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No Need To Dump The Divisions, Just Re-Seed The Tournament

As the clamor for a re-seeded SEC Tournament rises — just as it did last year to no avail — a new issue is popping up in columns and blogs across the Southeast.  Some feel that the decision to re-seed the SEC tourney would result in the end of divisional play overall.  Not necessarily.

Among the power conferences, only the SEC still uses a divisional format.  Leagues like the ACC and Big 12 simply scuttle their divisions during hoops season and feature a standings board that runs 1 through 12.

But we at believe the SEC should keep its divisions for scheduling purposes, while dumping the divisions when March rolls around each year.

From a scheduling standpoint, the divisions work.  They cut down on travel costs for the league’s schools and they help to bolster rivalries that already exist in football.

Only come tournament time do the divisions need to be jettisoned.  Simply re-seeding the tourney 1 through 12 based on league records is better than the current format.  It’s not perfect, no, because the schedules would still be skewed giving an advantage to teams coming out of a weaker division… in those years when one division is clearly weaker than the other.  But that system would be better than the current plan which will reward a Mississippi State squad with a bye in this year’s tourney even thought the Bulldogs might finish just 8-8 in league play.  It’s possible State could have the seventh best record in the conference and still get a bye.  That’s not good.  And it doesn’t help the league’s best teams as they vie for NCAA bids.

The only truly fair set-up would require the league to add six more games and go to a fully round-robin 22-game league schedule.  But that would require too much travel and would limit the number of top-notch out of conference games SEC schools could schedule for RPI purposes.

There’s just no need to go that far.  There’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater — to use a saying that had to have had a very interesting origin.  No, the SEC doesn’t need to dump divisional scheduling, just divisional seeding.  Big difference.


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