Who will emerge? A breakdown of the SEC’s baseball rankings after two conference series

Who will emerge?  A breakdown of the SEC's baseball rankings after two conference series
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Before the 2023 college baseball season started, the Reveille’s front page read, “Omaha or Bust.”

That statement reflected the preseason hype that surrounded LSU’s baseball team, but also was a wakeup call to LSU and college baseball fans in general. The Tigers are ready to make a run at a 7th national championship and every preseason poll has backed that idea up.  

Led by second year head coach Jay Johnson and former MLB pitching coach Wes Johnson, the talent on LSU’s roster is something baseball fans in Baton Rouge haven’t seen in over a decade. One could make an argument that this is the best LSU baseball team ever assembled. However, college baseball fans understand that the SEC is loaded with future MLB level talent and remember the hype surrounding last year’s Tennessee team that failed to win a national championship.  

LSU baseball has been the “little brother” to LSU football for years and the reason for that is Louisiana sports’ fans hate losing. A familiar SEC phrase comes to mind, “It just means more.”  

For the first time in a long time, LSU’s baseball team, rather than football, is on the minds of every LSU fan in Baton Rouge. This 2023 team has even drawn comparisons to the 2019 National Champion LSU football team.  

The biggest obstacle facing the No. 1 ranked LSU is the very conference it is apart of. 

Through the first 25 games of the season, LSU has only lost three; Iowa, Texas A&M and Arkansas. According to the NCAA’s online stats, Iowa is now seated at No. 25 in the country. Texas A&M, who was ranked No. 15 when playing LSU, has dropped out of the top 25 after its recent sweep by Tennessee. Arkansas moved down to No. 6 after taking two losses in a double header against LSU.  

Through the first two SEC series, the top 25 rankings have been shuffled. Teams in the same conference must face each other. This shuffling almost certainly will continue throughout the season as more in-conference, three game series take place. Some SEC teams have moved up in the rankings since SEC play began and others have been unaffected such as LSU and Florida. So just how good is the rest of the SEC’s top 25 in comparison to the No. 1 ranked Tigers? 

These rankings correspond to the USA Today baseball coaches’ poll. It is conducted weekly throughout the season and is created by 31 Division 1 coaches.  

The Gators went 4-0 last week against in-state rival Florida State and swept the ranked Ole Miss Rebels. They possess a 22-4 overall record and are 5-1 against the SEC and top 25 opponents. They also boast one of the hottest sluggers in all of college baseball in Jac Caglianone, who has 17 home runs on the season. Florida is not on LSU’s regular season schedule. 

Vanderbilt’s baseball program is almost always in the top 25 rankings. The Commodores have moved up from the No. 5 spot thanks to back-to-back sweeps of Ole Miss and Mississippi State. In the State series, Parker Noland had three home runs and 14 RBIs. Vanderbilt is not on LSU’s regular season schedule.  

The Razorbacks dropped three places in the coaches’ poll due to back-to-back losses against LSU, one of which was a 10-run rule. On the other hand, they did give the Tigers their first loss of the season in Alex Box Stadium. Arkansas possesses a 20-4 overall record and is 4-2 against SEC opponents. In its lone win against LSU, pitching was the key to success and will likely be its calling card for the rest of the season.  

The Gamecocks were riding an 11-game winning streak before they lost on the road against Charlotte. They swept their first two SEC series but barely pulled off a win in game three against Missouri. The Gamecocks sport an impressive 23-2 overall record and are 6-0 against SEC opponents. They should be a fun group to watch as the season comes to an end and have the potential deep playoff run. LSU will travel to Columbia, South Carolina for a three-game series beginning on April 6th.  

Tennessee recently moved up three rankings in the poll. Though the Volunteers were swept in a three-game series by Missouri, those losses were followed by four straight wins, including a sweep over Texas A&M. They possess a 19-6 overall record but have one of the deepest bullpens in all of college baseball highlighted by Chase Dollander and Chase Burns. The Volunteers travel to Baton Rouge this weekend for the first time since 2018 in what could be one of the best three-game series all season.  

“We’re facing an incredibly talented opponent with a great pitching staff, one of the best staffs in the country. They have an explosive position player group, and they know how to win, so it’s going to be a fun weekend, and I know our players are looking forward to it. We’ve got seven more SEC weekends just like this one coming up, so we’ll focus on this one, attack it, and move on to the next one,” LSU’s head coach Jay Johnson said about the upcoming top 10 showdown. 

The Wildcats moved up six spots in the most recent poll. They were riding a 17-game winning streak before dropping their final game in the Alabama series. This winning streak is the longest in the nation so far this season and the longest in the program’s history since 2012. Kentucky is 21-3 overall and 5-1 against the SEC. The Wildcats will travel to Baton Rouge for a three-game series beginning on April 13th. There is a chance Kentucky will crack the top 15 depending on how it plays in its upcoming series against Missouri.  

The defending National Champions have dropped 12 spots in the poll. This drop is due to back-to-back sweeps by Vanderbilt and Florida. To put it simply, Ole Miss is not the same team it was last season and will be a fringe top 25 team all season long. The Rebels’ best chance to flip the script is when they play LSU in Oxford beginning on April 21st.

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About Marc Lemoine 1916 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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