Team to beat: Vanderbilt

Outside of LSU, the Commodores have the biggest target on their backs. They’re the reigning national champs, and they have three pitchers ranked in the top 100 of college draft prospects.

Dark horse: Arkansas

The Hogs are on a roll. They’ve won their past seven three-game SEC series and have won 22 of 30 games since dropping a series at home to LSU in mid-March. They’re an awfully scary No. 5 seed.

Most to gain: Missouri, Kentucky and Auburn

All three teams are on the NCAA regional bubble and need wins. It’s likely that at least one of these teams — maybe the one that wins the fewest games in the SEC tourney — will be left out. UK and Auburn play each other.

Most to lose: LSU

All the SEC tournament can do is hurt LSU. I know, right? The Tigers are likely the No. 1 NCAA national seed — at this point. An 0-2 or even 1-2 showing in Hoover might give the committee pause.

Three burning questions for LSU

1. Is the mid-tier of the bullpen good enough?

Top relievers like Hunter Newman, Parker Bugg and Zac Person (above) have proved to be consistent and solid, but what about the mid-tier guys? The SEC tournament will test them.

2. Will Jared Poché bounce back?

The sophomore lefty has allowed 24 hits and 12 runs over his past three starts (18 innings). One lasted 3.2 innings. He’ll have a shot in LSU’s first game to do better.

3. Can the heavy-hitting lineup stay hot?

LSU’s offense, paced by Alex Bregman (above), is one of the best in the nation — and it’s been on a roll lately, compiling 41 hits in the past three games. An offensive outburst at the SEC tournament will only help heading into the NCAA postseason.

The big bats

Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi

The SEC Player of the year, Benintendi (above) leads the SEC in batting average (.415). He is the national leader in slugging percentage with a .771 clip.

LSU 1B Chris Chinea

The junior from Miami carried a 13-game hitting streak into last week’s regular-season finale. He has 11 home runs in his past 29 games and is slugging over .570.

Florida OF Harrison Bader

The junior from New York has 12 home runs, sixth in the league, and boasts a perfect fielding percentage. He’s slugging .571 and has driven in 48.

The power arms

LSU RHP Alex Lange

The Missouri native was named SEC Freshman of the Year for a reason. Lange (above) has a 2.11 ERA and is 10-0 on the mound.

Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer

The junior from Florida leads the league in wins (11) and strikeouts (132) and is second in innings pitched (95.2). He’s expected to be a first-round pick in June.

Texas A&M RHP Grayson Long

The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has a top-five ERA (2.59) in the league with 90 strikeouts to just 36 walks. He’s 9-0 and has allowed just 10 extra-base hits in 14 starts.

Draft watch

The top 20 SEC prospects for the 2015 draft, as ranked by

1. SS Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt

2. SS Alex Bregman, LSU

3. RHP Walker Buehler, Vanderbilt

4. RHP Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt

5. RHP Kyle Cody, Kentucky

6. SS Rickey Martin, Florida

7. OF Christian Steward, Tennessee

8. OF Andrew Stevenson, LSU

9. OF Harrison Bader, Florida

10. OF Rhett Wiseman, Vanderbilt

11. OF Andrew Benintendi, Arkansas

12. LHP AJ Minter, Texas A&M

13. SS Mikey White, Alabama

14. 3B Conner Hale, LSU

15. OF Casey Hughton, Alabama

16. RHP Breckin Williams, Mizzou

17. RHP Tyler Ferguson, Vanderbilt

18. RHP Eric Hanhold, Florida

19. 1B Chris Chinea, LSU

20. RHP Trey Wingenter, Auburn


All games televised by SEC Network


Game 1: No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 11 Alabama, 9:30 a.m.

Game 2: No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 South Carolina, 1 p.m.

Game 3: No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Auburn, 4:30 p.m.

Game 4: No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 12 Tennessee, 8 p.m.


Game 5: No. 3 Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss-Alabama winner, 9:30 a.m.

Game 6: No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. Missouri-South Carolina winner, 1 p.m.

Game 7: No. 1 LSU vs. Kentucky-Auburn winner, 4:30 p.m.

Game 8: No. 4 Florida vs. Arkansas-Tennessee winner, 8 p.m.


Game 9: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 9:30 a.m.

Game 10: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, TBD

Game 11: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:30 p.m.

Game 12: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, TBD


Game 13: Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 3 p.m.

Game 14: Game 10 winner vs. Game 12 loser, TBD


Game 15: Game 13 winner vs. Game 11 winner, noon

Game 16: Game 14 winner vs. Game 12 winner, TBD


Game 17: Championship, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)