So if you read yesterday’s article on this website from Ryan, he talked about what adding Oklahoma and Texas would/could mean from a football side.
Today, we’re going to look at what it could mean from a basketball scheduling perspective.
99.999998% of people that are talking about Texas and Oklahoma right now are focusing solely how it will affect SEC football and that thought excites me greatly. But I’m a basketball guy so my mind went to thinking about how these two basketball programs would fit into the conference.
From a basketball perspective, I would welcome Texas and Oklahoma with open arms. The Big 12 has been one of the best conferences from top to bottom the last several years and those two teams would make what is becoming a deep basketball conference even better.
After Rick Barnes took Texas to the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, including a Final Four, they replaced him with Shaka Smart who underachieved in 6 seasons, failing to win a NCAA Tournament game. With the hot seat getting even hotter, Smart left for Marquette and Texas had one target to replace him. Chris Beard was the perfect guy for Texas and early returns indicate they are about to do really big things. They will be a Preseason Top 10 team this season and are also a year away from moving into a new arena as well.
As for Oklahoma, they’ve been to 7 NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four during Lon Kruger’s 11 seasons in Norman. I’m excited to see what Porter Moser does at Oklahoma with all of the success he had at Loyola-Chicago as he takes over for Kruger. Auburn will get to see the Sooners on January 29th for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this year as well so perhaps a conference matchup preview is in store for us.
So what do you do with the SEC Hoops Schedule with 16 teams? First and foremost, you would all but likely have to expand the SEC schedule to 20 conference games. This means 2 less non-conference games you would have to schedule and would put you on par with the ACC and Big 10 who have a 20 game schedule as well (not counting last season of course).
Honestly, I think the model the league has now is totally fine and shouldn’t be altered too much. Since you’re adding 2 teams, adding the 2 games makes sense and then keep everything else status quo.
The status quo being: Play a home-and-home with 3 opponents every season (3 permanent rivals), a home-and-home with 2 rotating opponents and the other 10 teams you would face once a season, 5 at home and 5 on the road.
Here is the current model of permanent opponents for each current SEC school:
Here’s my proposal of what these could be like if the Sooners and Longhorns join the conference. (New permanent opponents are in red)
The goal here was to mix things up a bit and with the exception of Georgia and Kentucky, we’ve done that as I’ve given 12 schools at least 1 new permanent opponent.
The first thing I’m sure most people would want to know reading this is who I would have as permanent opponents for Auburn and while I kept Alabama and Georgia, I went with Tennessee as the 3rd one.
Some would say that Tennessee is Auburn’s biggest basketball rival, depending on the day and who you ask. Considering how things have gone for the Tigers against the Vols lately, I think most would like this change. The teams have had some great games over the past few years against each other and it just feels right for these 2 teams to play twice every year.
With Texas being one of the new kids on the block, we’ve kept the Red River Showdown together, plus gave them Texas A&M (I’m sure they will love that) but for their third opponent, I went with Alabama. If Nate Oats stays in Tuscaloosa and Chris Beard can meet the enormous expectations that come with his arrival in Austin, this would be a lot of fun to see twice each season.
As for Oklahoma, we gave them their 3 bordering states, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas as their permanent opponents.
There were 2 schools that would get 2 new permanent opponents: Texas A&M and South Carolina. Somehow these two schools ending up being permanent opponents on the football side of things so why not do it for basketball as well? Texas A&M of course gets Texas and they keep LSU as well as that has become a pretty decent rivalry in the league. As for South Carolina, they have won 6 of their last 9 games with the Gators so I can see this being a welcome change for them.
It sounds like we’re in for a fun few days/weeks/months of rumors and speculation on the subject and if this falls through, well, at least it gave us something to talk about as we make our journey through the summer towards football season.