Later today Texas A&M will begin play in the Big XII Tournament for the last time. For Aggie fans, this is a cause for celebration, as they have an opportunity to lock up a national seed going into NCAA Regionals next week and hoist a championship trophy, which in this case might as well be a giant middle finger (that's how they say "howdy" in the SEC).
What they should be doing, though, is enjoying it while lasts, because the Top 10 and the #2 seed in the conference tournament likely won't be happening next year.
A&M is undoubtedly a good team this year. They have been spitting hot fiyah in the month of May, winning 10 of 11 and finishing the regular season with seven straight wins.Their three weekend starters all have an ERA under 3, and two of them joined the 300-strikeout club in the same weekend a few weeks ago. The Aggies allow, on average, 3.4 runs per game, which is the sixth-least in the nation. Ross Stripling pitched a no-hitter against San Diego State two weeks ago.
The Aggies will likely challenge Baylor for A&M's third consecutive Big 12 Tournament Championship on Sunday, which would all but assure them of a top-eight national seed in Regionals. If their pitching continues and they keep scoring runs when they need them, they have a great shot at playing in Omaha in a few weeks.
This is all impressive, but this Aggie team would look much, much different had they been playing in the SEC this season.*
The Aggie RPI, according to Warren Nolan, is currently 11th in the country, which is quite good. Let's look, though, at what their record is against, say, other Top 25 RPI teams: 1-6.
That's, uh, not good.
Now look at the records for the top three teams in each division of the SEC against the Top 25 RPI:
WEST: LSU: 12-5 (70%), Arkansas: 7-11 (36%), Mississippi State 9-11 (45%)
EAST: South Carolina: 7-8 (46%), Kentucky: 11-8 (56%), Florida: 16-8 (67%)
The average RPI for the teams in this week's SEC Tournament is 23.
The Big 12? 65.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Aggies' 37th-toughest schedule is behind nine of the current twelve SEC teams.
Simply put, the top teams in the SEC are used to playing at least twice as many good teams as A&M, and they're used to beating those teams more regularly.
Now let's really make some actuarial heads explode and guess what Texas A&M's record would have been in the SEC this year. Apples and oranges and bad math, you say? Well, I majored in history with a minor in southern studies. Deal with it.
We'll give them a schedule similar to one they could have next year- meaning they would play all teams in the West, and four teams in the East. After randomly picking, those were South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.
Next, we'll take A&M's win percentage against the RPI Top 25, 50, 51-100, and 101-200. Those numbers are .143, .93, .727, and .813. Now we'll apply that winning percentage to their SEC opponents based on that opponent's RPI (rounding up for wins).
Top 25: LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Kentucky
101-200: Alabama and Tennessee
Counting each team thrice to represent a series, those numbers equal, roughly, 3-15 against the Top 25, 3-0 against 25-50, 2-1 against 51-100, and 5-1 against 101-200.
That means A&M, based on TOTALLY OFFICIAL MATHS AND OTHER BASTARDIZED NUMBERS, would have gone 13-17 this year in the SEC.
This doesn't even take into account the fact that A&M would also have to play half of those teams on the road. This season SEC visiting teams went 68-111 on the road in league play for a win percentage of roughly 38%.
While the Big 12 certainly has respectable crowds relative to the rest of college baseball, the SEC boasts five stadiums bigger than The Disch- the Big 12's current-largest. At a lot of those stadiums they also openly allow people to bring their own booze.
At LSU they built a billboard that sounds like it was named after a monster truck and plaster tawdry ads all over their stadium. In Starkville they recreate Sanford and Son Salvage each season in their outfield and fill it with frat stars and agribusiness majors. Ole Miss students, when they look up and remember there is a game being played, will scream obscenities about the Aggie right fielder's sexual orientation. Point is, there will be many more drunk asses in seats for an A&M SEC road game than the Aggies saw this season.Add in the fact that A&M likely will not have many, if any, fans at away games due the distance factor, and playing on the road will be much tougher for the Aggies.
The argument could be made that A&M's record against the top RPI teams is too small of a sample size, that had they played more games against good teams their record would be much better, but that's precisely the point- Texas A&M in the Big 12 hasn't had to play nearly the same caliber of teams they would have faced this year, or that they will face next year in the SEC.
The Aggies are a very good baseball program with many things going for it, most importantly insane amounts of money and a state filled to the brim with talent. That doesn't mean, though, that despite their success this year that they can expect to step right into SEC play and pick up where they left off in the Big 12.
*Don't you even start shaking your heads at what appears to be another "We're the SEC and we're better than you" article, A&M fans. You have 38 days to perfect the Official Elitist Snort of the SEC, which looks like this.