SEC Baseball Tournament moving to 16-team, single-elimination format in 2025

BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON

After one more year, you can say goodbye to the SEC Baseball Tournament as we now know it.

The league announced via a press release on Thursday that beginning in 2025 that all 16 SEC teams would be invited and playing in a single-elimination format tournament.

Oklahoma and Texas are joining the conference in baseball in 2025 so the SEC decided to scrap its long-time format of 12 teams that begins as a double elimination one and then shifts to single elimination upon reaching the semifinals.

The SEC’s 13th and 14th place finishers have not qualified for the event.

The tournament will still begin on a Tuesday and last six days with the top four SEC teams all receiving double byes and those that finish 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th getting a single bye.

The 5-8 teams will begin play on Wednesday while to top four teams will all start action on Thursday.

The 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament is set for Hoover, Ala., on May 21-26.

The SEC had earlier announced the 2025 regular season would continue to be 10 3-game series after the Sooners and Longhorns come aboard.

“The SEC baseball regular season will continue to consist of 30 conference games for each team made up three-game series played over ten weekends,” the SEC wrote in its press release. “Under the new scheduling format, each team will play two permanent opponents and eight rotating opponents on an annual basis and standings will be kept in a single-standings format with no divisions.”

Arkansas two permanent opponents will be Ole Miss and Missouri, but a major change in 2025 is that there will no longer be Eastern and Western Divisions – just a 16-team league.

Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn said earlier that he would miss not playing some teams on a regular basis as has been the norm in the past and preferred having divisions.

“I wouldn’t call it sadness, but I’m not in love with top-to-bottom with that many teams,” Van Horn said. “I might have been one of the coaches in the room that voiced my opinion. I think baseball is about divisions.

“Just seems like we follow MLB on a lot of things. Rules, this and that. I would have liked to have seen two divisions or four divisions. I don’t know, but it is what it is.

“It’s going to be strange if there’s a year we don’t play Mississippi State or LSU. It’ll just be different. But it is what it is. It’s like what we always tell the players, whoever’s on the schedule, that’s who we’ve got to go and find a way to beat them. Don’t get too high or too low.”

Van Horn is pleased with adding two more of the nation’s elite programs to the SEC.

“I think with the way the league is set up, you bring in Oklahoma and Texas, two established baseball powers,” Van Horn said. “National championships won over the years. Many by Texas, obviously.”

Van Horn does believe having so many teams in the SEC may cost  the league in the postseason

“How many teams get into a regional?,” Van Horn asked. “ There are going to be some really, really good baseball teams that are a lot better than a lot of teams in regionals that aren’t going to get in because the league is so deep.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever get more than 10, but really we should probably get 13. Somewhere in there every year. The league is going to be really tight when you look at No. 7 in the league through 16, or 14.

“I think there’s going to be a little bit of chaos. But yeah, going to miss some of those teams here-and-there. We’ll see how it turns out. If it’s great, it’s great. If it’s not, I’m sure they’ll tweak it over the next few years.”

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2025 SEC Baseball Tournament Format:

Tuesday

Game 1: Seed No. 9 vs. Seed No. 16

Game 2: Seed No. 12 vs. Seed No. 13

Game 3: Seed No. 10 vs. Seed No. 15

Game 4: Seed No. 11 vs. Seed No. 14

Wednesday

Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Seed No. 8

Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. Seed No. 5

Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. Seed No. 7

Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. Seed No. 6

Thursday

Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Seed No. 1

Game 10: Winner Game 6 vs. Seed No. 4

Friday

Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Seed No. 2

Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Seed No. 3

Saturday

Game 13: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10

Game 14: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12

Sunday:

Game 15: Championship – Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14

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