Sunday, January 19, 2014

SEC Update

I have finally worked out the new SEC basketball schedule.  This is a big deal -- at least to me -- because now I understand who we are playing and why.

The SEC basketball schedule used to be very simple.  When I was a kid, there were 10 teams in the SEC, and you played home and home against each of the other nine teams, for an 18-game schedule.

But after the 1990-91 season, the SEC added South Carolina and Arkansas.  So then they broke the league up into two divisions.  You played the teams in your division twice (home and home) and you played the teams in the other division once, for 16 total games.  So every year, UK would play home and home with South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, and would play one game against Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi St.  I liked this system a great deal -- in large part because I preferred playing only 16 conference games, and because I never liked playing any of the teams in the Western Division.  (UK also won three national championships under this system.)

But after the 2011-12 season, the SEC added two more teams:  Texas A & M and Missouri.  There was a also a strong belief that the divisions had become too unbalanced, due in large part to the presence of both UK and Florida in the East.  So the SEC had to devise a new system.  It's pretty complicated.  Here's what they came up with:

First, each team plays home and home with one other team every season.  For example, UK plays home and home with Florida every year.  Here are the seven permanent home-and-home matchups:

Kentucky v. Florida
Vanderbilt v. Tennessee
Georgia v. South Carollina
Arkansas v. Missouri
Alabama v. Auburn
Mississippi v. Mississippi St.
LSU v. Texas A & M

Second, each year you will play home-and-home against four other teams.  This will take place on a three-year cycle so that once in every three years you will have a home-and-home season against every other team in the league.  Here is the cycle for Kentucky:

2012-13 season:  home-and-home with Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, and Texas A & M
2013-14 season:  home-and-home with LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Mississippi St.
2014-15 season:  home-and-home with South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri

Third, each year you will play one game each against the eight teams with which you don't have a home-and-home.  So this year, the Cats will play home-and-home against Florida, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Mississippi St.  That's 10 games.  Then UK will play single games against the other eight teams:  Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A & M, and Vandy.  That gives you a total of 18 conference games each year.

Next year (2014-15), UK will play home-and-home against Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and South Carolina, and single games against Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Tennessee, Texas A & M, and Vandy.

The year after that (2015-16), UK will play the schedule it played in 2012-13:  home-and-home against Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, and Texas A & M, and single games against Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Missouri, and South Carolina.

And so on, year after year.

So this is why we are only playing Vandy and UT once each this season, and why we're going to have eight games this season against four teams from the old SEC West:  LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi St.

By the way, here are the home-and-home games for Florida this year:  Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee.  That's a little bit easier than our bloc, but we will just have to hope things even up over time.

Anyway, most folks probably won't pay attention to all that stuff, but it makes me feel better to know what's going on.  And I'm glad that Gainesville is the only place we have to visit every year.  (Next year, Eric, UK doesn't have to go to Vandy.)

Here are the SEC's latest standings after yesterday's games (conference games only), with Ken Pomeroy's rankings next to each team:

17.  Florida:  4-0
16.  Kentucky:  3-1
91.  Mississippi:  3-1
109.  Texas A & M:  3-1
136.  Georgia:  3-1
23.  Tennessee:  2-2
54.  Missouri:  2-2
61.  LSU:  2-2
89.  Alabama:  2-2
190.  Mississippi St:  2-2
48.  Arkansas:  1-3
117.  Vanderbilt:  1-3
131.  S. Carolina:  0-4
148.  Auburn:  0-4


  1. Thank you for the explanation. It's excellent.

  2. Since John Calipari came to UK, the Cats have gone 55-15 in SEC, for a winning percentage of .786. Over the same period, Florida has gone 50-20, for a winning percentage of .714.

  3. The three best Twitter feeds among former UK Wildcats:

    -- Rex Chapman, @RexChapman, insightful, sometimes nostalgic and often delightfully profane;

    -- Doron Lamb, @DLamb20, for his pictures of interesting socks and solid romantic advice, and

    -- Perry Stevenson, @PSteveKHB, for his observations on food and his uncomfortableness in society.