South Carolina worrying at wrong time
HOOVER, Ala. – Ray Tanner must worry about the wrong things at the wrong time.
Just a week ago, the Gamecocks hosted Florida for a series that decided the SEC regular-season title. The Gamecocks were unable to take care of business, and the Gators won the conference crown.
The SEC tournament was a chance to get things back on track.
But after Thursday’s loss to Auburn to go 0-2 and home in the SEC tournament, Tanner and the Gamecocks are headed back to the drawing board. That especially is the case with the offense, which scored just a run in 21 innings against Mississippi and Auburn.
“We’re going back home, and we’re starting two-a-days at 11 a.m. in the morning,” Tanner said. “We need to be a little more aggressive. We’re going back to work.”
What the Gamecocks accomplish in practice the next few days will help them for the road ahead. But their play in the SEC tournament could have more far-reaching consequences than just some unwanted practices.
The Gamecocks’ performances in Hoover might’ve cost them a national seed.
“There are probably some years where how you play in the conference tournament doesn’t hurt you because the committee looks at your entire body of work. I don’t really look at the other tournaments to see how others are playing,” Tanner said. “I’m not really sure about [our chances], and I don’t want to speculate.”
Deep down Tanner and the Gamecocks entered the tournament feeling great about their chances of earning a national seed on Selection Monday. Now, the Gamecocks don’t seem to have the same confidence and swagger they had just a couple of weeks ago.
The NCAA committee will determine their fate as a national seed. At this point, the Gamecocks could go either way.
Even with a 0-2 record this week, there are plenty of items in the Gamecocks’ favor. They finished just a game behind Florida, a definite national seed, in the SEC standings. They also will enter Selection Monday with an excellent resume against RPI top-25 and top-50 clubs.
For instance, the Gamecocks are 12-8 against the RPI top 25 and 20-11 against the RPI top 50. They also had an RPI of 14 entering Thursday’s contest with Auburn.
No other team in the mix for a national seed currently boasts such an impressive resume against the RPI top 25 and top 50. There are some, such as Cal State Fullerton, Georgia Tech and Auburn that now have better RPIs, though. Those teams also have some strikes against them.
Fullerton has been red-hot down the stretch and has a fantastic RPI. However, the Titans are just 6-7 against the RPI top 25 and 8-8 against the RPI top 50. Georgia Tech has a fantastic RPI and a very solid 9-3 record against the RPI top 25. However, it’s just 13-9 against the RPI top 50.
Auburn, should it reach the final of the SEC tournament, could be a team to watch. The Tigers have only a 7-10 record against RPI top 25 teams but obviously would improve that mark by reaching the tournament title game. The Tigers currently have a respectable 18-13 mark against the RPI top 50.
Compared to their counterparts in the race for the last national seed, South Carolina still appears to have a slight edge. But looking ahead to the rest of the week, Fullerton should improve its record with a home series against Cal State Northridge, Georgia Tech still has games against N.C. State and Clemson left at the ACC tournament, and Auburn will play Mississippi in an elimination game on Friday with the opportunity to play more games.
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, are back at home for practice the rest of the week.
Hope still is alive and well, though. So is an impressive resume.
Will the NCAA selection committee agree?