The SEC Tournament does matter

Hogs have already secured the top overall seed in the NCAAT. Rest up and be ready for June. The only thing that matters is getting to/winning the CWS.

Those are just a few things commonly prefaced before many Hog fans say “the SEC Tournament doesn’t matter”.

Perhaps those statements are factual, and even true to many fans. But not so to players and coaches at this level. This Tournament does in fact matter.

Vanderbilt came to Hoover in 2019 in basically in the same position as these Hogs (only difference is/was, Vandy was a lock to be a 1-3 seed in 2019, not necessarily #1). The ‘Dores won SEC regular season, won in Hoover, then won their 2nd natty as the 2 national seed.

No practice or scrimmage can simulate real game conditions. Especially conditions of the postseason. Coach referenced more than once, “the big stage”, when describing the SECT. More than half of our regulars have never played on a stage as big as the SECT, much less a Regional, SR, or CWS. Same can be said for many of the arms we are relying on to bring home the Hogs’ first baseball natty.

Lockhart’s success against UGA could provide the needed experience and confidence to put him where we need him to be in late June. Tole might need to get an out or 2 next month, and now has some “big stage” experience.

Even guys that have been there before can use Hoover to improve. Goodheart needs reps to find his confidence again. (I sat 10 feet from the Hogs’ dugout Wednesday, and saw/heard every reaction the players had after every at bat. These at bats very much matter to Goodheart).

More than anything, the game matters to these guys, and winning certainly matters. Every game experience/success builds on the next one. The Hogs are locked in on the NEXT game, not the one after that.

Like a former coach of mine habitually said, “If winning didn’t matter, they wouldn’t have a scoreboard “… winning in Hoover certainly matters to these Hogs.

I think there is a difference between it matters on a micro level and it matters in the big picture.

Position players who start are used to playing, so staying in routine is important. Being competitive when you step on the field is the norm for everybody but veterans playing in pro exhibition games-and even those guys want to play well. Reserves and guys trying to work through problems also like to get on the field, too, and that does help with depth. So on a micro level the games do matter to keep the team grinding along through the season, which every team has to do.

But in the big picture these games really don’t matter to any team that doesn’t need wins to get in/host in the NCAAs. The prize is in Omaha, not Hoover. The players know it, and the coaching staff sure knows it. This is like a week long break in the conference schedule, with mid-week type games filling the gap. Like most other mid-week games for elite level teams, no one thinks much about them more than a day later, unless something goes badly wrong.

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I’d like to win it, but not at the expense of overworking arms or otherwise putting too much stress on the team. That’s why Kopps is on limited duty—maybe none. I agree the pressure is probably good, but we play in front of larger crowds most weekends. I don’t want to go 0~2, but I don’t want to play 5 games, either. I’d like to win today and win Saturday and Sunday. And let lots of pitchers and a couple of catchers get some work.

I think when most people say it doesn’t matter, they mean it doesn’t matter very much or as much as anything coming next. To me it doesn’t matter nearly as much as the regular season title

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Vanderbilt also brought the No. 1 team to Hoover in 2007, won the tournament and lost its regional to Michigan the next week as the top overall seed. That was the team with David Price.

Something similar happened with Ole Miss in 2018.

I think the tournament matters more for some teams than others. It matters a lot to Alabama right now. Most of the other teams are going to benefit from getting game work, but they will treat the games differently, primarily in how they pitch. The top teams would like to win, but none are going to be torn up if they don’t.

That’s pretty much how I view it. It would be nice to finally get an SEC tournament title after a couple of championship game losses, but no biggie if we don’t. The real prize is awarded in Douglas County, Nebraska, not Jefferson County, Alabama.

Agree with your last sentence, but…

If MSU goes 0-2 in Hoover (as I type, Vols are up 4-1 in bottom of 3rd), they might drop below an 8 national seed. Might be a big difference in winning a SR in Lubbock or Palo Alto instead of Starkville.

I think Mississippi State is a lock to be a top-8 seed.

Yes. To the extent the conference tourney can help or hurt a team’s NCAAT seeding, it can mean a lot. No one disputes that. Obviously a team on the bubble badly needs to do well in Hoover. UGA is a good example. It’s chances of winning the tournament are poor, but if it could win 2 or 3 games, it’s almost certain to make the field. Going 1-2 or 0-fer, it’s a bit more dicey. LSU needed a win & didn’t get it. It still might make it, but it’s not a shoe-in & it’s not going to host or likely playing close to home.

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