Week three of the 2016 SEC baseball slate is upcoming, and I'm here to talk about it. First of all, let's take a look at the standings so far.
Let's take a look at the upcoming series.
#5 South Carolina at #3 Vanderbilt
In my opinion, South Carolina has been the most impressive team in the SEC so far. The Gamecocks are the only undefeated remaining in the conference, sweeping Arkansas and Ole Miss in Oxford to get there. In both of those series, SC exploded offensively. They outscored Arkansas 24-14 in their series and outscored Ole Miss 18-6 in Oxford. But, Vanderbilt is still one of the top teams in the conference as well. They're 4-2 in the SEC, sweeping Missouri but dropping a series to Mississippi State to open their conference slate. The Commodores are starting to get things together after their losses to State and MTSU in the midweek, but I think South Carolina's bats will ultimately lead them to a huge series win in Nashville.
My Prediction: South Carolina 2/3
Alabama at Georgia
Alabama is another team that seems to be peaking in SEC play. The Crimson Tide is 4-2 in the conference, tied for 1st in the West, with series wins over LSU and Tennessee. The Crimson Tide have had their struggles in non-conference though, falling to NC State, Houston, Southern Miss, UAB, and a midweek contest with Auburn. Georgia hasn't been to impressive this year. The Bulldogs are 2-4 in conference with series losses to Kentucky and Mississippi State. They've looked absolutely anemic at times, with non-conference losses to South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Mercer, and Kennesaw State. Right now in SEC play, the Crimson Tide is a hot team, and that's who I'm going to give the edge.
My Prediction: Alabama 2/3
Kentucky at Tennessee
Kentucky is a team that is pretty hard to predict. They're excelling in SEC play, with a 4-2 record and series wins over Georgia and an upset of Florida. With that being said, they've had some pretty bad losses as well. The Wildcats have lost to non-conference opponents like Wofford, Bryant, Western Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky. On the other hand, Tennessee has played well in non-conference but has struggled in SEC play. Tennessee has really been one of the bottom feeders in the conference as of late, and so far, it looks like they will be again. I think Kentucky will take this series in Knoxville.
My Prediction: Kentucky 2/3
#15 LSU at Auburn
LSU has been one of the least consistent teams in the conference this year. Entering the year as a consensus top 15 team, LSU has limped to a 16-8, 2-4 record with losses to Lamar, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Tulane. They have shown flashes of greatness at times, but for the most part, they've been underperforming expectations dramatically. Auburn has just been bad. Flat out bad. The other Tigers are 12-13 on the year with a 1-5 SEC record. Out of conference, Auburn has losses to Sacramento State, Troy, Michigan State, and Southern Miss. But, they have shown some flashes of greatness as well, with wins over Georgia Tech and are just now coming off of a throttling of Alabama in the midweek. They got close to squeaking a couple of games out against Arkansas in their second SEC series of the year and took a game against Texas A&M. Riding off of that confidence with the win over Alabama, I'm going to pick Auburn in an upset that gives Butch Thompson his first SEC series as a head coach.
My Prediction: Auburn 2/3
Missouri at #18 Arkansas
Let's just face it. Missouri is the worst team in the conference. They have the only winless SEC record in the conference. Of course, they've faced a gauntlet in Florida and Vanderbilt but haven't been able to pull out a truly big win this year. For the most part, Arkansas has been able to take care of business. They beat Rice, Houston, and Texas Tech (all ranked at the time) back to back to back, and in conference, they swept Auburn. They did get swept by South Carolina, but as I mentioned before, the Gamecocks are playing better ball than anyone in the SEC. I think Arkansas will take care of business again with a sweep.
My Prediction: Arkansas Sweep
#1 Texas A&M at #2 Florida
Heeeeeeree we go. This is the doozy. Using a football term, this is the series of the century. 1 vs. 2. So far, Texas A&M is the best team in the SEC West, and according to most polls, the best team in the country. The Aggies come into this series off a big series win over LSU and a midweek win over a fantastic Houston team. In addition to that, they have a series win over Auburn and another quality midweek win, Texas. The Aggies are hitting .335 on the year so far and their pitching staff has an average ERA of 2.63. Long story short, they're really good. For Florida, they're just as good, if not better. The Gators have a series win over #4 Miami, two midweek wins over #9 Florida State, and another midweek win over #22 FAU. They suffered a setback in a series loss to Kentucky, but I guess there's just something about the Wildcats they just can't figure out, as UK has taken the Gators down four straight years. In my opinion, this will just come down to home field advantage. These two teams are so equally matched and equally talented. I've got the Gators in an incredibly entertaining series.
My Prediction: Florida 2/3
#13 Ole Miss at #11 Mississippi State
Ole Miss has come and gone in waves so far this season. For the most part, the Rebels have been lights out this year. They started out the campaign 17-1, including a series win over then #2 Louisville. After taking a series over Tennessee, they got swept by South Carolina. But, I'll repeat for the 3rd time, South Carolina is playing better than anyone in the conference so far. As for State, I don't really know what to think. The Eastern Kentucky and Oral Roberts losses still loom over me. With series wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia to kick off the SEC campaign, I wish I had full confidence in this team, but I don't just yet. The biggest problem for this team, particularly against a quality opponent like Ole Miss, is Sunday. I have no confidence in our Sunday pitching, basing off of past performances this year. In my opinion, we need to win Friday and Saturday to win the series. If we lose on of those games, our chances of taking the series decrease dramatically. Right now, with how Ole Miss is playing, I don't think we can pull it out. This weekend will say a lot about both of these teams. I could (and hope I will) have a lot more confidence in this team by the time this weekend is over, but not at this moment.
My Prediction: Ole Miss 2/3