After seeing just five of its teams make the NCAA Tournament, and none from the west division, the SEC has made changes to its conference makeup.
Instead of an east-west division format, the SEC will be just a one-division, 12-team league. Five SEC teams –Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Tennessee– made the NCAA Tournament last year. Alabama (25-12, 12-4), which won the SEC West, didn’t make the tournament.
The feeling amongst SEC coaches is that a 12-team league with a more balanced schedule could produce more tournament bids.
“We want to get more teams in the (NCAA) tournament and make sure our best teams have high seeds,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “It’s about the SEC winning national titles. We’ve got to make sure the top four teams in our league get high seeds. Our goal is to have eight teams every year in the discussion when the NCAA tournament selection committee starts choosing teams.”
The SEC currently has a 16-game conference schedule. An eight-man task force, which will include four athletic directors and four coaches, will be put together to study the feasibility of playing 18 or 22 league games or a formula that will allow the conference to stay at 16 game and not hurt a team’s RPI.
There was much criticism heaped onto the NCAA Tournament selection committee after Alabama was passed over. Alabama’s weak 14-game, non-conference schedule, which included five games against BCS conference schools –Seton Hall, Iowa, Purdue, Providence, Oklahoma State– was the real culprit.
Alabama didn’t register any wins against any of the aforementioned opponents and suffered a loss to St. Peter's.
Alabama was also hurt by its unbalanced SEC schedule. The Crimson Tide played Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt once. If Alabama played maybe two of those schools a second time and was able to pull out a win, it certainly would've have helped the Tide's RPI.
All five of the aformentioned teams made the NCAA Tournament and had decent RPIs. Playing the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State and LSU two times each was a killer for the Crimson Tide.