Auburn’s Casey McElroy tags out Alabama player during Capital City Classic.
With the 2-1 defeat of the Alabama Crimson Tide in last week’s Capital City Classic Auburn has moved into the early part of the SEC schedule. The Classic does not count toward the conference standings. But none the less Auburn sits a top of the SEC West with a 2-1 SEC record and is 14-6 overall.
That record was recognized this week by USA/ESPN with a number 20 ranking. Number 1 Florida is at the top of the SEC East with a 19-2 record.
Auburn presently plays the fifth toughest schedule in the nation, as rated by WarrenNolan.com. That strength of schedule gives the Tigers an RPI rating at fourth in the nation as figured by the most current RPI rankings (at the time this article was written).
The RPI (ratings percentage index) is a ranking of teams based on their win percentage and strength of schedule. The ratings are in a constant state of flux as teams and their opponents win/loss records are factored into the ratings.
Just like in football though, the SEC strength of schedule is due in large part to the fact that the SEC is not only the best football conference in the nation but the toughest baseball league as well.
Of course, RPI ranking is bumped up when teams take on and do well against out of conference powers like Auburn did recently against number eight Arizona State.
The SEC has six teams in the top 25 including four in the top 10 with number 1 Florida followed by numbered 2 Vanderbilt, number 10 LSU, and last year’s National Champion South Carolina at number 4.
The following ratings percentage index shows the top 10 teams and the top 10 conferences as of 3-22-11.
Team RPI : Conference RPI :
1. Florida 1. SEC
2. Virginia 2. ACC
3. Fresno State 3. Conference USA
4. Auburn 4. Big XII
5. Florida State 5. PAC 10
6. Clemson 6. Atlantic Sun
7. Texas State 7. Sun Belt
8. Georgia Tech 8. Southland
9. East Tennessee State 9. Southern
10. Stanford 10. Big South
With the start of SEC play, teams will most likely see their RPI decrease as they start beating each other. Yet, the South Eastern Conference should still hold their position as the leader among the nation’s top college baseball conferences.
Some prognosticators have said the SEC’s best chance for a national champion may be from the Eastern Division. Right now it looks like the East will most likely be a three way race between Florida, Vandy, and South Carolina.
The West has three top 20 teams in Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, and three good teams in Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama.
Although Auburn was Division Champs last year after leading the nation in homeruns – it looks like the 2011 season will be close as the Wild, Wild West get after it again. Bring it on boys!