The early rounds in Hoover were supposed to strain out a murky three-team hosting race between Ole Miss, LSU and Vandy. If anything, the central Alabama dirt has muddied the waters even more.
LSU's insane, holy-shit-they-did-it-AGAIN comeback against Florida on Wednesday night means that all three of those teams are 2-0 in the SEC Tourney (that and we have to keep hearing about that damn rally possum), which complicates things for a selection committee that may pick only two of the three schools to host in the first round of the NCAAs.
Two days in Hoover have bunched the three even tighter in the RPI: Ole Miss is No. 5, Vandy No. 6 and LSU No. 7.
I'm afraid LSU's 14-inning rally might have actually pushed the Tigers ahead of Ole Miss in that race. Yes, the Rebs took two out of three in the head-to-head and yes, they're two spots higher in the RPI. But the committee factors in late-season momentum, and LSU has plenty: they've won 13 of their last 14 games and beat the No. 1 team in the country three times in the last week. They also have a 9-8 record against top 25 RPI teams, compared to Ole Miss' 9-11. It's worth noting, by the way, that the head-to-head series was in Oxford.
That means the Rebs' showdown with Vandy at 4:30 p.m. CT on Thursday takes on even greater implications. Lose, and the Rebs not only cede the lone head-to-head to the Dores, but would likely drop behind them in the RPI and definitely drop behind them in winning percentage against the RPI top 25 (Vandy is currently 7-10).
As of Wednesday's postgame interviews, Mike Bianco hadn't decided who he's throwing.
Either James McArthur or Chad Smith to get the start on the mound Thursday for #Rebsbsb vs. Vanderbilt.— Jeff Roberson (@JeffRoberson_OW) May 25, 2016
The logical move by the committee, of course, would be to hand host sites to all three schools. But that would give the SEC an unprecedented seven hosts and I'm afraid the committee won't have the balls to do it. Ole Miss, LSU and Vandy are all deserving, but there's a very real chance that one of them gets left out.
The Rebs, by the way, are also still in the conversation to supplant South Carolina as a national seed. The fact that they're simultaneously on the brink of hosting a super and being a two-seed in a regional illustrates how absurdly tight this race is. The committee's never seen anything like this and we just don't know how they're going to react.
When the Hoover dust finally settles, I think we're watching postseason ball in Oxford. But there's only one way to be safe: just keep winning.
How to watch
First pitch: 4:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network