Scheduling controversies have been prevalent in the news recently, most notably involving Kentucky, Indiana, and their inability to continue a classic rivalry. Supporters of both schools are upset about the (currently) canceled tradition, and rightfully so. So the fact that the SEC announced Monday that it plans to establish permanent basketball rivalries to play twice a year is a positive development in giving fans the matchups they really want to see. Even as the conference expands to 14 teams next season, top combatants (Kentucky-Florida, Auburn-Alabama to name a few) will still see each other two times every year. As part of an 18-game conference schedule, teams will also play four other opponents who will rotate in a three-year cycle twice per year, and play the eight remaining teams once per season. There are pros and cons to this new scheduling format, but the league deserves praise for its progressive decision to focus on key rivalries.
The establishment of ‘permanent rivals’ is something the Big East failed to explore when it expanded to 16 teams a while ago, leaving its members to play three random teams twice per year as part of its 18-game schedule. As a result, old school rivalries like Georgetown-Syracuse have diminished. Instead of securing a home-and-home series against the Orange, the Hoyas had to travel to ‘Cuse last season and never got a rematch after suffering a painful overtime defeat. The SEC won’t have that problem going forward. Starting immediately in 2012-13, permanent rivals will see each other twice a year, guaranteed. The rivalry pairings are:
- Mississippi State–Ole Miss
- South Carolina–Georgia
- LSU–Texas A&M