When the SEC hits the hardwood later this year, the East and West Divisions will be no more and the league will operate as one 12-team behemoth. When the SEC Tournament tips off next March, the teams will be seeded 1-12.
Andy Katz of ESPN.com reports that Florida AD Jeremy Foley credits Mike Slive with showing the league’s coaches and ADs how the SEC’s “perception” could be improved by such moves.
(For what it’s worth, if you read this story here yesterday, then you knew to expect Slive to use that very argument to makes his point.)
So when the changes take effect, how will things look? Well, let’s use last year’s records as an example. This fall, the SEC’s basketball schedule is set and the league will once again pit “football division” foes against one another twice and inter-divisional foes against each other once each. That makes this an apples-to-apples comparison:
2010-11 SEC Standings (if there had been no divisions)
For SEC Tournament seeding purposes, Vanderbilt would have won a tie-breaker with Georgia and Mississippi State based on record versus the other two (Vandy went 3-0 versus UGA and MSU). Georgia beat MSU head-to-head to split their tie. Also, Ole Miss knocked off Arkansas in both of their head-to-heac matchups to split that tie.
Looking at the above standings board, it’s hard to imagine Alabama — in that scenario — not earning an NCAA at-large bid. With its strong RPI and strength of schedule it’s still likely that Tennessee would have earned a bid, even though their place in the standings looks pretty darn bad. In our view, it’s likely the SEC would have grabbed an extra bid — giving the league six total — had this format been used in 2010-11.
As for the conference tourney, last year’s bracket was as follows:
E4 Georgia vs W5 Auburn with the winner playing W1 Alabama
W3 Ole Miss vs E6 S. Carolina with the winner playing E2 Kentucky
W4 Arkansas vs E5 Tennessee with the winner playing E1 Florida
E3 Vanderbilt vs W6 LSU with the winner playing W2 Mississippi State
Under a 1 through 12 seeding plan, last year’s tourney bracket would have shaped up as follows:
8 Ole Miss vs 9 Arkansas with the winner playing 1 Florida
5 Georgia vs 12 LSU with the winner playing 4 Vanderbilt
7 Tennessee vs 10 S. Carolina with the winner playing 2 Alabama
6 Mississippi State vs 11 Auburn with the winner playing 3 Kentucky