By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
DESTIN, Fla. – The Southeastern Conference on Friday announced its scheduling format for the sport of men’s basketball, which features an 18-game conference schedule that was voted on at the SEC Spring Meetings this past week.
Each team’s conference schedules will now feature, for the first time, 18 games, designed to strengthen each squad’s schedule and boost their tournament resume.
“I think for the conference, what we were trying to do is strengthen everybody’s schedule,” said SEC Associate Commissioner Mark Whitworth. “Everybody has a little bit different scheduling philosophy but I think, overall, we felt like to add 18 games was probably the most significant thing we could do to enhance the league’s RPI and the overall strength of schedule 1-14. To add that many games in one year with the 18-game schedule and the additional members is a significant step.”
Within the new regular-season format, it will feature one permanent rival and 12 rotating opponents. Each season, a team will play two games against its permanent rival home and away, play four rotating opponents home and away for a total of eight games, and play each of the eight remaining rotating opponents either home or away.
“The way I would say people should think about it is that in the new format, you’re going to play everybody once,” Whitworth said. “You’re not going to have a situation like they do in football, where you’ll go several years without seeing some league members. You’ll play everybody once and then you’re going to be guaranteed that you’ll play a permanent opponent home and away every year regardless. I think the key is, over a three-year cycle, you’ll see your permanent opponent six times home and away, every year. Everybody else in the league, you’re going to see four times. I think that’s a pretty good representation of getting people on your campus. It’s not quite as drastic as people might think if they just look at it on paper.”
The SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament will feature each of the league’s 14 teams and will begin on Wednesday with a pair of games.
“The tournament won’t be a whole lot different other than the fact that we’ve got the two additional games,” Whitworth said. “Our commitment has already been to make it a really special experience for the student-athletes and coaches. If you’re playing an SEC Championship event, you want it to be significant and meaningful. We’re trying to figure out the best way to showcase those games on Wednesday night because it is a long way from that Sunday championship.”
The 2013 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament takes place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, a venue that Whitworth believes will be a great host for the first 14-team men’s basketball tournament in league history.
“I think Nashville is a great venue to start the 14-team field because it’s a centrally located venue, it’s a smaller venue and I think we’re very fortunate that we’re going to be doing this in Nashville, a place that has supported the tournament so well,” Whitworth said.
2 games – Permanent rival home and away
8 games – Four rotating opponents home and away
8 games – Eight remaining rotating opponents home OR away
18 TOTAL GAMES
Georgia: South Carolina
LSU: Texas A&M
Ole Miss: Mississippi State
Mississippi State: Ole Miss
South Carolina: Georgia
Texas A&M: LSU