Today, the SEC announced the men's basketball opponents for each school... and we got a pretty good draw.
Texas A&M is slated to host Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina in College Station while traveling to Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt for road tilts. Times, dates and television information will be announced at a later date.
Each team’s slate consists of four road opponents, four home opponents, two rotating home-and-home opponents, and three ‘permanent rival’ home-and-home opponents. Confused? Good. Because this is the easy part. Let’s take a closer look.
Permanent home-and-home (Mizzou, LSU, and Arkansas - all rivals)
This, as the title might suggest, does not change. Every year, we get two games each against LSU, Missouri, and Arkansas. Arkansas was solid last year, grabbing a #9 seed in the NCAA’s and taking eventual champion North Carolina to the wire... but Missouri and LSU had a combined SEC record of 4-32. They both look better this year (particularly Missouri), but still. 4-32.
So far, so good.
One game - Reed Arena (Florida, Ole Miss, MSU, and South Carolina)
Aggie Hoops recently landed at #19 in Yahoo’s post-draft NCAA preseason rankings. I share this news to point out that Florida is going to be absolutely loaded next year, they dropped in at #11... and they’re coming to our building. Gainesville has been a house of horrors for this program since joining the SEC, so this is a nice break.
Ole Miss, MSU, and recent final four participant South Carolina (still can’t believe that’s a sentence) project to be home wins for the good guys. But that game against Florida is a toss up.
One game - Road Triiiiip (Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Vandy)
Vanderbilt’s gym is a place where happiness and common sense go to die, but the other three road trips seem pretty manageable. It’s not unreasonable to expect 2-2 or even 3-1 from this group. This section could have definitely gone worse.
Rotating home-and-home, determined by ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Kentucky and Alabama)
Remember those rankings from earlier? They contain background for our final four games... two absolutely massive home-and-home sets with #4 Kentucky and #20 Alabama.
What does it all mean?
First, this is pretty good news. We avoided the really good teams in the dreaded ‘road trip only’ category, and we landed a nice home conference slate to boot.
Second, the SEC is a big boy basketball conference this year. The latest Bracketology (ridiculous, I know, but hear me out) has five comfortable SEC bids, with two more teams narrowly missing out. After last year’s stellar performance in the NCAA tournament, another strong season might mean the end of #SECBasketballFever.
Finally, our schedule is now absolutely loaded. We already had games against #1 Arizona, #2 Kansas, #8 West Virginia, and #9 USC on the books, and our pre-season tournament is stacked with solid, not-quite-Top-25 opposition. When added to today’s schedule announcement, along with the general upward trajectory of the conference, this squad officially has all of the resume-building RPI opportunities they’ll need.