The Fallout of Hogs Getting Swept at Texas A&M Wouldn’t Be as Bad as You Think

Dave Van Horn, Shane Sdao, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Texas A&M, SEC Tournament
photo credit: Craven Whitlow / Texas A&M Baseball

With one week remaining in the regular season, Arkansas still has plenty to play for — but it might already have at least one thing wrapped up.

Thanks to their dramatic comeback win over Mississippi State on Sunday, the No. 3 Razorbacks will head to College Station, Texas, with a two-game lead over No. 5 Texas A&M in the SEC West standings.

One win over the Aggies would give Arkansas the outright division title, meaning it would own at least a share of five of the final six SEC West titles before the conference eliminates divisions with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma next season.

The Razorbacks are also still in contention for their third SEC overall championship in four years, but need some help from Vanderbilt, which travels to current leader Kentucky. Tennessee — which is ranked No. 1 in the polls, but one game behind the Wildcats in the East standings — is also lurking and hosts South Carolina this weekend.

SEC Tournament Seeding Situation

Here’s what the overall standings look like with three games left for everyone:

TeamSEC RecordLast Series
1. Kentucky20-7vs. Vanderbilt
t-2. Arkansas19-8at Texas A&M
t-2. Tennessee19-8vs. South Carolina
4. Texas A&M17-10vs. Arkansas
5. Georgia16-11vs. Florida
6. Mississippi State15-12vs. Missouri
7. South Carolina13-14at Tennessee
t-8. Vanderbilt12-15at Kentucky
t-8. Alabama12-15at Auburn
t-10. Florida11-16at Georgia
t-10. Ole Miss11-16at LSU
12. LSU10-17vs. Ole Miss
13. Missouri8-19at Mississippi State
14. Auburn6-21vs. Alabama

As a reminder, the two division winners are automatically the top 2 seeds at the SEC Tournament and everyone else is seeded 3-12 as if the divisions don’t exist. The bottom two teams miss the event entirely.

That means Arkansas would be no worse than the 2 seed in Hoover, Ala., next week with one win over Texas A&M, even if both Kentucky and Tennessee finish with better conference records.

The top 4 seeds receive a bye into the double-elimination portion of the SEC Tournament and the Razorbacks have almost clinched one of those.

Georgia is the only team that could possibly bump Arkansas out of the top four. It would have to sweep Florida and have the Razorbacks lose all three games at Texas A&M, putting them into a tie for fourth at 19-11.

With no head-to-head matchup, the tiebreaker between Arkansas and Georgia would come down to their records against the highest-seeded common opponent. If that’s Kentucky, the Razorbacks have the edge because they won one game in Lexington and the Bulldogs were swept. If that’s Texas A&M, the Bulldogs would get the 4 seed because they won one game in College Station and the Razorbacks would have been swept in this scenario.

That brings up the question of whether or not Texas A&M has a chance to be seeded higher than Kentucky. The best they can do is tie at 20-10, which would require the Wildcats being swept at home by Vanderbilt.

They didn’t play during the regular season either, so their tiebreaker would also come down to their records against the highest-seeded opponent — which would either be Arkansas or Georgia. With tiebreakers hinging on each other, the SEC might be forced to determine the seeding via coin flip.

Of course, that can only come into play if Tennessee is swept at home by South Carolina because with one win and a Vanderbilt sweep of Kentucky, the Volunteers and Wildcats would tie for the SEC East title. In that scenario, Tennessee would get the East’s top-2 seed, dropping Kentucky to the 3 seed behind Texas A&M.

For simplicity’s sake, Arkansas can clinch a top-4 seed and bye in the SEC Tournament if just ONE of these things happens:

  • One Arkansas win over Texas A&M
  • One Florida win over Georgia
  • One Vanderbilt win over Kentucky
  • Two Tennessee losses to South Carolina (or Tennessee finishing with an equal or worse record than Kentucky)

Clear as mud, right?

Arkansas Baseball and the NCAA Tournament

Let’s shift gears and look at something slightly less confusing: the NCAA Tournament.

Winning division and conference titles is nice, but the Razorbacks have done that several times over the last few years and most Arkansas baseball fans are more worried about the big trophy at the end of the season.

(READ NEXT: Can Arkansas win it all with a scuffling offense? Our research might surprise you.)

Getting to Omaha is never easy, but hosting a regional and super regional at Baum-Walker Stadium — where Arkansas is 33-3 this year — would certainly make the path more manageable.

Sitting at 42-10 overall and 19-8 in SEC play, the Razorbacks have essentially locked up a national seed. Since the NCAA Tournament went to its current format in 1999, every SEC team that won at least 19 conference games has been selected to host a regional.

The biggest question remaining for Arkansas is whether or not it will earn a coveted top-8 seed that would allow it to also host a super regional if it survives the first weekend of the tournament. As Arkansas has learned over the years, that is of course no guarantee.

However, it might not be as precarious of a situation as some fans may think. In fact, the Razorbacks might already have a top-8 seed wrapped up — even if they don’t win another game.

Yes, they could get swept at Texas A&M and go 0-2 at the SEC Tournament and still get one. Don’t believe us? Here’s the research to back up that claim…

Since 1999, when the NCAA expanded the postseason to 64 teams and implemented the regional/super regional format, 58 SEC teams have won at least 19 conference games. Forty-five of of them — 77.6% — were selected as a top-8 seed.

However, most of those teams that weren’t tabbed a top-8 seed were lacking in the RPI, which the NCAA Tournament selection committee has proven is vitally important in the seeding process.

Among the 58 SEC teams with 19-plus conference wins since 1999, 41 were also ranked inside the top 8 of the RPI. Only three of those schools didn’t get a top-8 seed.

Of course, the most egregious snub was Arkansas. In 1999, the Razorbacks went 22-8 in the SEC and had the No. 7 RPI, but didn’t get a top-8 seed. It happened again in 2002 with LSU, which went 19-10 and also had the No. 7 RPI.

Those two instances can be explained away as being early in the current format’s history, when the NCAA seemed to try to spread things around. In the past decade-plus, it has accepted the conference’s dominance and isn’t afraid to load up the national seeds with SEC teams.

When South Carolina went 20-10 with a No. 8 RPI in 2016 and didn’t get a top-8 seed, the SEC had four other worthy teams (Florida, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and LSU) that took up half of those spots.

As things currently stand, Arkansas is No. 4 in the RPI and, according to Boyd’s World, has already clinched a top-8 ranking in the RPI.

Perhaps the only thing that could put Arkansas on the outside looking in is the aforementioned doomsday scenario involving Georgia sweeping Florida and the Razorbacks getting swept at Texas A&M. That would again put five SEC teams into the mix for top-8 seeds, like in 2016.


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