In last week’s mailbag, reader/commenter/NAIA enthusiast Parlagi posed the following question:
Is 40 regular season wins enough for a national seed? That would mean going 10-5 in the SEC, and a midweek loss to either Louisville or Indiana State.
Is a decent showing in the SEC Tournament enough at that point, or would they need to win out in Hoover?
At the time, my answer was this:
With the caveat that I am no oracle, no Cassandra, nor even a Jackie Stallone (though, like Sir Mix-a-Lot before me, I do have an advanced proficiency in Rumpology)... I am pretty confident a 40 win season, with a 19-11 SEC record (we’re currently 9-6 in conference) would make us a National Seed. Depending on where you look, we’re either #5 or #6 in the polls, and #3 in the RPI. In other words, if the season were to end today, we’re a National Seed barring some form of tomfoolery. Closing out 10-5 in conference, and 3-1 out of conference (as you propose) would likely keep us exactly where we’re currently at. It’s an appropriate goal, however, let’s not look too far in the distance. Let’s beat The Larry Birds tonight, and take care of business in Gumpland this weekend.
As you well know, we proceeded to go 4-0 on the week, beating The Larry Birds handily (7-1) and sweeping Ramajama in Gumpland (7-4, 13-5, and 2-0), while JJ Bleday his his 20th HR of the season. With this stellar week in the books, we are now 31-9 on the year (12-6 SEC), and have risen approximately one spot to be #4 or #5 in the polls and #2 in the RPI (UCLA is #1).
So We’re In Good Position, But What Do We Have To Do To Stay There?
Though I still stand by my 40 wins (19 conference) answer as being the lower bound, 20 conference wins before the SEC Tournament in Hoover should have us in safely as a top 8 National Seed, so let’s make that our benchmark.
Current Record: 31-9; 12-6 SEC.
Regular Season Games Remaining: 15 total; 12 SEC.
- Tennessee Tech (4/30 Home)
- Louisville (5/7 Away)
- Empty S-U (5/14 Home).
Let’s be conservative and say we win two out of three. It doesn’t matter which two (though we should expect to win both home games). Beating Louisville would be icing on the delicious delicious barrel trophy we would win back.
- April 25th-27th (Home): The Auburn War Tigers (26-14; 10-8 SEC; #16 RPI; #20 in Baseball America).
- May 3rd-5th (Away): The South Cackalacky Game Penises (23-17; 5-13 SEC)
- May 10th-12th (Home): The Mizzourah Tigers (26-15; 7-10 BIG XII)
- May 16th-18th (Away): The Kentucky Fightin’ Jamal Mashburn Jerseys Worn at Weddings (20-20; 4-14SEC)
To get to the bulwark of 20 conference wins, we will need to go 8-4 over our final four weekend conference series. This is an eminently achievable goal, given that the two more difficult series—Auburn and Missourah—will be at The Hawk, and our two road series are against the last and second to last place teams in the East.
In sum, if win each remaining series 2-1, we’re in. Lose any of the remaining series, and we will need to sweep at least one of the last four weekends.
Is This Doable?
Will the Rest of the Conference Have Anything to Say About it?
Also yes. 10 SEC teams are currently in the RPI Top 25, with four (#2 Vanderbilt, #3 UGA, #5 Arky, and #8 The Chuggers) in the top 10. Further, 9 SEC teams are currently in the Baseball America Top 25, with a staggering 5 of them in the top 10.
#3 RPI Georgia (33-8; 13-5 SEC) is a near lock, as they just need to go 7-5 down the stretch to hit the money number. However... Georgia’s back four series are much more difficult, with Mississippi State in Starkville this weekend, Florida fighting for their postseason lives in Athens, Auburn on The Plains, and then, finally, an easy three with Alabama at home. Still... I’m having a tough time envisioning them not breaking the 20 win plateau. Consider them in.
Last we saw them, #5 RPI Arkansas (30-10; 12-6 SEC) was licking their wounds in Nashville. A three game sweep over Clanga catapulted them right back into National Seed consideration. They’re in the same spot as us, needing to go 8-4 in their final month to reach the money number. However... they close with The Chuggers at home, Kentucky in Lexington, LSU at home, and aTm in Blue Bell Park. Expect them to sweep UK, and take 2 of 3 from The Chuggers, but those series against the Tigers and Aggies are going to be brutal. Arky will have a chance at a National Seed, but they will certainly have to earn it. Still... I have to put them at 50/50 odds to reach the 20 conference win plateau—but remember, if it’s a coin flip between them and us, we have the head to head.
I’m still not sure how The Chuggers (30-11; 9-9) are at #8 in the RPI, but they’re 21st in the Baseball America poll, so those two factors propel them into the conversation. However... they have a mountain to climb to get to 20 conference wins, as they would need to go 11-1 against the likes of Arky in Fayetteville, Missourah at home, Florida in Jortsville, and Ole Piss at home. Still... this isn’t happening. Against that murderer’s row, they’re much more likely to be on the outside looking in regarding the postseason contention than in line for a National Seed come Hoover time.
Others in Contention:
#12 RPI Mississippi State (32-9; 10-8 SEC)
#13 RPI Texas A&M (29-12; 11-6 SEC)
#16 RPI Auburn (26-14; 10-8 SEC)
#18 RPI LSU (26-15; 11-7 SEC)
Corbin, these are your marching orders. Get at least 8 wins in conference over the next four weeks and you’re a National Seed (most likely).