baseball Edit

Examining Arkansas' chances to win SEC West, overall titles

FAYETTEVILLE — With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Arkansas has positioned itself well in the SEC West standings and has an outside shot at the overall title.

The Razorbacks have a two-game lead over Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the division and trail the East’s leader, Vanderbilt, by one game.

There is a pretty clear path for Arkansas to maintain its stranglehold on the SEC West, which would guarantee it a top two seed at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., later this month.

If it wins five of its final six games - a home series against LSU and road trip to Texas A&M - Arkansas would secure the division title regardless of what the rest of the teams did.

Because Ole Miss owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning its series at Baum-Walker Stadium earlier this season, the Razorbacks can’t lose two more games than the Rebels and still earn the top-two seed. They do own the tiebreaker over Mississippi State, though, so a tie with the Bulldogs would favor Arkansas.

Both of Arkansas’ remaining opponents are also within striking distance, with LSU three games back and Texas A&M 4.5 games back.

The Razorbacks could eliminate both of them by winning two of three games against the Tigers this weekend. That is easier said than done, though, as they have traditionally struggled against LSU.

Sweeps of the Tigers in Baton Rouge and Fayetteville during the 2004 and 2011 seasons, respectively, are head coach Dave Van Horn’s only series wins against them in 16 years. Over that span, the Razorbacks are 18-40 (.310) against LSU, including a 1-9 record in the postseason (SEC Tournament/College World Series) and an 0-10 mark in rubber matches.

If Arkansas can get over that hump and win the series, it would be guaranteed to have sole possession of first place in the SEC West going into the final weekend.

Mississippi State also winning two of three games in a battle of the Mississippi schools in Oxford this weekend would be ideal for the Razorbacks. That would put Ole Miss three games back and keep the Bulldogs two games back, which would require Arkansas to be swept at Texas A&M for either of them to have a chance to overtake it for the division title.

Winning the overall SEC regular-season title is much trickier for Arkansas because not only is it one game behind Vanderbilt, but the Commodores own the tiebreaker.

That means to win it outright - something they have done just once (1999) - the Razorbacks would have to win two more games than Vanderbilt over the final two weekends.

That is going to be particularly difficult because Arkansas plays two ranked opponents to close out the season, while the Commodores host Missouri and travel to Kentucky.

For the Razorbacks to share the conference title - something they did in 2004, with Georgia - they would need to win just one more game than Vanderbilt in the last six games of the season, but they would still be the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Here is a look at the standings, complete with each team’s final two opponents…

SEC Standings (as of May 6, 2019)
West Remaining East Remaining

1. Arkansas: 17-7

vs. LSU

at A&M

1. Vanderbilt: 18-6

vs. MIZZ

at KENT

t-2. Miss. State: 15-9

at MISS

vs. S.C.

2. Georgia: 16-8

at AUB

vs. BAMA

t-2. Ole Miss: 15-9

vs. MSU

at TENN

3. Missouri: 12-11-1

at VAN

vs. FLA

4. LSU: 14-10

at ARK

vs. AUB

4. Tennessee: 10-14

at FLA

vs. MISS

5. Texas A&M: 12-11-1

at BAMA

vs. ARK

5. Florida: 9-15

vs. TENN

at MIZZ

6. Auburn: 12-12

vs. UGA

at LSU

6. Kentucky: 6-18

at S.C.

vs. VAN

7. Alabama: 6-18

vs. A&M

at UGA

7. South Carolina: 5-19

vs. KENT

at MSU