For a day at least, Mississippi State was above .500 in SEC play. Then came Sunday’s dramatic 8-7 loss at Alabama (CLICK HERE), which dropped the Bulldogs to 12-12 in the league. Still, not a bad place to be, tied with Arkansas for second place.
MSU entered the weekend tied for third with Auburn and Ole Miss. The Tigers were swept by Georgia, and the Rebels lost two of three to division leader LSU. So that helped State, which over the last three weekends has greatly improved its position relative to the SEC Tournament.
After that tough, emotional loss yesterday, the Bulldogs weren’t thinking too much about standings and seedings.
“I don’t even know if we can fathom that at this point in time. We’ve got to get over this,” head coach John Cohen said.
But, if the tourney started this week, where would MSU be seeded? Well, it’s currently involved in a three-way tie for fifth overall, with Arkansas and Georgie. So you’d have to go to each teams’ composite record against the other two. That would made Arkansas the No. 5 seed due to its 4-2 mark against MSU and Georgia.
The Bulldogs and Bulldogs have not and will not play each other this season, and since both went 1-2 versus Arkansas, we go to yet another tie-breaker: Each team’s record against the No. 1 tournament seed. LSU and South Carolina have identical 16-8 records, and they don’t play each other until the next weekend.
So, best I can figure, MSU would be either a six or seven seed at this moment. Again, that’s much improved from three weeks ago, when State wouldn’t even have been in the field. Let’s not forget that teams like Ole Miss and Vanderbilt – both 11-13 in the SEC – are lurking. While MSU hasn’t mathematically clinched a spot in Hoover, it shouldn’t take much to accomplish that.
Two tough weekends remain, however. There’s a trip to No. 7-ranked Florida this weekend, then a home series versus No. 3 Kentucky. Winning half of those games – a tall task – would keep MSU at .500 in SEC play and would certainly enhance the postseason résumé.
Speaking of which, the Bulldogs are finding solid ground in the pursuit of an NCAA regional bid. The RPI took a bit of a hit due to playing Alabama, but the numbers are still good: WarrenNolan.com has MSU ranked 35th in the RPI, while BoydsWorld.com has it at 41st.
Florida and Kentucky, of course, provide great RPI opportunities. And a strong finish could keep MSU high enough in the standings to draw a good SEC Tournament seed, and that could be the starting point for a deep postseason run like last year.