So the move is now official…Texas A&M will become the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2012. What does that mean for the Aggie basketball program?
Here’s a closer look for fans looking to learn more about the SEC, and also about where A&M may stack up once it “officially” joins.
SEC Basketball: The Basics
As most everyone knows, there are 12 basketball playing schools in the Southeastern Conference. The league has divided them into 6-team “divisions”, Eastern (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt) and Western (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State), in the past–but that will change for the 2011-12 season.
The SEC uses a similar basketball format to the one used by Big 12 in recent years. Teams play each of the other teams in their division twice (10 games), and each team in the opposite division once (6), for a total of 16 games. The main difference had been in the standings, as the Big 12 used one 12-team while the SEC had both Western and Eastern division standings. Again, this will change in 2012 with the SEC adopting the “one standings” list like the Big 12.
League games are typically scheduled twice weekly, much like the Big 12. Games are played on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, then primarily on Saturdays—although some do fall on Sundays. As with most all conferences, TV will dictate that and fans can expect that to fluctuate. SEC play has started about the same time as it has in the Big 12 (last year was January 8, this year is January 7)—but obviously no word on how a move to 13 teams could affect that.
All 12 schools qualify for the SEC Basketball Tournament. The SEC Tourney does bounce around some—this year’s event will be held in New Orleans. The Aggies will make their first SEC Tourney appearance in 2013 in Nashville (March 14-17) at Bridgestone Arena. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta will host the 2014 event, while the Music City will again play host in 2015 and 2016. Unlike the Big 12, the SEC does not hold its league tournaments for men’s and women’s hoops concurrently.
Now, a more in-depth look at the SEC and its basketball tradition:
SEC in the NCAA Tournament/Postseason
Last year, the SEC put five teams (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia) in the NCAA Tournament. Two advanced to the Elite 8 (Kentucky, Florida), with the Wildcats making it to the Final Four. UK lost by a point in the semifinals to eventual national champion UConn.
In addition, Alabama and Ole Miss got NIT berths, and the Crimson Tide made it all the way to the finals before falling to Wichita State.
The SEC was the only conference in the country to put 2 teams in the Elite 8, and the only conference in the country to have teams in both the NCAA and NIT semifinals.
Displaying the league’s balance and depth, every team in the SEC has made at least one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last decade. Among the “Big 6″ (ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10) only the SEC and ACC can claim that.
On top of that, 11 of the 12 SEC teams have made at least 2 NCAA trips in the last decade … and 9 of the 12 have made 4 or more trips in the last 10 seasons.
The SEC has…
- 30 Final Four appearances all-time.
- 5 NCAA Titles since 1994 (Arkansas 1994; Florida 2006, 2007; Kentucky 1996, 1998).
- 10 NCAA Championships all-time and 4 NIT titles, putting it as one of the nation’s top basketball conferences.
- seen at least one team get to the Sweet 16 in 21 of the last 22 years.
- seen 11 of its 12 schools advance to the Sweet 16 since 1996—that’s the highest percentage of schools (92%) to do so among the “Big 6” conferences.
SEC in the NBA
The Southeastern Conference listed 40 former players on NBA rosters to open the 2010-11 season.
Nine of the 12 SEC schools had former standouts holding roster spots at the beginning of the league’s 65th season, led by Kentucky (13), Florida (8) and LSU (7).
Nearly 2.5 million fans have witnessed SEC basketball in each of the last five seasons:
- 2010-11 2.416 million
- 2009-10 2.519 million
- 2008-09 2.639 million (SEC record)
- 2007-08 2.562 million
- 2006-07 2.562 million
Three SEC teams ranked in the top 20 nationally in attendance in 2011. Kentucky led the country (23,603 average), Tennessee was fifth (18,952) and Vanderbilt 18th (13,802). Other top 50 teams included Arkansas (29th, 11,884), Alabama (35th, 10,983) and Florida (42nd, 10,186).
In the last 3 seasons, 8 different schools (Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina) have claimed an outright division championship or a share of a division title.
Over the last 5 years, 4 schools (Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky) have won the SEC Tournament. UK is the two-time defending champion.
Sizing Up the Aggies
All of this is nice, but how does Texas A&M stack up?
First off, here’s a look at the cumulative SEC basketball standings over the past 3 seasons, throwing the Aggies’ record in that same span into the mix:
- Kentucky: 86-26 overall, 32-16 league record
- Florida: 75-32, 31-17
- Texas A&M: 72-29, 30-18
- Tennessee: 68-37, 29-19
- Vanderbilt: 66-32, 29-19
- Alabama: 60-41, 25-23
- Ole Miss: 60-40, 23-25
- Mississippi State: 54-39, 27-21
- South Carolina: 50-42, 21-27
- Auburn: 50-50, 20-28
- LSU: 49-49, 18-30
- Georgia: 47-49, 17-31
- Arkansas: 46-47, 16-32
If this were the first year of a 13-team SEC, here’s where A&M and its recent successes would fit:
- 6 straight NCAA Tournament appearances: A&M and Tennessee (2 of 12 teams nationally)
- 20+ wins in each of the last 7 years: A&M and Florida
- 24+ wins in each of the last 5 years: only the Aggies (one of 8 teams nationally)
Most conference wins…
- over last 3 years: Kentucky (32), Florida (31), Texas A&M (30)
- over last 5 years: Kentucky (53), Tennessee (53), Florida (52), Texas A&M (51)
- over last 6 years: Tennessee (65), Kentucky (62), Florida (61), Texas A&M (61)
Most home victories…
- over last 2 years: Kentucky (33), Texas A&M (30)
- over last 3 years: Texas A&M (46), Kentucky (45), Florida (45)
- over last 4 years: Texas A&M (62), Florida (62), Vanderbilt (60)
- over last 5 years: Texas A&M (80), Florida (80)
- over last 6 years: Texas A&M (96), Florida (96)
- and, since Aggie basketball began its resurgence at the start of the 2004-05 season (last 7 years): Texas A&M (113), Florida (109)
Statistically speaking, the Aggies would have ranked 2nd in the SEC last year in scoring defense, allowing just 60.3 points per game, and trailing only Alabama (59.4). A&M’s 68.3 points per game offensively would have ranked 9th, with Vanderbilt (75.9/game) pacing the conference.
The Aggies’ field-goal percentage defense (.412) would have tied for 5th, while their rebound margin of +6.3 would have led the SEC (Florida was first in 2011 at +5.5).
They are exciting times right now in Aggieland, and with one final year in the Big 12–which is shaping up to possibly be the best in the league’s history–the coaches and players are focused on that and that alone. However, while they ride up and down the court with Texas A&M in 2012, Aggie fans will likely keep a close eye on the SEC race this year as well–and eagerly await what’s to come next fall.