Another week, another top SEC team dispatched by Kentucky.
The Wildcats continued their surge to the top of the conference with their sixth straight series win last weekend, taking two games from LSU in a battle of the conference's best teams. Despite dropping Friday's opener, UK battled back to clinch the series with a wild Sunday win that secured their status as the conference's top team. The 'Cats are now 13-5 in conference play. They have yet to lose a weekend series this season.
South Carolina's rebound continued this week as well, as they won their eighth straight SEC game to vault into third place in the conference standings. After a 1-5 start to league play, the Gamecocks are now 11-7 and looking every bit like the national seed that many projected that they would be at the beginning of the season. However, another early favorite - Vanderbilt - isn't looking as good. The Commodores dropped two of three games to basement-dwelling Alabama in a series loss that could end up keeping them from the postseason.
Elsewhere, Mississippi State and Ole Miss did the Magnolia State proud with weekends that rose both up the SEC ladder. State's sweep of Tennessee produced three big wins that could carry them into the conference tournament at the end of the season. The Rebels fared even better, taking two of three games from the formerly 17th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks over the same span. That's bad news for Arkansas, as the 'Hogs fell to 9-9 in conference play and have yet to win a weekend series over a high-level opponent this season.
So where does everyone else shake out? Check out the full rankings after the jump...
|The Old Guard (and Kentucky)|
|2)||2)||LSU||32-9 (12-6)||There's no shame in losing to Kentucky in 2012. LSU's pitching broke down against a strong UK lineup on Saturday and Sunday, but it's just a minor setback for a team that looks destined to host a Super Regional this summer.|
|3)||4)||South Carolina||30-11 (11-7)||10-2 against teams that are under .500 in SEC play, but 1-5 against teams that are .500 or better. This weekend's home series against Alabama probably won't prove much, but it could extend Carolina's streak as the conference's hottest team.|
|4)||3)||Florida||31-10 (11-7)||Their one-spot drop is a function of South Carolina's hot play rather than any Gator disappointments. This veteran team just keeps chugging along, and if they can stay healthy they are still potentially the conference favorites in Hoover. First, they'll have to get past a fading Arkansas and a surging Kentucky team in a pair of series that will test their meddle.|
|Still Fighting to Host NCAA Tournament Baseball|
|5)||7)||Ole Miss||27-14 (9-9)||A big series win over Arkansas was tempered by a midweek loss to Memphis, but the Rebels are still flying high as the #2 team in the SEC West. It's been a bit of a roller coaster season in SEC play for Ole Miss, but this team has proven that they can hang with anyone in the country, and they're dangerous enough to run all the way to Omaha in June.|
|The Middle Ground of the SEC, the Upper Tier of Other Conferences|
|6)||6)||Georgia||24-18 (8-10)||Bounced back from a 16-inning Friday heartbreaker at Florida to win on Saturday, showing some serious guts in the process. Georgia isn't as talented as the top teams in the conference, but they play hard enough to drag most opponents into low scoring affairs that the team specializes in.|
|7)||5)||Arkansas||29-12 (9-9)||2-7 against teams that are .500 or better in SEC play this season. Arkansas has a big profile and plenty of talent, but not many significant wins to show for it.|
|8)||11)||Mississippi St.||25-16 (8-10)||A sweep of Tennessee may have righted the ship, but we won't know for sure until this weekend's Egg Bowl matchup. Chris Stratton's special season continued on Friday, as he struck out 10 and only allowed four hits in nine sterling innings against the Vols. Despite not registering in the decision, he's 7-0 on the season with 88 Ks in 66 innings so far this season and heading to All-SEC honors.|
|Bad, but Talented.|
|9)||9)||Auburn||22-19 (7-11)||Auburn got swept, but awful performances from UT and Vandy kept them in the 9th spot…for now. The Tigers started the season strongly with wins over Ole Miss, LSU, and Mississippi State before the wheels came off. They're just 1-8 since then, and that includes big losses to two of the three teams ranked below them.|
|10)||8)||Tennessee||22-19 (7-11)||The Volunteers have struggled through the tougher stretches of their schedule, but a matchup at Auburn should give them a chance to correct their mistakes and re-establish the team as a member of the SEC's middle ground. Offense remains a problem, as the team has scored just two runs per game in their recent four-game losing streak.|
|The Alabama Zone.|
|11)||10)||Vanderbilt||18-22 (7-11)||Alabama had been outscored 31-5 in their four games of the week leading up to their series with the Commodores, and then they put up 14 runs in Friday/Saturday wins against Vandy. If that's not an ominous sign for this team's pitching staff, nothing is.|
|12)||12)||Alabama||17-25 (6-12)||Thanks to the SEC Tournament's expansion, the Crimson Tide are now in position to make a run at Hoover after two key wins against Vanderbilt. Alabama is a surprising 5-4 in their last three weeks of conference play.|
Any questions? Concerns? Disagreements? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!