The seventh week of SEC play brought no turnover at the top, as the conference's three elite teams all took care of business with weekend sweeps of mediocre clubs. South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Florida all reigned over teams from the bottom half of the league to maintain a three-way tie atop the standings and draw closer to clinching national seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Behind them, Georgia battled past a tough Arkansas team to solidify their spot as the conference's fourth best team.
The Bulldogs' story has been inspirational. Georgia shook off a putrid 2010 campaign and and opening weekend sweep at the hands of Stetson to rally into the top 12 of the NCAA RPI. Despite starting off 2-7, the 'Dawgs have ridden a 21-13 hot streak against some of the toughest teams in the country to make a bid for a hosting gig this June. Georgia has beaten South Carolina, Baylor, UCLA, Florida, and Georgia Tech this season and will be a nightmare for any team to face in a tournament format.
There's not much of interest to report beyond the league's alpha dogs this week. LSU may have gotten their season back on track with a sweep of Kentucky, but if the Tigers had lost that series all that would have remained of Alex Box Stadium would have been a vat of Kool-Aid and some hastily scribbled notes. Alabama climbed back into a tie for first in the SEC West by virtue of a 2-1 series win over Mississippi State and Arkansas's loss to Georgia. Both teams sit one game under .500 at 10-11, and all six teams are within three games of the division leader.
Week eight is devoid of any marquee matchups. LSU-Alabama could turn out to be explosive as both teams try to prove that they deserve a shot to win the West. Florida-Arkansas will give the Razorbacks a chance to redeem themselves after losing last week's series while helping South Carolina and Vanderbilt (both of whom have favorable matchups) a chance to distance themselves from the Gators. Mississippi State-Tennessee could finally give the Bulldogs the momentum they need in order to be the darkhorse tournament threat we keep trying to sell them as.
Check out Week Seven's power rankings after the jump.
|1)||1)||South Carolina||35-8 (17-4)||Swept Auburn after a close opening game to maintain their spot atop the SEC and move closer to a regular season title. South Carolina ended up with an oddly loaded schedule that pitted their final five series of SEC play against teams from the West, and it's conceivable that the Gamecocks sweep their way into the top seed in the conference tournament.|
|2)||2)||Vanderbilt||38-5 (17-4)||Holy crap, that was a beatdown of Tennessee. Too bad it didn't seem to impress anyone outside of the Volunteer State.|
|3)||3)||Florida||35-10 (17-4)||The Gators didn't even let Mississippi get close to them, but they'll likely have to have a similar output against Arkansas in order to keep pace with Vanderbilt heading into the two team's big showdown in two weeks.|
|Good Team With Bad Losses, or a Bad Team With Good Wins?|
|4)||4)||Georgia||24-21 (13-8)||Came back from a series opening loss to Arkansas to win a pair of tight games and earn their place as the fourth best team in the SEC. The 'Dawgs likely can't catch the league's top three teams, but have a three game advantage when it comes to the final spot in the top half of the bracket for the SEC Tournament.|
|Probably Should Have Won Their Division. Probably Won't. Fifth By Default, Pretty Much|
|5)||5)||Arkansas||30-13 (10-11)||At 10-11, the Razorbacks are YOUR SEC WEST CO-LEADERS. Remaining series with Florida and South Carolina mean that the 'Hogs are going to have a tough time maintaining their spot in the West and possibly in the conference tournament.|
|Extremely Dark, Dark-Horse SEC Tournament Champions|
|6)||7)||Alabama||28-19 (10-11)||Regained their spot atop the West by doing what they do best - beating up on other divisional rivals. Back-to-back showdowns with LSU and Auburn will give them the chance to continue their dominance over the weak side of the league and get them rolling before a season-ending showdown with South Carolina.|
|7)||6)||Mississippi State||26-18 (8-13)||Mississippi State lost a weekend series against Alabama and a great chance to gain some ground in the SEC West. The Bulldogs are currently in ninth place in the league and will have to fend off LSU while picking up a few games in the standings in order to make it to Hoover. That tournment bid could be the difference between playing in the NCAA Tournament and going home early for summer.|
|8)||8)||Auburn||23-21 (9-12)||Another sweep on the losing side for the Tigers, making that three on the season for Auburn. There's no shame in losing to South Carolina, and the muddled state of the SEC West will give them a strong opportunity to play their way into a five seed for the conference tournament.|
|9)||9)||Ole Miss||24-20 (9-12)||Got swept, remained a game back of first in the SEC West. Ole Miss doesn't have the offense to win a shootout or the pitching to shut down a strong team. That's a terrible combination in this year's SEC.|
|Pretty Bad…Pretty, Pretty, Pretty, Pretty…Pretty Bad.|
|10)||11)||LSU||29-17 (7-14)||If you told LSU fans that they'd be celebrating a sweep against lowly Kentucky as one of the high points of their baseball season back in March, would you have been punched or just laughed at?|
|11)||10)||Kentucky||20-25 (4-17)||Imploded against LSU on Thursday night and just never recovered. Things probably won't get much better when they host Vandy this weekend.|
|12)||12)||Tennessee||22-20 (5-16)||39-5. That's the composite score from their weekend series at Vanderbilt, with three of those runs coming in garbage time on Sunday. All the Volunteers can do now is spoil bids for the SEC Tournament from their spot in 11th place.|