Florida Baseball: Gators enter SEC Tournament with hope still alive

The Gators will officially finish the regular season with a winning record, making them eligible for the NCAA Tournament
Cyndi Chambers Sports / USA TODAY

Heading into their weekend series against Georgia, Florida Baseball had to win the series in order to finish the regular season with a winning record. It was dicey at times in Athens, but a monster inning on Saturday helped secure the series and keep Florida on the plus side of the .500 mark.

Entering into the SEC Tournament the belief is that Florida has done enough to earn an at large bid, but a deep run in Hoover wouldn't hurt ease the nerves for Selection Monday.

Florida Baseball: Whatever It Takes

Heading into Saturday's finale against Georgia, Florida had a record of 27-26. Had the Gators lost, they would have finished the regular season with a record of 27-27, and would have needed to make it to the SEC semifinals to finish north of .500.

That .500 mark is significant because in order to be eligible as an at large team for the NCAA Tournament, teams must have a winning record.

Florida's 12 run fourth inning not only ensured that no matter what happens at the SEC Tournament that the Gators will be north of .500, but it also gave Florida a massive series win for its overall resume.

Even though Florida has a winning record, it isn't a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. With or without the .500 condition, most prognosticators have had the Gators firmly on the bubble for weeks. There are plenty of cases to make though in favor of Florida.

Florida has the number one strength of schedule in the country and their RPI is 24th despite the 28-26 record. 13 of Florida's wins have come against Quad 1 opponents and only three of their 26 losses have come against Quad 3 or 4 opponents.

Also working in Florida's favor are some of the other teams considered on the bubble. Among the teams Baseball America had on the bubble prior to last week were Louisville, Illinois, and LSU. Florida has more combined Quad 1 wins that Louisville and Illinois and beat LSU in their series this season.

Likewise they also had Virginia Tech, James Madison, and Indiana on the bubble, and the Gators are leaps and bounds ahead of those teams in RPI.

Working against the Gators are the overall record and the mental block some may have to take a team that barely has a winning record. Florida will also be pitted against St. John's and UCF, both of whom claim victories against Florida this season.

Florida will open the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt. The winner will face Tennessee and be in the double elimination portion of the tournament.