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Stansbury, Fox Have Two Very Different Views On Basketball Divisions

Mike Slive has made it quite clear that he eventually would like to see the SEC move to an 18-game conference schedule in basketball.  Scrapping the East and West divisions in hoops is also a top talking point for the league commissioner.

“In basketball, almost all the conferences don’t have divisions, so we ought to be asking ourselves the question, ‘Is this what we want?,’” Slive said.  “Rather than just going blankly on, should we take a look and see if we like it?”

For the most part, East Division coaches — and that’s been the stronger division the past couple of years — are in favor of doing away with the divisional set-up.  West Division coaches have not favored the move.  Again, we’re generalizing.

Mark Fox of Georgia represents the East’s way of thinking:

“We have to look very hard at going away from divisions.  Two years in a row, the Western Division champion has been left out of the NCAA Tournament.  For the health of our league, I think we have to look at it. 

There is no championship playoff between the division winners like in football.  What is that format doing to help us?  I’m not saying we have to change it, but we have to evaluate what’s the best thing for SEC basketball.”

Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury speaks for most West Division coaches:

“Why change it?  Why change the way the system is?  I think it worked well for several years.

It gives the opportunity for an extra team or two to compete for championships in January or February, which, in turn, helps the fans and gives them something to look forward to.”

Divisional strength is a cyclical thing.  Re-seeding the SEC Tournament from 1 through 12 can overcome that issue.

However, from a money standpoint, if the league believes that the publication of divisional standings — with one division looking strong and the other looking weak — hurts the chances of SEC teams vying for at-large NCAA Tournament berths, then the divisions need to go. 

Slive has chaired the NCAA tourney selection committee.  He should have a fine grasp as to how much of a role “perception” plays in the selection process.  If he can make the case that the SEC is leaving bids on the table — and therefore money on the table — because of divisional play, then it’s likely that he can eventually push through a division-less system for SEC hoops.



  1. [...] SEC’s “perception” could be improved by such moves.  (For what it’s worth, if you read this story here yesterday, then you knew to expect Slive to use that very argument to makes his point.)So when the [...]

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