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An 18-Game, Divisionless Schedule Would Be Best For SEC Hoops

Sixteen games or 18?  What about 19?  Divisions or no divisions?  What about brand new divisions?

These are some of the topics being kicked around by the SEC’s transition committee regarding the league’s basketball schedules for 2013-14 and beyond.  The chair of the committee — former MSU AD Larry Templeton — and others around the league have already confirmed that next year’s transitional slate will feature 18 games without divisions.  But what about the long-range plan?

In our view, an 18-game slate is the best model for the league moving forward as well.

Below, you’ll see an example of what we call the 4-1-8 plan for SEC scheduling.  This layout would give each SEC school four permanent home/away rivals (meaning two games per season against each), one rotating home/away rival (meaning that eventually, everyone would have a season featuring two games against top draw Kentucky, for example), and one game against each of the remaining eight league teams.

There would be no divisions.  Each team would play nine home games and nine road games.  If structured correctly, most of the oldest basketball rivalries in the league would be protected and the newest members of the SEC would be given more games against nearby schools in order to develop rivalries.

Keep in mind, nothing is fair.  Unless all 13 teams play each other twice, someone will always think that his school is getting it rougher than another school.  Also, success is cyclical.  Twenty-five years ago, who would have projected that Florida would become a two-time national champ in basketball?  Ten years ago, who would’ve predicted Tennessee’s fast rise and subsequent fall?  Complaining about a schedule being too easy or too difficult makes little sense long-term.  Give it time and things change, just as the power has shifted from the SEC East to the SEC West and back over time.

With all that in mind, we created a schedule to show you exactly how a 4-1-8 rotation might look.  We’ve attempted first and foremost to protect the league’s most-played rivalries.  In fact, each current league member has been given its two oldest rivals as permanent home/away foes each season.  In some cases, we were able to protect three or even four of a school’s oldest rivalries.

We knew that Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Missouri — having less history in the league — would be difficult to schedule for, but in the end we think all four schools would be happy with the set-up we’ve designed.

So let’s get into it…

It’s our belief that the following year-in, year-out, home/away rivalries for each school should be protected (or in some cases created) as Permanent Foes.  The number beside each foe is the number of times two current members of the SEC had played against one another entering this season:

School Permanent Foe 1 Permanent Foe 2 Permanent Foe 3 Permanent Foe 4
Alabama MSU (186) UM (168) AU (143) UT (138)
Arkansas UM (68) LSU (51) TAM MU
Auburn UGA (175) UF (156) ALA (143) TAM
Florida UGA (201) AU (156) VU (121) USC (59)
Georgia FLA (201) AU (175) UT (144) USC (96)
Kentucky UT (212) VU (178) USC (53) MU
LSU UM (200) MSU (200) ARK (51) TAM
Miss. State UM (243) LSU (200) ALA (186) MU
Ole Miss MSU (243) LSU (200) ALA (168) ARK (68)
S. Carolina UGA (96) UF (59) UK (53) VU (48)
Tennessee UK (212) VU (179) UGA (144) ALA (138)
Vanderbilt UT (179) UK (178) UF (121) USC (48)

Now here’s what such an unbalanced plan would do for each program:

Alabama — protects four of five most-played rivalries

Arkansas — protects two most-played rivalries and provides two games each year against bordering Missouri and old SWC rival Texas A&M

Auburn — protects three of four most-played rivalries

Florida — protects three of five most-played rivalries

Georgia — protects three most-played rivalries

Kentucky — protects two most-played rivalries and provides two games each year against bordering Missouri

LSU — protects two most-played rivalries and provides two games each year against Arkansas and Texas A&M

Miss. State — protects three most-played rivalries

Missouri — provides two games each year against bordering Arkansas and bordering Kentucky, plus two against Big 12 rival Texas A&M, and two per year against MSU (a five-hour drive from Southeast Missouri)

Ole Miss — protects three most-played rivalries

S. Carolina — protects four of five most-played rivalries

Tennessee — protects four of five most-played rivalries

Texas A&M — provides two games each year against Big 12 rival Missouri, old SWC rival Arkansas, and LSU.

Vanderbilt — protects two most-played rivalries

Now, let’s say for 2013-14, the following schools are Rotational Foes for home/away games:

Alabama — LSU

Auburn — Miss. State

Arkansas — Tennessee

Florida — Kentucky

Georgia — Vanderbilt

Missouri — Ole Miss

S. Carolina — Texas A&M

Using the 4-1-8 Plan for 2013-14, the home/away league rivals would be as follows (with the other eight SEC teams to be faced once at home or on the road):

Alabama:  Miss State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU + 8 others

Arkansas:  Ole Miss, LSU, Texas A&M, Missouri and Tennessee + 8 others

Auburn:  Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M and Miss. State + 8 others

Florida:  Georgia, Auburn, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Kentucky + 8 others

Georgia:  Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina and Vanderbilt + 8 others

Kentucky:  Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri and Florida + 8 others

LSU:  Ole Miss, Miss. State, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Alabama + 8 others

Miss. State:  Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama, Missouri and Auburn + 8 others

Missouri:  Texas A&M, Kentucky, Arkansas, Miss. State and Ole Miss + 8 others

Ole Miss:  Miss. State, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri + 8 others

S. Carolina:  Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M + 8 others

Tennessee:  Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas + 8 others

Texas A&M:  Missouri, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn and South Carolina + 8 others

Vanderbilt:  Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia + 8 others

Now that’s a lot of typing and despite our double-checks and triple-checks, there might be a typo or two in there.  If so, we hope you’ll chalk it up to a mistype rather than to a conspiracy against your favorite school.

A 4-1-8 format like this or close to this would enable the league to move forward while also preserving its history.  And while a “balanced” schedule is a myth, the one we’ve put forth above would be about as close as one could get to a fair schedule based on league history.



is it baseball season yet...... tired of basketball

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump


Sorry about the numerous typos and errors in that last one - meant to put Shaq in one of the Dale Brown spots

hopefully more awake now, and looking at how the current SEC women schedule works as a possible model :

16 games falls out like this (using Tennessee women this season as reference)

East = 8 games

Home and Home

Vanderbilt = 2 games

Kentucky = 2 games

Georgia = 2 games

Home or Away

South Carolina = 1 game

Florida = 1 game

West = 8 games

Home and Home

Arkansas = 2 games

Auburn = 2 games

Home or Away

Alabama = 1 game

LSU = 1 game

Mississippi = 1 game

Mississippi State = 1 game

Now this has fixed and rotating schools in each division, and it gets a bit confusing at times, but going to 18 or 19 is not that difficult because the women have been doing it for years. Point being there is precedent, and it allows for balance schedules over times while not so tightly locked by division.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump


usually you and I see many of the same things, but this is one that has me confused?

If SEC basketball is UK, then why these 4?

Tennessee, I get that one

Vanderbilt, I get that one too

after that I have to think :

Georgia - recruiting state and fan travel, Atlanta is like a second home

LSU - historic rival in the west => Dale Brown, Pistol Pete, Dale Brown and a side trip to NOLA? What is not to love?

Arkansas - they are down now, but Bud Walton is the Rupp of the west => They are like Indiana, in that there are times when 1 team is down, but over the long haul it is a riavl you want to keep.

Florida - no long term track record, and what happens in a post Donavan world? I have to think Georgia over the long haul

Missouri - hot now, but long term Arkansas or LSU are the better picks


All this is giving me a headache. Why not just go back to divisions like in football? The Big 10 & PAC 12 have it right. Arrange the schedule so as to enhance competition & rivalries within the conference & quit worrying so much about the post-season. That's like teaching for test scores instead of for learning.


Interesting plan. I like having no divisions. It is important to have an even number of games at home and away. I also like the idea of playing 18 games.


It's tough to make this all work out. Missouri and Tennessee share a common border. It would be nice to play UT and Vandy regularly. TRIVIA QUESTION: Missouri and Tennessee are the only states that border eight other states. Can you name them?


I'd prefer seated schedules based on previous years results that would then incorporate some of these home and away ideas and give everyone an opportunity at a conference title, not just those that duck a UK or MU as a permanent foe/rival. It is not like football where there will be a lot of fan travel before the tournament. Also, it will permit the new schools the opportunity to see more of the conference rather than be "slotted." The beauty of the BB season is there is plenty of inventory and if the 19 game schedule seems too difficult, then simply apply 1-14 on previous years conference results and place into pre-made schedule through an 18 week schedule.

The real question is do you weight the schedule so from the top 8-12 teams from the previous year play more games against each other than the "2nd" division.


Not a bad plan, although I don't see much point in having 1 rotational foe. You'll play the other 9 foes an extra 1 time every 9 years.

I prefer a slightly more complicated arrangement where every team is given 3 primary rivals and 4 secondary rivals.

Every year, play all 3 primary rivals + 2 secondary rivals both home and away; play the other 2 secondary rivals + the other 6 SEC schools once each.

The 2 secondary rivals you play both home and away swap each year.

With this arrangement, in a 4 year 'normal' college career, a team would play:

each of their 3 primary rivals 4 times at home, 4 times away;

each of their 4 secondary rivals 3 times at home, 3 times away;

each of the other 6 SEC teams 2 times at home, 2 times away.

This gives each school a larger set of rivalries while still allowing every team in the conference to play each other every year.

Dynamite fan
Dynamite fan

Good plan but I'd rather have 2 permanent games and 3 rotating home and homes. Anything beats a 19 game schedule that makes the SEC road even tougher.

Dynamite fan
Dynamite fan




Tennesse borders every SEC state but FL, LA, TX, SC so almost all of UT's and Vandy's SEC games are border games. It's also why the SEC tourney should be in Nashville every year, it is centrally located.

SEC Writer
SEC Writer

@Dynamite fan

I would prefer that each team plays an 18 game schedule with ONE permanent foe home and away every season and then rotate the other FOUR home and away opponents between the other Twelve schools so, you would face every team in the league home and away in a season every three years.

Here are my choices for the permanent home and away foes
Georgia-South Carolina
LSU-Texas A&M
Miss.State-Ole Miss


@Dynamite fan As much as I'd like to see one in KC or STL, I could handle it being in Nashville every year. Great city!


I was fooling around with this idea a few months back while half watching a football game. It is complicated to set up because every pair of secondary rival has to fit in a complimentary 'slot' on each others schedule.

However, I did come up with an alignment that works. It's based on geography, as I didn't have a list of most played rivalries in the SEC. I won't argue it's perfect, but it shows that it is possible. I'd like the SEC honchos who get paid to make schedules to design their own version.

Anyway, here's the setup I constructed:

Example with explanation:




for Florida, Georgia, Auburn, and SC are permanent rivals, the 4 schools in parentheses are secondary rivals. OM, UT, MU are teams you play at home in years 1 & 3 (away in 2 & 4). MSU,VU, Arkie are teams you play away in years 1 & 3 (home in 2 & 4).

The order the secondary rivals are listed indicates where you play them over 4 years (that's the complicated part in setting this up), but that's only important if you want to make your own version.

The rest of this example:










UT-VU,UK,SC (Bama,Arkie,UG,MU)












OM-Bama,MSU,VU (MU,LSU,Arkie,A&M)



MSU-Bama,OM,LSU (Arkie,AU,A&M,UG)



LSU-A&M,Arkie,MSU (AU,Bama,FL,OM)






A&M-LSU,Arkie,MU (MSU,OM,Bama,FL)






I like this idea as it gives everyone a mostly sensible set of rivals. I think it's nice for variety that Arkansas plays Georgia every year. But I don't see any reason for them ever to play twice in the regular season when they could be each be playing border states with regularity.


It's a bit complicated for the people who get paid to make schedules. It's not complicated to the fans who get the schedules each year.

As a possible example, for Florida, give Georgia, South Carolina, and Auburn as primary rivals, and LSU, A&M, UK, and Alabama as secondary rivals. Their 4 year schedule can look like:

Year 3 H:UG,AU,SC,A&M,Bama,UK,OM,UT,MU
Year 4:H:UG,AU,SC,LSU,UK,Bama,MSU,VU,Arkie

They get the variety of playing every SEC team every year, but also get to establish regular rivals with their own personalized 'division' of 7 teams.

Also, travel would be reduced for the interior schools by keeping most of their rivals geographically close (not as much for a school like Florida).


@SEC Writer@dynamite And if North Carolina and NC State can stop playing twice a year, Tennessee and Kentucky can too. This would be a good format for the SEC, and I would have the exact same pairings.


@SEC Writer@dynamite This is EXACTLY the format the ACC is going to use when Pitt and Syracuse join.


  1. [...] etc, etc.”  Such mumbo wouldn’t be needed.  Our plan would be as easy as 1-2-3.  You can find that 4-1-8 basketball plan here.Well, just as we set out to protect the oldest basketball rivalries with that format, we’ve [...]

  2. News | MrSEC says:

    [...] once Missouri and Texas A&M are welcomed into the fold this summer.  In our view:* A divisionless, tradition-based approach should be taken in basketball… * A divisionless, tradition-based approach should be taken in [...]

  3. [...] We broke down how an 18-game divisionless schedule might look — including our “4-1-8″ plan — back in January.  Our plan is based on history and tradition first and foremost. [...]

  4. [...] You can read the full plan — including which of the SEC’s most-played rivalries would be continued — right here. [...]

  5. [...] one rotating home and away opponent, and eight games against the league’s remaining teams.  We called it the 4-1-8 plan back in January.  Such a plan would work and it would answer issues like those brought up yesterday by Georgia coach [...]

  6. [...] in basketball, rather than using a simple 4-1-8 plan that we proposed months ago to protect those games that have been played most often, the league is [...]

  7. […] January of 2012, we posted a plan for SEC basketball scheduling that would have involved an 18-game slate, a division…  The four permanent opponents would be played twice each.  One rotating foe would also be played […]

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