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SEC Baseball Tournament 2015: Tuesday Schedule and Bracket Predictions

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2015

Arkansas infielder Brian Anderson (1) tips his helmet to teammate Eric Fisher (29)  after he hit a solo home run in the second inning against Liberty during an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game in Charlottesville, Va., Friday, May 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

Many of the nation's best schools are in Hoover, Alabama, for the 2015 SEC baseball tournament, but Tuesday's opening-round action is for those who may slip under the radar come NCAA regionals time.

With the top four seeds owning a first-round bye, seeds Nos. 5-12 will be facing off in four single-elimination contests throughout Tuesday. The winners will enter the conventional eight-team double-elimination format, but four teams will be sent packing on the opening day.

Although the elite teams aren't in action Tuesday, plenty of NCAA hopefuls will be, as a record 10 SEC schools made the tournament last year. Let's go ahead and take a look at everything to know for Day 1.

Tuesday, May 19 SEC Tournament Schedule and Predictions

Time (ET)MatchupTVPrediction
10:30 a.m.Ole Miss (6) vs. Alabama (11)SEC NetworkOle Miss
TBD*Missouri (7) vs. South Carolina (10)SEC NetworkMissouri
5:30 p.m.Kentucky (8) vs. Auburn (9)SEC NetworkKentucky
TBD*Arkansas (5) vs. Tennessee (12)SEC NetworkTennessee
SECSports.com (TBD games will begin following previous game)

Full schedule available at the tournament's official site.

Bracket

Southeastern Conference @SEC

2015 #SEC Baseball Tournament Bracket. #SECTourney http://t.co/7Wqe2udM1R

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Game to Watch: Arkansas vs. Tennessee

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Two of the hottest teams in the conference entering the tournament will face off in Tuesday's nightcap, but Arkansas and Tennessee took very different roads to get here.

The Razorbacks have been nationally ranked for much of the season and narrowly missed out on a top-four finish in the conference. The opposing Volunteers had to scrape out a sweep of Mississippi State in their season finale just to get into the tournament field with the 12th and final seed.

Preseason expectations in Knoxville involved fighting for an NCAA berth in May, not a SEC one, and the Volunteers undoubtedly fell short thus far. But they earned the chance to change that in Hoover, and they aren't scoffing at the opportunity, as the team's Twitter noted:

Tennessee Baseball @Vol_Baseball

SERRANO: It's a one-chance shootout and we know we have our hands full. It's an honor to be here. Our goal is to win & get past 1st round.

The bracket didn't do the Vols any favors in Round 1, pitting them against a Razorbacks team that has been among the SEC's best since being swept by Vanderbilt in their conference opener.

To make matters tougher, Arkansas boasts recently crowned SEC Player of the Year Andrew Benintendi, who has already caught Tennessee's eye, as Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported:

Bob Holt @BobHoltADG

Tennessee Coach Dave Serrano said he came away from series at Arkansas believing Hog CF Andrew Benintendi is the best player in the country.

With two surging teams facing off in an elimination game, superior talent can make way for superior desperation at times

That's exactly what happened when these two teams met May 8-10, when the Vols split a two-game series with the Razorbacks. Tennessee jumped on the Arkansas bullpen to take a 5-4 victory, which proved to be crucial to the Vols' SEC hopes.

In fact, Tennessee is the first SEC team since LSU in March to prevent the Razorbacks' potent offense from scoring more than five runs per game in a weekend series. The Vols will flex their defensive muscle again with everything on the line.

Prediction: Tennessee 4, Arkansas 3

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