For some conferences, the task of putting together a schedule has become a bit more cumbersome thanks to conference realignment with the size of the league ruling out the possibility of every team playing each other twice. With that being the case adjustments need to be made, and for the SEC this means a new scheduling format that was revealed at the conference’s annual meetings in Destin, Florida on Thursday.
While the number of conference games each team plays, 18, will not change the setup for the schedules has changed. In total each team will play five opponents both home and away with three of those being “permanent” opponents that they’ll see twice a year every season. They’ll face the other eight teams on the schedule just once, with four of those games being home contests and four coming on the road.
The conference also announced the three “permanent” opponents for each team, and they are:
Alabama – Auburn / Mississippi State / LSU
Arkansas – Missouri / Texas A&M / LSU
Auburn – Alabama / Ole Miss / Georgia
Florida – Kentucky / Georgia / Vanderbilt
Georgia – South Carolina / Florida / Auburn
Kentucky – Florida / Tennessee / Vanderbilt
LSU – Texas A&M / Alabama / Arkansas
Ole Miss – Mississippi State / Auburn / Missouri
Mississippi State – Ole Miss / Alabama / South Carolina
Missouri – Arkansas / Texas A&M / Ole Miss
South Carolina – Georgia / Tennessee / Mississippi State
Tennessee – Vanderbilt / Kentucky / South Carolina
Texas A&M – LSU / Arkansas / Missouri
Vanderbilt – Tennessee / Kentucky / Florida
According to the release the full SEC conference schedule will be unveiled in August. The SEC’s done a good job of protecting many of its rivalries with this move, and scheduling stability can only help the league moving forward. Five teams reached the NCAA tournament this past season, and the SEC is expected to take a step forward in 2015-16.
When Utah released its schedule for the 2014-15 season one date, November 18, was noticeable due to the lack of an opponent being listed. And according to multiple reports, the opponent expected to fill that date provided there are no issues in negotiations, will make the Utes’ schedule even tougher.
The opponent: San Diego State, which won 31 games and the Mountain West regular season title last season. The first game in the proposed home-and-home series would be played at Viejas Arena in San Diego, with Utah hosting the return meeting during the 2015-16 campaign.
Many expected the 2013-14 campaign to be one of transition for Steve Fisher’s Aztecs, but that obviously didn’t prove to be the case. SDSU also reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, falling to Arizona in the West regional semifinals. San Diego State will need to account for the loss of Mountain West Player of the Year Xavier Thames and leading rebounder Josh Davis, but they return three of their top five scorers led by rising junior Winston Shepard III.
Add to this group a highly-regarded recruiting class, and San Diego State is once again expected to be one of the preeminent teams on the west coast.
That should make for a good early season test for Utah, which won 21 games and reached the Postseason NIT in 2013-14. And just as importantly for Larry Krystkowiak’s team, playing San Diego State will help them when it comes to factors such as the RPI and non-conference strength of schedule, with the latter being a major issue for Utah in 2013-14.
Utah returns its top five scorers from last season’s team, led by Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection Delon Wright and forward Jordan Loveridge.
Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah Utes were certainly an improved basketball team in 2013-14, winning six more games than they did in 2012-13 and earning a spot in the Postseason NIT. However even after closing the regular season with wins in three of their final four games to reach the 20-win mark, Utah wasn’t seen as a team in the mix for an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament.
And the reason for that was a simple one: their non-conference schedule didn’t offer up enough quality wins to supplement a conference slate that included wins over eventual NCAA tournament teams UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado. Friday the school announced its non-conference schedule for 2014-15, and it’s a slate that will be far more beneficial to a team looking to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
Six of Utah’s non-conference games will be against teams that reached postseason play, including a home game against Wichita State (December 3) and contests away from Salt Lake City against BYU (December 10) and Kansas (December 13 in Kansas City). Utah will also play UNLV, which did not reach the postseason, in the MGM Grand Showcase on December 20.
“This non-conference schedule contains a challenging slate of games, both home and away,” Krystkowiak said in the release. “We as a staff have a strong belief in this team and this schedule, while getting us ready for the rigors of Pac-12 play, will help us take the next step forward.
“We also wanted to ensure our student-athletes have experiences that they can treasure and keep with them after their playing days. We are very excited for the upcoming season and can’t wait to get things rolling.”
Utah’s non-conference schedule was ranked 341st nationally according to rpiforecast.com, and a number that low won’t do a team any favors when it comes to reaching the NCAA tournament as an at-large. That shouldn’t be an issue in 2014-15, and with talented players such as guard Delon Wright and forward Jordan Loveridge leading the way Utah’s chances of reaching the field of 68 are better than they were a season ago.
And it should be noted that one date, November 18, remains unfilled on Utah’s schedule so they could add another quality opponent in the near future.