What to Expect from the New SEC Basketball Schedule

With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, and partially as a result of the perceived (and maybe actual) disparity between the talent levels of the SEC East and SEC West, the conference jettisoned the traditional divisional format in favor of a new format that's not formally bound by geography. Since there's technically no divisions anymore for basketball, also gone is the guaranteed first-round bye in the SEC Tourney for the winner of the SEC West.

In doing so, the league increased the number of conference games from 16 to 18 and defined a permanent (for the time being, at least) home-and-home opponent for each team, with the remainder of the conference opponents rotating between home-and-home and alternating-year match-ups. Just like the previous divisional format, the Hogs will face every team in the conference at least once this season.

That's where the similarities end. Arkansas' permanent rival is Mizzou, meaning we'll be playing the Tigers twice a year for the foreseeable future. For those pining for the "good ol' days" of Razorback basketball, note that Kentucky's permanent rival is currently Florida. Admittedly, those are the two best teams in the conference now, but I'd love to see Mike get the team back to the point where Hogs vs. Cats is a can't-miss match-up.

Remember when I said that the new schedule format wasn't "bound by geography?" I wasn't kidding. In addition to Mizzou, Arkansas plays Florida, Vanderbilt, Auburn, and TAMU twice each. This means that the Hogs will face fellow SEC West teams LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi St., and Alabama only once this season. Doesn't really make logistical sense, right?

The official SEC slate is listed below:

Date

Opponent

Location

Tuesday, Jan. 8

Texas A&M

College Station, TX

Saturday, Jan. 12

Vanderbilt

Bud Walton Arena

Wednesday, Jan. 16

Auburn

Bud Walton Arena

Saturday, Jan. 19

Ole Miss

Oxford, MS

Wednesday, Jan. 23

Mississippi St.

Bud Walton Arena

Saturday, Jan. 26

South Carolina

Columbia, SC

Thursday, Jan. 31

Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Saturday, Feb. 2

Tennessee

Bud Walton Arena

Tuesday, Feb. 5

Florida

Bud Walton Arena

Saturday, Feb. 9

Vanderbilt

Nashville, TN

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Auburn

Auburn, AL

Saturday, Feb. 16

Mizzou

Bud Walton Arena

Thursday, Feb. 21

Georgia

Bud Walton Arena

Saturday, Feb. 23

Florida

Gainesville, FL

Wednesday, Feb. 27

LSU

Baton Rouge, LA

Saturday, Mar. 2

Kentucky

Bud Walton Arena

Tuesday, Mar. 5

Mizzou

Columbia, MO

Saturday, Mar. 9

Texas A&M

Bud Walton Arena

On the bright side, Arkansas gets UT and UK at home. On the downside, both games with Florida (who will probably be our most "marquee" conference opponent besides UK) come on short rest.

The new format may not make as much logical sense as the previous divisional slate (and, in my unvalidated opinion, is exceptionally susceptible to scheduling inequity), but it definitely makes for an exciting 2012-2013 slate. Arkansas also has some great non-conference games on its plate, with a home game with Syracuse as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge and games against Arizona St. and either Wisconsin or Creighton in the Las Vegas Invitational already scheduled, so it should be an interesting season.

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