HOOVER, Ala. (AP) - The Southeastern Conference baseball tournament begins Wednesday with an unusual combination: The Vanderbilt Commodores are the favorites to win and longtime power LSU isn't even in the field.
The top-seeded Commodores (46-10) captured their first SEC title and are now seeking to win the league tournament for the first time since 1980.
LSU failed to qualify for the eight-team tournament for the first time since 1984. Last year's top seed, Kentucky, also didn't make it. Neither did Georgia or Auburn.
The Commodores open against eighth-seeded Tennessee in the double-elimination tournament in one of two first-round games featuring in-state rivals.
Number 4 seed Mississippi State and Number 5 seed Mississippi also meet today after splitting the four regular-season games. The Rebels won last year's tournament title.
The other first-round games are Number 7 Alabama versus Number 2 Arkansas, the Western Division winner, and Number 6 Florida against Number 3 South Carolina.
Several teams are trying to strengthen their chances of earning an NCAA regional bid or landing a host site. Among them is Alabama, which didn't secure an S-E-C spot until the final regular season weekend.
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