26). The Hogs finish out the SEC season with South Carolina at home and Mississippi State on the road. If the Hogs are to win three of those six games and then take one or two in Hoover, they shouldn’t be “sweating it out” on selection day. Like Mississippi and Kentucky, the Razorbacks would see themselves as a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Alabama (28-22, 12-12 SEC) RPI: 61
The Crimson Tide have really turned it on lately after being near the bottom of the SEC West cellar a month or two ago. Winners of three straight SEC series, Alabama is still on the bubble due to their weak play in the non-conference games. As you can see with their current RPI (61), it would be hard for the Tide to make it into NCAA postseason play unless they finish strong against two very good teams- Florida and Georgia. If the Tide can win four of those games, something that would be very hard to do against such quality opponents and then win at least two in Hoover, they should land a 3 seed in the NCAA Tourney. As of today though, Alabama would be left out of the tournament.

Tennessee (25-23, 11-13 SEC) RPI: 88
Having dropped their last three SEC series, it looks like the Vols’ bubble is about to burst. After starting the year 9-6 in SEC play and being in a pretty good position for NCAA postseason play, Tennessee now sees themselves at 11-13 in the conference, having lost seven of their past nine SEC games. The Vols’ biggest problem this year has been the midweek games, as they seem to lose all of them due to a lack of pitching depth. Todd Raleigh’s squad will need to win at least four games in their next two SEC series against Kentucky and South Carolina and then win two or three in Hoover to make it into the NCAA postseason field. The Vols will also have to win their remaining midweek contests to make it into the tournament, but as of today, Tennessee is not in a very good position.

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