The best team does not always win the title. A playoff, by its very nature, is vulnerable to a degree of randomness and even the very best team in the country can have a bad game or even a weekend, which costs them a title. We've got a title listed on the Intimidator that's testament to that. LSU's 2000 team was not as good as Stanford on paper, but as they say, they don't play the games on paper.
The best you can hope for is a decent draw that gives you the best chance to win. Then, you just got to hope the team gets hot at the right time. Everyone thinks that LSU has gotten hot at the right time, as evidence by the SEC tournament victory, but this isn't the first time Mainieri has taken home the trophy from Hoover.
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LSU has now won the SEC tournament five of the past seven years, and as you probably know, LSU hasn't won five titles in Omaha during the same span. However, it's not completely without predictive value. Of those four previous SEC tournament champions, three made it to Omaha and one won the whole thing. The only SEC champ under Mainieri to fail to make Omaha was the 2010 squad, which got sent out to a Regional of Death in Los Angeles.
This team might not be as good as last year's squad. The 2013 team hit 305/389/432 as a team and had a team 2.40 ERA. This year's team hit 286/368/416 and has an ERA of 2.42. That's pretty close, and there is something to be said that this team has steadily improved. Fraley and Moore have only combined for 62 starts (Bregman has started all 59 games), and Bouman just recently locked down the third starter's job.
So this year's squad might be peaking at the right time, and it's not just narrative. Since getting swept by Florida in the final weekend of March, LSU has only lost one weekend series. LSU has won eight in a row and nine of the last ten games. LSU didn't just go through the SEC tournament unbeaten, they won two games by the run rule and only played one game that had any tension.
LSU kicked off this win streak by throttling Northwestern St 27-0 in a 6 inning no-hitter. Since that game, LSU has outscored its opponents 60-8. LSU has only failed to score 8 runs twice in the past eight games, and that's how many runs they have allowed combined.
This team is good enough to win it all, and it is playing its best baseball of the season right now. Houston is no chump, the Cougars beat Rice three times this year and took the American Conference tournament title over Louisville. But they are also a fairly clear 2-seed. They weren't a serious contender for a host bid, so it's not like there's a second 1-seed hanging around in our region.
This is as good of a draw we could ask for, and the Baton Rouge regional is paired with Rice's region and not UL-Lafayette's. Speaking of hot teams, the Cajuns have won straight and they were good enough to walk into Baton Rouge and win a midweek game. Sure, that was February, but this team knows it can beat LSU. Rice, on the other hand, has dropped a lot of games against the tougher competition on their schedule recently. Rice is 1-3 in the past month against tournament teams. Looking ahead, which is always dangerous, I'd rather be paired with Rice than Lafayette.
On paper, this is a terrific draw for LSU. But as we all know, they don't play games on paper. It's time for the hot streak to continue.