The Southeastern Conference landed eight teams in the 2012 NCAA Baseball Championship, three of which-- Florida, LSU and South Carolina-- landed national top eight seeds and will host Super Regionals too. Even though those three are hosting Super Regionals, how do the paths to Omaha look for the SEC teams?
Today we'll look at the opening round for Florida, Vanderbilt and South Carolina:
Gainesville Regional (Combined RPI: 266 - Florida 2, Georgia Tech 23, College of Charleston 49, Bethune-Cookman 192)
Florida was handed a very favorable bracket. Bethune Cookman has NCAA regional experience, but should be pushed aside by Florida. Georgia Tech was on the outside of the NCAA Tournament looking in until it won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and grabbed its automatic bid. Giving the Yellow Jackets a No. 2 seed is an example of overseeding. They were 2-5 this season against teams in the Top 25 and had to go on an incredible run at the end of the season just to get into the tournament. College of Charleston actually beat South Carolina this year, so you know they can beat SEC talent. We'll see if College of Charleston can bring that to Gainesville.
Raleigh Regional (Combined RPI: 283 - NCSU 9, Vanderbilt 21, UNCW 41, Sacred Heart 212)
Vanderbilt is a totally different team today than it was in the beginning of the year. After starting 7-15, the Commodores finished 26-11 and beat top-seeded Florida twice in the SEC Tournament. North Carolina State stated fine, had a tough 9-9 stretch from March 20 to April 20, and ended the season well, although the Wolfpack lost four of their last five games of the year. UNC-Wilmington isn't a pushover, but lost twice to N.C. State this season and faced an SEC opponent in Ole Miss and dropped all three games. Only one team in the tournament has a higher RPI than Sacred Heart.
Columbia Regional (Combined RPI: 214 - SC 8, Clemson 28, Coastal Carolina 35, Manhattan 143)
It looks as if the selection committee doesn't want to see back-to-back-to-back National Champions. While the combined RPI doesn't place this regional in the toughest three, take away Manhattan's RPI of 143 and this regional is brutal. South Carolina, Clemson and Coastal have all been ranked in multiple polls this year and Coastal has a team 2.49 ERA to lead the nation from the mound. South Carolina took two of three from Clemson this year, but two games were one-run battles. This rivalry never gets old. If South Carolina make sit through to the Super Regional, the team will feel like it has accomplished a major feat.