A Plan For 18-Game SEC Basketball Schedule

The SEC made a good move in eliminating division standings for basketball, and will take another step in the 2012-13 school year by expanding the SEC slate from 16 to 18 games. There are basically two ways to go forward, a good one and a not-so-good one.

The not-so-good plan is the easiest one to go with. That would keep the current divisional home-and-home schedule and just add two rotating inter-divisional opponents that you would play home and home for two years before rotating to two others.

In that plan you would play 10 traditional divisional home-and-home games, four "rotating" home and home games and there would be four opponents you would face just once. The schedule would change every two years.

I'm not a fan of this format because it maintains an emphasis on "division" scheduling even though you have eliminated the divisions. A change in the structure of the standings should be accompanied by a change in the philosophy of scheduling.

A New 18-Game Scheduling Format

I have come up with a plan that I think does a good job of balancing "traditional" rivalries while adding more diversity to the SEC schedule going forward. It's not perfect, because anything short of a complete home-and-home round robin involves some compromises.

My plan calls for each SEC team to have three permanent opponents that they play home and home every year. Those six games would be supplemented by a rotation of the other eight SEC schools with four of them being home-and-home opponents and four being one-time opponents. You would rotate from one of those groups to the other every two years.

The challenge here is to figure out the best permanent opponents for each SEC team, recognizing historical and current rivalries and utilizing geography to make things fit. I tried to break the 12 teams into three pods of four schools each, but that didn't work as well as I had hoped. One 4-team group did make a perfect pod, so I combined that with a few adjustments and here's what I came up with.

Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State make up the "pod" and will be each other's permanent home and home opponents. The other eight schools ended up with a little bit of mixing and matching:

Florida ----- Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia
Georgia ---- Florida, South Carolina and Auburn
Kentucky -- Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Tennessee -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Alabama
Vanderbilt -- Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama
S. Carolina -- Florida, Georgia and Auburn
Alabama ---- Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Auburn ----- Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina


If a "pod" system were to be adopted, you would have to pair the Alabama schools with either the Tennessee schools or Florida and Georgia. Either way you would lose either Kentucky/Tennessee or Kentucky/Florida and those are arguably two of the very best rivalries in SEC Basketball. Neither Florida nor Tennessee nor Kentucky would be in favor of that.

My system makes scheduling the other games more complicated, but that's what computers and the SEC staff are for.

So whaddya think? The Vettel system? The Vettel system modified to have a "pod" setup or the addition of rotating inter-divisional home and home series with the established divisional schedule?

The future of SEC Basketball is in your hands.

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