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CLEMSON NO. 16 ACCORDING TO BASEBALL AMERICA POLL

If you think the stakes are high for the University of South Carolina’s football team this year …  imagine the pressure on back-to-back NCAA “Coach of the Year” Ray Tanner, whose Gamecocks have won back-to-back national championships.

Can Tanner’s crew pull off the three-peat?

To do so they’ll have to get past SEC East rival Florida and Pac-12 powerhouse Stanford, both of whom are ranked ahead of USC in the 2012 Baseball America preseason poll. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 3, followed by Arkansas – giving the SEC three of the nation’s top four teams heading into the 2012 season.

Other SEC schools included in the rankings were No. 8 LSU, No. 10 Vanderbilt and No. 11 Georgia – further demonstrating the strength of the SEC (and in particular the SEC East). That’s not surprising, though, considering three of the final four teams standing at the end of last year’s College World Series came from the SEC East.

South Carolina’s 2012 season begins on February 17 when the Gamecocks welcome Virginia Military Institute for a three-game series at Carolina Stadium in downtown Columbia, S.C.

Up the road in Clemson, S.C., head coach Jack Leggett’s Tigers begin the season ranked No. 16 as they shoot for their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

BASEBALL AMERICA PRESEASON TOP 25

1. Florida 53-19
2. Stanford 35-22
3. South Carolina 55-14
4. Arkansas 40-22
5. Arizona 39-21
6. Rice 42-21
7. Texas A&M 47-22
8. LSU 36-20
9. North Carolina 51-16
10. Vanderbilt 54-12
11. Georgia 33-22
12. Georgia Tech 42-21
13. Texas 49-19
14. UCLA 35-24
15. TCU 43-19
16. Clemson 43-20
17. Arizona State 43-18
18. Miami 38-23
19. Oklahoma 41-19
20. Florida State 46-19
21. UCF 39-23
22. Mississippi 30-25
23. Oregon State 41-19
24. Louisville 32-29
25. Cal St. Fullerton 41-17

Pics: Laurie Giarratano

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