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SEC Football-Basketball Rule of Opposites Still Applies

Ask those who follow SEC football and basketball and all they'll tell you the same thing: it seems like there's some kind of rule of opposites in play. It always feels like wherever the conference's strength in football is, it's weak in basketball and vice versa. LSU and Florida have provided counterexamples in recent years, but those are isolated cases.

Take the SEC East, for instance. It was an absolute mess in football this year, with South Carolina's upset of Alabama staving off the presence of a 4-4 team in conference play in the championship game. The preseason favorite Florida flopped, Tennessee was rebuilding, Georgia sank to a losing record, Kentucky underachieved a bit, and Vanderbilt was Vanderbilt.

Now check the state of it in basketball. All six teams in the East are in the top 100 of the RPI, no small feat. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Florida are all ranked, while Georgia is receiving votes in both major polls. The division teams can claim non-conference wins over Pittsburgh, Villanova, Notre Dame, Louisville, UNC, Florida State, and Memphis. All but South Carolina are currently slated for inclusion in March Madness according to the latest SB Nation Bracketology.

Contrast that to the SEC West. It had a banner year in football. It was probably the most difficult division ever to play inside in the history of conference divisions. Four teams won ten games while a fifth won nine. Collectively that top five went 40-2 against the rest of college football, with the losses being Alabama's to East champ South Carolina and Arkansas's Sugar Bowl stumble against Ohio State. It was a very good year for the West.

In basketball? Not so much. Not a one of the six SEC West teams are in the bracket at the moment. None even make the Last Four Out or Next Eight Out in Bubble Watch. Alabama leads the division at the moment, but the Crimson Tide has a loss to St. Peter's of the MAAC. Mississippi State was supposed to have a good year, but suspensions and turmoil have been the rule on the way to its disappointing 10-8 record. Auburn, the reigning champ in football, is the only team without an SEC win and sports losses to UNC-Asheville, Samford, Campbell, and Presbyterian College.

Whether the rule of opposites exists from a stastical point of view, I don't know. But this year adds a clear "yes" vote anecdotally.