With 2 new head coaches and 2 SEC teams from the 2013 CWS, this conference looks to be stronger than ever. Last year this conference competed for supremacy against the ACC and Pac 12 and did well. Are there teams here that you think could make the CWS? Or how many SEC Teams do you think will make the NCAA Tournament(regionals). WIll the SEC seperate from the other 2 conferences this year? Remember you can comment below. Here is our first edition of the SEC Baseball Power Rankings, featuring the 2014 SEC Baseball Preseason Power Rankings:
1. MSU- Strong number of JC transfers ready to play. A little inexperienced, but a very strong pitching core can keep them in games. The offense should be much improved as well. Interesting road game at Arizona(2012 CWS Champions) adds a new dimension to their schedule. Relatively favorable conference schedule, with series at LSU and home vs Vanderbilt as their only top ten opponents.
2. SC – A lot of freshmen, but they have some leadership in key positions, especially in the pitching staff. Pretty favorable conference schedule, with Vanderbilt and Florida as their only teams in the top 5 of the SEC. This is a team however that has been to 3 of the last 4 CWS and should again be a legit NCAA competitor.
3. LSU -Pitching Staff experience, lost a lot of talent. Great run to the NCAA postseason. Conference schedule favors them, with only two top 5 opponents. The first being Vanderbilt on the first conference series on the road(2013 SEC Tournament Championship rematch). And the second being MSU at home, and both are winnable series for LSU.
4. Vandy- Very large recruiting class. Little short on senior players. They have a lot of room to rise and a lot of room to fall. Tough first 2 conference series(LSU, at MSU). But if they can at least win a few of these series against Stanford, MSU, LSU, SC, and UF, they have a great shot to make a regional(NCAA Tournament) and make some serious noise.
5. UF-This team has a lot of upside, but no seniors on the roster. That might hurt them in the long run, especially in the NCAA tournament. SEC schedule is VERY favorable, only having to teams in the top 5 twice (LSU and Vandy), both series being at home. Another interesting game will be a neutral site vs. Florida State and Jameis Winston. So a very difficult non conference schedule balances the SEC schedule. Expect a solid year out of Florida. After all, they did have the #1 recruiting class.
6. Ala- Very strong pitching staff. Darkhorse contender. Very inexperienced last year, with more experience means better results. They do get MSU at home, but road series at SC and at LSU will be a real challenge.
7. Ole Miss- Thet only have 3 non-transfer seniors. Talented, but chemistry might be a hindrance. Tough schedule, with rival MSU and SC both being road series. This team, we believe, is a year or two away from being top-tier.
8. Ark- This team has one senior, and half of the team has never played a college game. That being said, this recruiting class is very talented, and will keep Arkansas competitive. I’m not convinced that they are ready for the big stage. Time will tell, and if they can produce in pressure situations, then I can definitely see them moving up considerably. Games in Berkeley, CA will be very interesting to see how this team plays on the road. Series at MSU, LSU, and UF should be very tough on this team. This team could be very good, but we will see how the freshmen and sophomores produce during the later innings of any given ballgame.
9. Texas A&M- Team with good leadership at key positions. Expect them to be improved from last year. Having to play 4 of the top 5 teams doesn’t help anything. Tough schedule will define this team, but they could pull a few upsets.
10. Mizzou- Relatively manageable schedule as far as having the tougher SEC scheduled teams at home. This team will be improved for last season, but they are still in a rebuilding phase. Had a tough time with the cold weather last season and hopefully they will not get any games cancelled this year due to weather.
11.Kentucky- They have a decent SEC schedule, tougher games at home. They have an interesting 3 series stretch(SC, at Van, UF). Only 2 seniors show lack of team experience. After a few fantastic seasons, expect a tough year for Kentucky(especially after that huge skid that they couldn’t recover from last season). They do have basketball to look forward to, however.
12.TN- Relatively experienced roster. However, there is only one pitcher that is a senior on this roster. Schedule is extremely difficult; having to play the top 3 teams on the road is killer. It could be a tough skid for them.
13. UGA- New Head Coach Scott Stricklin looks to get UGA back as a SEC Power. Stricklin was hired from Kent State with most notably taking the Golden Flashes to the 2012 CWS. Having to play the Heisman Trophy winner is one of the first problems for UGA. Just to add to the fire, they have to play all of the top 5 teams in the SEC. Decent player leadership, as far as experience goes. Very young team, and one of the toughest schedules in the SEC doesn’t help.
14. AU- They do get the top 3 SEC teams at home. That’s one of the few positive things for Auburn and new coach Sunny Golloway. Remember he was hired from Oklahoma after taking Oklahoma to a super regional last year at LSU. Also Golloway will be receiving one of the highest pay checks in the SEC. This team has a good amount of senior leadership, but I don’t think they will be able to put it together this year. Give it a few years for Auburn and Sunny Golloway to return to national prominence.
*note when we say top 5, we mean the top 5 of our rankings
*note that we are also pretty hard on the conference schedule but when in reality that each conference schedule is more difficult than any other conference with 9 teams in the NCAA Tournament last year(plus 2 in the cws(tied ACC and PAC 12 for teams in CWS(only 8 teams allowed))).
*note each week this will be updated with teams moving and explanations will be released at the time the rankings are announced.