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SEC baseball tournament bracket update: What are the Vols’ scenarios for this weekend?

Tennessee lost to UNC Asheville last week at Lindsey Nelson Stadium (photo by Evan Woodbery)

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.

What if the SEC baseball tournament started today? (updated bracket projections)

The SEC baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s series-clinching victory over Kentucky on Sunday was doubly meaningful for the Vols.

At 10-14, Tennessee now wins the tiebreaker over Kentucky and climbs to the No. 10 seed in the SEC tournament. The recent struggles of Auburn, Missouri could give the top 12 teams a bit of a buffer in the league standings.

I think 11 of the league’s 14 teams have NCAA-quality resumes. (Everyone except Georgia, Auburn and MIssouri.) That could create a lack of suspense in Hoover, Ala., particularly if the bubble team(s) are bounced quickly in the single-elimination portion.

The Vols are in decent shape, with an RPI ranked 30th in the nation. (A No. 27 ranking in the Sagarin ratings validates that nice RPI number.)

Tennessee has six SEC games remaining — three at Mississippi State and then three at home against Florida — and two non-conference games. If the Vols go 4-4 in that stretch, their projected RPI ranking would be 37th. While that would probably be enough, although UT would prefer a bigger cushion.

Here’s how the SEC tournament bracket would look if the tournament began now:

1. Florida (East champ)

2. Ole Miss (West champ)

3. Mississippi State

4. Vanderbilt

5. LSU

6. South Carolina

7. Alabama

8. Texas A&M

9. Arkansas

10. Tennessee

11. Kentucky

12. Georgia

13. Auburn (not qualified)

14. Missouri (not qualified)

SINGLE ELIMINATION PORTION (loser is eliminated)

No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 11 Kentucky

No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 Tennessee

No. 8 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 Arkansas

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 Georgia

DOUBLE ELIMINATION PORTION

Alabama-UT winner vs. No. 2 Ole Miss

LSU-UGA winner vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt

TAMU-Arkansas winner vs. No. 1 Florida

USC-UK winner vs. No. 3 Mississippi State

You can follow the rest of the bracket here (.pdf file).

If the SEC baseball tournament started today (which it doesn’t), here’s what bracket would look like

Tennessee players watch from the dugout during a game in March (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Twelve of fourteen SEC teams make the conference tournament in Hoover, Ala., so the accomplishment isn’t necessarily worth celebrating.

But given the competitiveness of the league this year (and every year), there’s a chance that a team with an NCAA-quality resume could be left out. And that team could be Tennessee.

The Vols took one of three from LSU over the weekend in Baton Rouge to improve to 8-13 in the conference. Missouri (6-15 in the SEC) continued to struggle, and will have to fight its way out of the No. 14 slot. That leaves a handful of teams trying to avoid being No. 13.

Tennessee has nine SEC games remaining against Kentucky, Mississippi State (at Starkville) and Florida. Here’s how the SEC tournament bracket would look if the tournament began right now:

1. Florida (East champ)

2. Alabama (West champ)

3. Ole Miss

4. LSU

5. South Carolina

6. Mississippi State

7. Vanderbilt

8. Arkansas*

9. Texas A&M

10. Kentucky

11. Auburn

12. Tennessee

13. Georgia (not qualified)

14. Missouri (not qualified)

* Arkansas-Texas A&M are currently tied and have not yet played head-to-head. For the sake of simplicity, I am pretending that Arkansas has won that series.

SINGLE ELIMINATION PORTION (loser is eliminated)

No. 6 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Auburn

No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Kentucky

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Texas A&M

No. 5 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Tennessee

DOUBLE ELIMINATION PORTION

MSU-Auburn winner vs. No. 3 Ole Miss

Vandy-UK winner vs. No. 2 Alabama

Arkansas-TAMU winner vs. No. 1 Florida

USC-UT winner vs. No. 4 LSU

You can follow the rest of the bracket here (.pdf file). As always, the great challenge of the SEC baseball tournament is that is has the least meaning for the best teams. That’s why taking only eight of 14 teams just wouldn’t work. There would be a good chance that all eight teams would have already secured NCAA berths and thus would be uninterested in depleting their pitching staffs for this tournament.

That said, the SEC tournament is still a lot of fun in good years. And Tennessee would really like to get back. The Vols won the tournament three years in a row (1993-1995). Incredibly, they haven’t made an appearance in Hoover since 2007, when they sneaked in as a No. 8 seed. The last time UT was a No. 4 seed or higher was 2005.