SEC Baseball Power Rankings: Week Nine

The SEC is one of the best baseball conferences in the country...yet they have their League Championship on a field that is otherwise most famous for hosting Michael Jordan's baseball career. Meanwhile, the "rivalry" between Duquesne and Pitt got to use PNC Park until the Dukes folded their baseball team. Seems unfair.

Week nine brought the most movement ever seen in the three week history of the AoG rankings. LSU continued their plummet in the midst of a six game losing streak, and the Tigers appear to be intent on playing their way out of the SEC Tournament and possibly even the NCAAs. South Carolina essentially clinched a National Seed regardless of how the rest of their season turns out after a three game sweep of Arkansas However, their ascent to the top of the rankings was stunted by Florida's tightly-contested sweep over conference doormat Georgia. Vanderbilt and Auburn both leveled up with strong weekend performances, as Vandy went 4-0 and Auburn dug themselves out of an 0-2 hole with big wins over a Tennessee squad that was desperate for some resume-building victories.

The final week of the regular season looms, and while teams like Vanderbilt and Arkansas will be jockeying for a hosting job in the NCAA Regionals, four teams in the middle of the conference will be battling for the final two spots in the SEC Tournament. LSU, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee all sport 12-15 SEC records and are tied for fourth place in their respective divisions. While LSU and Kentucky get a pair of easy draws in Mississippi State and Georgia, 'Bama and the Volunteers will battle it out in Knoxville, with the winner likely moving on to Hoover while the loser sits and anxiously waits for a NCAA Tournament invite.

Rank LW Team Record Analysis
The League's Elite
1) 1 Florida 
37-12 (20-7) Florida kept chugging along with a sweep of the SEC's worst team, although a pair of one-run, come-from-behind games may have been a little too close for comfort. This weekend's series with #6 South Carolina will determine the SEC regular season champs.
2) 3 South Carolina 41-11 (20-7) Their road sweep at Arkansas featured some stellar pitching in close wins. Over the last five games, the Gamecocks' ERA is just 2.20. This is a dangerous team.
3) 5 Vanderbilt 39-13 (15-10) Does Vanderbilt belong amongst the league's elite? We'll find out this weekend as they host Arkansas. The winner of that series will likely clinch a National Seed in this year's NCAA Tournament.
4) 6 Auburn 35-17 (17-10) The Tigers took care of business against Tennessee, but a loss against South Alabama keeps them from joining the top three this week. The offense is there, but Auburn's pitching could lead to their unraveling in the postseason.
Solid Resumes, NCAA Tourney-Bound
5) 2 Arkansas 38-14 (16-11) Getting swept by South Carolina dropped them from the top spot in the West. Now they'll have to have a big series in Nashville or risk falling all the way to the sixth seed for the SEC Tournament. 
6) 4 Ole Miss 36-17 (16-11) The Rebels' conference profile since April is looking a little bit shakier, as their only series wins have been against bottom-feeders Mississippi State and Georgia along with freefalling LSU. Ole Miss is a very talented team, but hasn't gotten it done down the stretch, falling to UT, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama. Can this team get it done against the SEC's good teams with the pressure turned up?
NCAA Tournament SEC Tournament Bubble Teams
7) 9 Kentucky 29-23 (12-15) The 'Cats had no trouble ripping through LSU to keep their SEC Tournament hopes alive, though out-of-conference losses to Indiana and Lipscomb made for a disappointing beginning to the week. Four teams sit at 12-15 in the SEC and looking at two remaining spots in the Tournament. With Kentucky facing 3-22 Georgia this weekend, the folks in Lexington have to like their odds.
8) 10 Alabama 31-21 (12-15) Their series win, along with LSU's fall, put the teams neck and neck for the final Tournament spot in the West. Unfortunately, the Tide will be facing another team that is playing for their postseason lives this weekend against Tennessee, while LSU gets to fall back on the already-eliminated Mississippi State Bulldogs.
9) 8 Tennessee 29-23 (12-15) A series win against Auburn would have jumped them up to NCAA Tournament lock, but instead they got pounded out 18-0 and 9-2 after a Friday win. Still, you can expect to see the Volunteers playing in June.
10) 7 LSU 34-18 (12-15) Losers of six straight after getting swept by Kentucky - the Tigers are just 2-13 over their last 15 games. Once a Top Five team, LSU is in danger of missing out on the SEC Tournament - and a sweep at the hands of Mississippi State might end their season altogether.
There's Always Next Year…
11) 11 Mississippi State 21-31 (5-22) MSU has no postseason hopes to speak of, but can deliver the death blow to LSU's mid-season implosion with a series win this weekend. If the Bulldogs can go into the Bayou and come out with a pair of wins, it would give the folks in Starkville something to finally celebrate this season after 12 straight SEC losses.
12) 12 Georgia 14-36 (3-22) The Bulldogs can also play spoiler against Kentucky this weekend, but they haven't won a league game since April 11. Georgia can double their SEC win total with a sweep in Lexington - though that's entirely unlikely.

And now, a musical treat for all the readers who took the time to actually click through and read these rankings:

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