Even if you don’t enjoy this article, you can enjoy the picture above with Beisner draining a jumper in the face of Matt Jones. (Just trust me, it went in) Beisner’s caption on this picture was ” We battled snow the entire college basketball road trip. But, on this day, Matt Jones only got rained on.”
My good buddy, Hunter Campbell wrote a very well thought out and persuasive article on Monday about changing the format of the SEC Tournament. Basically, the idea was to get rid of the division seeding and instead seed the teams 1-12 with conference record. And I will admit that this season the East Division has been significantly more talented and impressive than the West, where its not clear that any team is going to make the NCAA Tournament. But, I think this argument and the article that Hunter accompanied with it, are completely snap-judgements, and are entirely unnecessary. And of course I will tell you why.
Since the SEC Tournament moved into a division format in 1993, where east met west in the first round, and theoretically in the rounds that follow it, the two divisions have played fairly evenly.
East: 77 wins (55%)
West: 64 wins (45%)
And since that same 1993 tournament through last years tournament, the total SEC Tournament titles each division has taken in is also even:
Kentucky: 9 titles
East Division: 4 titles
West Division: 4 titles
And really, when it comes to SEC stats throughout history, its basically UK and everybody else in every statistical category.
Point being, the idea that one division (East) has some huge advantage of the other division (West) doesn’t hold any weight statistically. And much like the stats titles above, if you take UK’s wins against the West away, the West division has actually beaten the East more often than not. If anything, you could argue that the WEST has been the stronger division over the years in this tournament.
You also can’t just seed the tournament 1-12 because the scheduling during the season is off-balance. If, for instance, the East is significantly better than the West this season, how is it fair to UK to play Vandy and Tennessee twice, while Ole Miss only has to play them once? How is it fair for the other West schools to play LSU twice but Kentucky and the East schools only get them once. Thus, UK’s overall seed would be hampered by the fact that it played a tougher schedule.
Again, I will admit this THIS YEAR is skewed in the SEC. In a 1-12 seeding format, the 4 teams that would receive byes would all have been from the East. But, that is one year, and this has never happened before in the current SEC setup. So why do we suddenly have to make a wholesale change of the tournament? Personally, I get a little extra excitement to see East school face West schools. I like the fact that UK will likely play an Arkansas or Mississippi St. for just the second time, rather than a Florida for the third time. We already saw UK beat Florida twice, do we really need to see that game a 3rd time? I would much rather watch a UK-Mississippi St. rematch.
Sometimes makes snap judgements on one event is a good thing. NASCAR upgraded safety devices in the car after Dale Earnhart died, and I would say that was obviously a good thing. But even in that case, drivers had been getting in wrecks for decades without the current safety system in place and would escape with minor injuries. But Earnhart had a freak accident that killed him, and suddenly there was a call for “widespread changes” as if this had been a problem for years in NASCAR. The same can be said for the SEC season this year, where the East was so much better than the East, yet people act as if they has been a problem for years.
Guess what, it’s been a problem for 1 YEAR. Just last year, one West team won the SEC regular season title (LSU) and the SEC Tournament title (Miss St.). Clearly the West was a better division last year, why didn’t we just scrap the current system and start over then? Because in the long run, the current setup is the most fair way to determine the tournament champion. LEAVE IT ALONE. (I’m looking at you Hunter.)