Despite losing a midweek game to [checks notes] the University of Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday night (yikes), Ole Miss is in a good position from a regional host perspective entering its weekend date with the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens.
Although the Rebels have the pitching depth equivalent to that of an inflatable swimming pool, they have managed to piece together a pretty good resume when it comes to hosting, a resume that has come largely without Tim Elko and/or Gunnar Hoglund on the diamond. Math isn’t my strongest of suits, but I was given the task of determining where the Rebels might be seeded in Hoover next week based on various scenarios. I’ve divided them into “current, best and worst” cases, so have your pick.
I guess I’ll start there and then dive into a little bit about this weekend’s matchup with Georgia.
Current scenario — No. 6 seed
Here are the current SEC standings complete with conference records:
1. Tennessee (18-9)
2. Vanderbilt (17-9)
3. Florida (17-10)
4. South Carolina (15-12)
5. Georgia (12-15)
6. Kentucky (11-16)
7. Missouri (7-20)
1. Arkansas (19-8)
2. Mississippi State (17-10)
3. Ole Miss (16-11)
4. Alabama (12-14)
5. LSU (11-16)
6. Texas A&M (8-19)
7. Auburn (8-19)
Based on conference records, Ole Miss would be a six seed if Hoover started today. Of the teams above the Rebels, Ole Miss holds a tiebreaker with Vanderbilt, but the Commodores also had an SEC game canceled due to rain, thus they will finish the regular season with one fewer conference game than the rest of the league.
Arkansas, MSU and Florida all have the tiebreaker over Ole Miss (sheesh), meaning for the Rebels to pass them in the seeding pecking order, it has to have a better record than the team in question. Ole Miss also has the tiebreaker over South Carolina, so for the Gamecocks to pass the Rebels, the same would have to be true for them.
I should probably take this time to tell you who the top eight or so seeds have this weekend to conclude their regular season.
Tennessee at South Carolina
Kentucky at Vanderbilt
Florida at Arkansas
Mississippi State at Alabama
Ole Miss at Georgia
EDITOR’S NOTE: Those current top eight seeds are in bold
Best case scenario — No. 2 seed
A lot has to go right for this to happen. For one, Ole Miss has to sweep Georgia in Athens, a tall task on the road in the SEC no matter the opponent (still got some brain trauma from the TAMU series). Then, you need to have a better conference record than some combination of the teams I mentioned above. Let’s say that Arkansas were to sweep Florida, Ole Miss sweeps Georgia, Alabama wins the series over Mississippi State, Kentucky took two from Vanderbilt (hey, it’s baseball, right?) and South Carolina swept Tennessee. Ole Miss would then sit at 19-11 in the conference and have better records than all those teams that lost, so they’d be the two seed behind Arkansas.
There are a couple of ways (I think) that this could happen, but it isn’t likely.
Worst case scenario — No. 7 seed (I think)
Again, I’m not a mathematician, but having done tiebreakers for a while for high school sportswriting should have made me good at this by now right?*
* Narrator: “JMake was not right.”
So, this path is a little more believable, I guess. The clearest path to this happening would be South Carolina taking two from Tennessee and Ole Miss being swept OR South Carolina sweeping and Ole Miss taking one or being swept. Neither Alabama or Georgia can catch Ole Miss in the seeding race, so this would be the basement scenario.
For the record, I don’t think either of the two extreme scenarios will happen. I think we will see Ole Miss somewhere in the 4-6 range in Hoover, and that’s perfectly okay if you just take care of business this weekend. Which leads me to...
REBS & DAWGS
I’m not making the trip to Athens this weekend, but I hear that it’s p cool if you have the chance to go. Oxford and Athens are both typically listed among the best college towns in the country, so it should be a fun atmosphere when these two cultured fanbases meet.
Anyway, as mentioned above, Georgia is 12-15 in SEC play and is fighting for its NCAA Tournament life as we speak. The Bulldogs will likely need to make some noise in Hoover to feel good about getting into the field, so Ole Miss has a chance to take care of business this weekend. As we all know, however, that is easier said than done on the road, especially for this team. Still, the Rebels probably just need one win to host, and two wins would essentially lock it up. Just go and make it happen.
Georgia has not announced its Saturday starter yet, and it will throw freshman Luke Wagner on Doug Day, which is an interesting choice, and freshman Liam Sullivan will face Derek Diamond in the Friday tilt. This Bulldog squad has been good at times, notching a series win against Florida last week, and with a home series and postseason on the line, no doubt UGA will have its bats ready to go from the start.
Thursday, 7 p.m. — SEC Network +
Doug Nikhazy (7-2, 2.34 ERA) vs. Luke Wagner (3-3, 4.98 ERA)
Friday, 7 p.m. — SEC Network
Derek Diamond (3-4, 5.50 ERA) vs. Liam Sullivan (1-1, 4.20 ERA)
Saturday, 2 p.m. — SEC Network
Drew McDaniel (4-0, 5.23 ERA) vs. TBA
Here are a few interesting notes if you’re into that kind of thing:
- Ole Miss is 6-7 in true road games this season and has not won a road SEC series since sweeping Alabama.
- Georgia is 19-11 at home this season and has not won an SEC series since April 23-25 in Columbia, Mo.
- The Rebels and Bulldogs last met in an SEC series in 2018 with Ole Miss taking two of three from Georgia in Oxford.