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Tigers vs. Gamecocks in SEC tourney

KNOXVILLE – Auburn will be the No. 8 seed in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and will play No. 1 seed South Carolina at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Region’s Park.

Senior Kevin Patterson says Tigers will be ready to play.

The SEC shocked Auburn coaches and officials with that decision after the Tigers 4-3 loss to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.

Arkansas, which rallied to beat Ole Miss 5-3 and sweep a doubleheader, won the West outright. Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama finished tied for second with 14-16 SEC records. The SEC office said Mississippi State will be the No. 6 seed, Alabama No. 7 and Auburn No. 8.

That is in conflict with the league’s own tiebreaker policy that is on its web site and in the information sent to schools.

In a three-team tie, the first tiebreaker is record against the other two teams. Auburn was 2-4, Mississippi State was 4-2 and Alabama was 3-3. As a result, Mississippi State got the No. 6 seed. According the written rules, the tiebreaker then reverts back to head-to-head, which would have made Auburn the No. 7 seed.

Here’s the rule:

“ Three-Team Tie (or more): When three or more teams are tied for a finish, the following procedure will be used (in descending order until the tie is broken): Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaker procedure as stated in No. 1 above will be used.

“A. If all three teams are common opponents: Total won-lost percentage of games played among the tied teams.

“B. Won-lost percentage of the tied teams versus the No. 1 seed and proceeding through the No. 8 seed, if necessary, using common opponents only.

“C. If three or more teams still are tied, the Commissioner will conduct a draw.”

The No. 1 the rule to which the rule refers says the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. Auburn beat Alabama two out of three.

Here it is:

“Two-Team Tie: When two teams are tied for a finish, the following procedure will be used (in the following order until the tie is broken):

“A: Won-lost results of head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.”

But the SEC announced the pairings after all Saturday’s games were complete, and Auburn was No. 8. That means they are in the same tournament bracket with No. 1 South Carolina and No. 4 Vanderbilt, overall co-champions, and No. 5 Georgia.

According to the SEC office, however, there is a paragraph in the tournament manual that says, in such a situation, the team will be seeded in descending order.

John Pawlowski’s third Auburn team needs (29-27, 14-16) needs to win at least one game to qualify to have a winning overall record and qualify for a regional.

Senior first baseman Kevin Patterson said the Tigers will be ready, despite Saturday’s disappointment.

“Nothing has come easy for us all year,” Patterson said. “I remember when we were 2-7. We came back and had a chance to win the West. We’re going to keep fighting.”

While Auburn contends with three teams from the East, including two co-champions, three West Division teams will be in the opposite bracket with only Florida from the East.

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