Down in Destin at the SEC Spring Meetings, the emphasis to improve basketball is evident. The most important change is a new rule that will affect scheduling.
Every SEC team will be required to schedule nonconference opponents with three-year RPI average of 175 or better, commissioner Greg Sankey told reporters today, although there’s no indication when the new rule will be put into effect.
Forcing schools to exclusively play teams in the top 50% of college basketball will collectively improve the conference’s RPI ahead of the NCAA Tournament. Simply put, it will prevent schools from slacking off early in the season.
All of the teams currently slated to fill UK’s non-conference schedule in 2016-17 finished in the Top 175 of last year’s RPI. That same could not be said for South Carolina last season. The Gamecocks were 15-0 before taking their first loss of the season in conference play to Vandy. They failed to make the NCAA Tournament because non-conference wins over Oral Roberts, DePaul, Drexel, Lipscomb and Clemson weren’t impressive enough.
Sankey was frustrated that only three teams made the NCAA Tournament, holding higher expectations for the league. With former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese now in the fold, they hope to solve the problem with scheduling changes and through the new coaches in the conference. “The combination of our coaches is very much positive for the future of this conference,” Sankey said.