SEC Considering Bringing Permanent Rival System or Tier Model to Basketball

Under one of two new proposed systems, Kentucky and Florida would compose the league's premier permanent basketball rivalry.

The SEC did away with the divisional system for basketball last year, and I don't think anyone missed it. It definitely helped make the logic of the SEC Tournament seeding make more sense.

More scheduling changes are on the docket at the SEC meetings going on in Destin thanks to the league expanding to 14 schools. An interesting concept being proposed is that of bringing a permanent rivalry system to basketball. Each team would play its permanent rival twice each season regardless. Teams would then play four other teams twice and the remaining eight teams once to make 18 conference games, but which teams they play twice and which they play once would rotate. That way, everyone plays everyone else twice in a season once every three years.

The proposed permanent rival pairs are:

  • Alabama and Auburn
  • Arkansas and Missouri
  • Florida and Kentucky
  • Georgia and South Carolina
  • LSU and Texas A&M
  • Ole Miss and Mississippi State
  • Tennessee and Vanderbilt

The conference is also thinking about instituting a tier system to the schedule instead of the permanent rivalry system. The concept there would be having the projected top teams all play each other twice, so as to boost their NCAA Tournament résumés, and having the projected weaker teams play each other twice so as to boost their won-loss records. Either way, the new schedule will be a three-year experiment to be reevaluated when it's over.

Finally, the league wants to make a conference tournament system that allows all 14 teams to appear. The top four teams would get double byes, while the next six would be single byes. Teams No. 11 through 14 would have to play on the first day, matching 11 with 14 and 12 with 13. The winners would then enter what effectively becomes a 12-team tournament as we know it today.

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