Thursday, February 17, 2011

SEC Needs to Kill the Divisional Format

Divisional formats in college sports belong in football only. They work there. It allows you to easily determine who plays for your conference's championship. It works.

It doesn't work in college basketball.

The ACC knew this and never put the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions in the hoops side of things. The Big Ten and Pac-12 know they aren't using their football divisions for basketball when both leagues expand to 12 teams this fall. Conference USA and the Big XII also kill the divisional format for basketball.

So why does the SEC still use it?

It is hurting their conference. Right now, the SEC East has 5 of its 6 teams realistically looking at an NCAA Tournament berth. The SEC West has just one, if that. Yet when the SEC Tournament starts, three of those SEC East schools looking at a ticket to the Big Dance will get screwed out of a bye in the conference tournament while two less deserving SEC West teams will get a pass to the quarterfinals.

It really isn't fair and it really doesn't help the conference.

Right now, only one SEC West team has a winning conference record (Alabama). Yet 5-6 Mississippi State is in line for a first round bye because they are in 2nd place in the West. Meanwhile Kentucky would, as of now, win 4 games in 4 days to win the SEC title.

It's stupid. Fix it Mr. Slive.

It's quite easy. They could use either the Big XII or ACC model.

In the Big XII, they "use" the football divisions in hoops for scheduling only (the teams that comprise the South play each other twice and then play the North teams once every year). Sure, the schedule would the exact same as it has been for the last 20 years, but it would help with seeding and so forth.

Or do the ACC model. The ACC has 12 teams. Each team has two rivals that they play twice every year. Then they go on a three year rotation. They'll switch off playing 3 teams at home only, 3 teams on the road only and 3 teams home and road. So North Carolina plays Duke and NC State twice each year and then plays everyone else 4 times in 3 years.

I like that in the SEC. It would make it even more even since the teams currently in the SEC West don't benefit from beating up on the weaker division. It would also allow for some extra exposure. Right now, Kentucky plays Ole Miss once each year -- home the first year, road the next year. Following the ACC model, Ole Miss will get to see Kentucky 4 times in 3 years.

You could have their yearly rivals like this:

FLORIDA: Georgia, Kentucky
GEORGIA: Florida, South Carolina
KENTUCKY: Tennessee, Florida
SOUTH CAROLINA: Vanderbilt, Georgia
TENNESSEE: Kentucky, Vanderbilt
VANDERBILT: South Carolina, Tennessee

ALABAMA: Auburn, Ole Miss
AUBURN: Alabama, LSU
LSU: Arkansas, Auburn
MISS STATE: Ole Miss, Arkansas
OLE MISS: Miss State, Alabama

I like it.

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