The students are on Spring Break, the weather is getting warmer and that means SEC conference play is finally here. The conference sits at a ridiculous 198-44 record against non-conference opponents, winning 81.8% of the games. All 14 teams sit in good position to make a run at the postseason and the favorite for the conference title is anyone’s guess to this point.
Through the first four weeks of the season, it is Tennessee who comes out with the best record entering SEC play. It’s been a mixture of solid pitching and a high powered offense that puts the Volunteers at a daunting 17-1. On the other side, it’s Mississippi State leading the West at 16-1 with signature wins over No.9 Texas Tech and No.24 ECU.
The SEC entered the week with 11 of the 14 teams in the conference ranked in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. They are as follow:
- #2 Vanderbilt
- #5 Mississippi State
- #7 Florida
- #8 Ole Miss
- #10 Arkansas
- #11 Georgia
- #13 LSU
- #17 Auburn
- #21 Tennessee
- #22 Texas A&M
- #23 South Carolina
Mississippi State enters the top five for the first time this season, giving the conference two of the top five teams as well as five of the top 10 teams. Ole Miss made the biggest jump from last week moving up five spots after their sweep at home against UAB. LSU had the biggest drop, down four spots after winning two out of three against California at home.
This weekend, like most every weekend in the SEC, will pit top ranked teams against each other in electric matchups all season long. Four of the seven series are between ranked teams, including the top three ranked teams in the conference.
Matchup of the Week: #5 Mississippi State (16-1) @ #7 Florida (14-5)
Conference play starts with a bang for these two teams. No.5 Mississippi State will travel to Gainesville to take on the No.7 Florida Gators. This is part of a rough month-long stretch for the Bulldogs who’s next four weekend series are against currently ranked SEC teams. The Bulldogs are red hot on a twelve game winning streak that began after their lone loss of the season against in-state rival Southern Miss. Florida meanwhile already has five losses, the result of not getting it done in the midweek. They have failed to take care of the state of Florida, losing to in-state opponents South Florida, North Florida, Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast. How,ever they have dominated the weekend, going 11-1 in weekend series this year.
Mississippi enters the weekend with the lowest ERA in the SEC at 1.75. They also boast the second best hitting average at .311. Senior Jake Mangum once again is a terror for opposing pitching with a .366/.446/.451 slash. Friday and Saturday night throwers Ethan Small and JT Ginn have been two of the best in the country combining for a 5-0 record and 1.65 ERA in 8 starts. Florida will have their hands full this weekend, Mississippi State likely will win the series taking two out of three.
#21 Tennesee (17-1) @ #17 Auburn (15-2)
Tennessee, who started the season so hot, had a sobering weekend this past week. After giving up just 14 runs in their first 13 games, the weekend series against Fresno State saw a breakdown in Volunteer pitching. Over the three game series Tennessee allowed 22 runs on their way to winning two out of three. While Auburn’s offense ranks towards the bottom of the SEC in almost all categories, this will be Tennessee’s first big test of the year against bigger and better bats. Auburn will win two out of three at home, however, if they can beat Tennessee ace Garrett Stallings on Friday they can go for the sweep.
“From Our Haus to Yours”