Usually at this point in the season, South Carolina's doing the math to see how many combinations of wins and other team's losses they need for better seeding or a bye in the SEC Tournament.
This year's a little different.
Entering the final weekend of the year, the Gamecocks find themselves fighting for a conference tournament berth, not totally controlling their own destiny, needing to win and some help along the way.
The skinny: Entering this weekend, South Carolina's tournament odds seem like a long shot. The Gamecocks are in a three-way tie with Alabama and Kentucky, holding the tiebreaker over the Wildcats and the Tide having the head-to-head tiebreaker over South Carolina. All three teams are 7-20 entering this upcoming weekend and are battling for one tournament spot.
There's no scenario, if there's a three-way tie, where the Gamecocks could make the SEC Tournament, meaning they'd have to win at least one game this weekend on the road against No. 5 Mississippi State. If the season ended today, South Carolina would find itself on the outside looking in.
They won't catch the Bulldogs (18-12) at a bad time; they're 8-1 in their last three SEC series, are coming off a sweep of No. 15 Ole Miss and right in the thick of a SEC title race.
Alabama and Kentucky don't have easier rows to hoe, with Kentucky hosting No. 2 Vanderbilt (20-7 SEC) and Alabama traveling to No. 7 Georgia (18-12).
How South Carolina makes the SEC Tournament:
It's honestly really simple for South Carolina: win more games than Alabama and, at worst, do the same thing Kentucky does.
If that happens, then the Gamecocks would finish one game ahead of Alabama and at least tied with the Wildcats, a team they hold the tiebreaker over. That would put them as the twelfth and final spot in the tournament playing in a single-elimination game Tuesday night.
Making the tournament would require the Gamecocks to win, at minimum, one game on the road and potentially take a series against a top five team depending on what Alabama and Kentucky do.
South Carolina hasn't won a road series all year and are 3-9 in the SEC away from Founders Park.
If all three teams win the same number of games, then the Gamecocks won't get into the tournament.
In the event of a tie:
If all three teams win the same number of games this weekend, South Carolina won't make the SEC Tournament.
In the event of a three-team tiebreaker, teams are seeded based off head-to-head record against the highest-seeded common opponent.
Vanderbilt is that common opponent. Alabama and South Carolina have both been swept by the Commodores so if all three teams win one game or more this weekend, Kentucky would make the tournament.
If all three teams are swept, then they'd be 0-3 against Vandy with the next common opponent being Georgia. South Carolina was swept by the Bulldogs earlier this year and Kentucky won one game in that series, meaning the Gamecocks would be eliminated if it got to that tiebreaker.
There is a chance for a four-way tie if all three teams sweep and Florida is swept at Missouri, making every team 10-20 in the SEC.