KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — To make its first trip to the SEC baseball tournament since 2007, Tennessee needs to win two games this weekend against Florida or else keep an eye on what’s happening at Auburn. Or maybe Athens. And we’re not even going to mention College Station.
With three games left in conference play, the Vols (29-20, 11-16 SEC) are the 11th of 12 seeds in next week’s SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Tennessee has a half-game lead over 12th-seeded Georgia (10-16-1) and a one-game lead over Auburn (10-17), which would fail to make the tournament if it started today.
Georgia hosts 10th-seeded Kentucky this weekend, while Auburn takes on No. 6 seed LSU.
For the sake of simplicity, we’re viewing this as four teams (UK, UT, Georgia and Auburn) vying for three spots. (Texas A&M and Arkansas are both 13-14, but adding them to the mix would be insanely complicated and I’m not sure it would make a difference).
* UT sweeps Florida, 3-0. The Vols (14-16) are in.
* UT wins two of three from Florida. The Vols (13-17) are in.
* UT wins one of three. The Vols (12-18) are in unless both Auburn and Georgia win at least two games. (Except if they both go 3-0. Then Kentucky would be left out.)
* UT is swept by Florida. The Vols (11-19) are in if Georgia is swept OR Auburn is swept OR if both Kentucky and Auburn are swept.
From other perspectives:
* Kentucky clinches with one win over Georgia or one Auburn loss to LSU. The Wildcats are eliminated if they are swept AND Auburn wins all three games AND Tennessee wins at least one game.
* Auburn clinches with a sweep. They are eliminated if they are swept. At 2-1, Auburn gets in if Georgia loses at least two games OR if UGA loses at least one and Tennessee is swept OR if Kentucky is swept and Tennessee loses at least twice. At 1-2, Auburn can only get if Georgia is swept OR if Georgia wins at least two while Tennessee is swept.
* Georgia clinches with a sweep. With two wins, the Bulldogs will be in unless Auburn sweeps LSU AND Tennessee wins at least two. With one win, the scenarios are very complex. If the Bulldogs are swept, they get in only if Auburn is also swept.
The current standings:
1. Florida (East leader), 19-8
2. Ole Miss (West leader), 17-10
3. Mississippi State, 16-11
4. Vanderbilt, 16-11
5. South Carolina, 16-11
6. LSU, 14-11-1
7. Alabama, 14-12
8. Arkansas, 13-14
9. Texas A&M. 13-14
10. Kentucky, 12-15
11. Tennessee, 11-16
12. Georgia, 10-16-1
13. Auburn (currently not qualified), 10-17
14. Missouri (officially eliminated), 6-21
SINGLE ELIMINATION PORTION (loser is eliminated)
No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 Tennessee
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 Kentucky
No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Texas A&M
No. 5 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Georgia
DOUBLE ELIMINATION PORTION
Alabama-Kentucky winner vs. No. 2 Ole Miss
USC-UGA winner vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt
Arkansas-TAMU winner vs. No. 1 Florida
LSU-UT winner vs. No. 3 Mississippi State
You can follow the rest of the bracket here (.pdf file).
If Tennessee makes the SEC tournament, then the questions will turn to the possibility of an NCAA regional appearance. But that’s for another blog.
The Vols host Morehead State on Tuesday night. If it’s not a must-win game, it’s at least a must-not-lose game. Bad mid-week losses are never good things for an NCAA bubble team, and the Vols already took one last week against UNC-Asheville.