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Aaron Torres’ Take

Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 190: Devin Askew Decision Nears + CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish


We’ve got a great Aaron Torres Sports Podcast to get you into the weekend, as Aaron discusses all the comings and goings in college hoops and football, before welcoming CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish to the show. Here is the entire rundown of today’s show:

College Basketball News and Notes: Aaron opens the show by discussing a few major developments across college basketball, specifically, the Devin Askew commitment watch. Askew is set to commit on Thursday night. Aaron explains why he thinks Askew will choose Kentucky, reclassify to 2020 and what it means for the program. Also, how could it impact Cade Cunningham’s decision? Aaron then discusses the bizarre situation with N’Faly Dante at Oregon, before giving his Week 8 college football picks.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish Joins the Show to Discuss Memphis Hoops: There isn’t a more interesting topic in college hoops coming into the season than Memphis basketball, and Aaron welcomes on CBS Sports insider and Memphis native Gary Parrish to talk about the Tigers. Parrish discusses the excitement in the city over the Tigers, Penny Hardaway’s national championship prediction and how it all could go wrong. What is the floor and ceiling of this team? And also, what is both the good and bad impact, if the Tigers don’t have success this season? Finally, Parrish wraps up by talking some of the bigger topics in college hoops heading into the season.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


2019-2020 SEC Basketball Preview

© Vasha Hunt | USATSI

In life, there are times when two completely different things can both be true. Take SEC basketball for example. It will never have the history or get the media love of the ACC or Big 12 (for reasons, unknown to me). But there is also no debating that no conference has taken a larger leap onto the national scale than this league either.

As the old saying goes “it just means more.” And that’s certainly the case in SEC hoops.

The facts aren’t debatable.

Three years ago, this league sent three teams to the Elite Eight. In 2018, they sent a league record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament. Last year, it was seven NCAA Tournament teams, with four in the Sweet 16, two in the Elite Eight and one in the Final Four. Oh, and if things weren’t crazy enough, in a league where there were already seven coaches who’ve made a Final Four (SEVEN!!), Alabama (Nate Oats, Arkansas (Eric Musselman) and Texas A&M (Buzz Williams) all made major coaching upgrades this off-season.

So why do I bring that up? It’s because as the media descends upon Birmingham for SEC Media Day today, it’s clear that this league has never been stronger. And it has never been harder to figure out.

Below is my 2019-2020 SEC preview. But if I’m being perfectly honest, after speaking with coaches both across the league and the country, this might be the toughest conference in the country to figure out. After you get past the top three (Kentucky, Florida and LSU) there really isn’t all that much difference between any of these teams.

Therefore, don’t get mad if I have your team a spot or two lower than other media members. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the team picked to finish sixth this year could finish 11th, and the team picked to finish 11th could finish fourth or fifth. The SEC is insanely deep this year and all but impossible to predict.

Still, with SEC Media Day today, let’s do our best to make sense of these rankings:

1) Kentucky Wildcats

Key Returnees: Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, E.J. Montgomery, Nick Richards
Key Departures: PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro
Key Additions: Tyrese Maxey, Kalil Whitney, Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina (grad transfer)

I’ve written about Kentucky so much this off-season, that I’m just ready for things to tip-off and for there to be actual games to react to. But in case I haven’t made it abundantly clear in all my other preseason writing, I really like the makeup of this team.

I like that that for the first time in a long time, the Wildcats have veterans. I like that they have a chance to be elite defensively, with Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley at the top of the key. And I like that they could be John Calipari’s best three-point shooting team ever with Johnny Juzang, Nate Sestina, Quickley and Maxey.

Honestly, there is a lot to like here and not all that much weakness (maybe another big man, but I personally don’t think that’s as big a deal as others do). Because of it, I see no reason why the Wildcats won’t win their fourth SEC regular season title in the last six years.

2) Florida Gators

Key Returnees: Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson
Key Departures: KeyVaughn Allen, Kevarrius Hayes, Jalen Hudson, Keith Stone (transfer)
Key Additions: Scottie Lewis, Tre Mann, Omar Payne, Kerry Blackshear Jr. (grad transfer)

Listen, we all know the story here. The Gators’ backcourt was already loaded, and the one thing that they were missing – at least as of three months ago – was size down low. And Florida flipped that narrative when they got the best big man available on the grad transfer market, Kerry Blackshear, to come to Gainesville.

Now, when you add Blackshear to a team that already had a steady point guard (Andrew Nembhard), elite shooting with Noah Locke and a potential shutdown perimeter player in Scottie Lewis, you have a team that is not only capable of winning the SEC, but also winning the national championship.

Nembhard will have be more consistent than he was a year ago, but that’s really just being nitpicky if anything. The Gators are absolutely loaded headed into the season.

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Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 189: Georgia is Upset, College Football goes Crazy + Cade Cunningham Update


It was a busy weekend on the gridiron, as Aaron dedicates almost all of Monday’s Aaron Torres Pod to a WILD weekend in college football. Georgia choked and Aaron is gloating, LSU and Oklahoma show they might be “national title good” and poor Texas A&M isn’t even close to Bama. Aaron wraps the show by discussing a development in the recruitment of five-star Cade Cunningham, the No. 2 ranked player in high school basketball.

Here is a rundown of today’s show:

Georgia Chokes and College Football goes Crazy: Aaron takes a victory lap, as his arch nemesis Georgia choked away a game between the hedges against South Carolina. Aaron explains why they’re the “Enron of college football,” a fraud who built its entire reputation on close losses to Bama, and how this proves they’re actually no where close to Bama. Then Aaron talks about how LSU’s offense and Oklahoma’s defense prove that they might have what it takes to win the title, and why Texas A&M may be getting as little return on its investment as anyone in college football.

Cade Cunningham to Kentucky? Finally Aaron wraps with a development in the recruitment of Cade Cunningham, the No. 2 ranked player in high school basketball. With Evan Daniels’ Crystal Ball now showing that the Wildcats may land Cunningham Aaron explains what he’s hearing, what kind of player has and what impact Cunningham could have in Lexington next year. Could a Cunningham, Terrence Clarke, BJ Boston headlined recruiting class be on par with the Zion/RJ Barrett/Cam Reddish Duke class from a year ago? Aaron thinks so.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 188: ACC Basketball Media Day + Monster CFB Weekend Preview + College Hoops Mailbag

It’s Thursday and you know what that means: A new Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is LIVE! Aaron is joined by Nick Coffey to preview a big weekend in college football, and then Aaron wraps the show by talking about his preseason college hoops Top 25 and more. Here’s a rundown of today’s show:
ACC Basketball Media Day Madness: Nick Coffey joins Aaron after attending ACC Basketball Media Day. He shares his experience from the event, including his awkward run in with Tony Bennett, and they discuss the clear gap between the good and bad coaches in the conference.
A Mega-Weekend in College Football: Coffey and Torres touch on all of the HUGE games on this weekend’s college football slate, starting with Oklahoma-Texas. What’s wrong with Clemson, and why have they not bought into Florida? Also, should Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s struggles in the NFL impact Jalen Hurts’ Heisman chances? It sounds crazy, but Aaron explains why.
Aaron talks his college hoops preseason Top 25 + a college hoops mailbag: Finally, Aaron wraps by talking college hoops. He released his top 25 on Wednesday and explains why it will be a down year in the ACC and Big 12, but could be a big year for the Big East and the SEC. Also, he answers your mailbag questions: Who wins the battle of Cassius Winston vs. Ashton Hagans? And could Archie Miller be fired if Indiana doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 186: Fair Pay to Play + Kirk Herbstreit + College Hoops Mailbag

It’s a WILD episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron discusses California’s new Fair Pay to Play law, the unintended consequences that could come and how it started a Twitter beef with Richard Sherman. Then, iconic college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit joins the show to talk the college football season, and his work with Goodyear, the College Football Hall of Fame and their “Headed to the Hall” campaign. Aaron wraps up the show with a college hoops mailbag! Here is a rundown:

What the California Bill Means for the Future of College Athletics: Aaron takes a deep dive on the new California Fair Pay to Play law, which will allow athletes to benefit off their name and image. Aaron isn’t opposed to the bill, but says that there will be unintended consequences and hopes that the NCAA properly legislates endorsement opportunities for athletes. He also explains how he ended up in a Twitter beef with Richard Sherman over the bill on Wednesday.

Kirk Herbstreit joins the show: It’s a monumental moment on the Aaron Torres Pod, as iconic college football voice Kirk Herbstreit joins the show. They discuss what’s wrong with Bama, what makes Alabama so great every year, as well as the current national title race. Also, his role with Goodyear and the College Football Hall of Fame’s “Headed to the Hall” campaign.

College Hoops Mailbag. He discusses Penny Hardaway’s national title prediction, sleeper NBA Draft prospects and who you need to know in the Pac-12. More college hoops mailbags to come in the future!

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 185: Who’s No. 1 in College Football? + The NCAA Hammers Georgia Tech

It’s Monday and you already know what that means, a new episode of the Aaron Torres Podcast. With Clemson struggling on Saturday, Aaron asks: Who’s No. 1 in college football? He also discusses major sanctions coming down for Georgia Tech and what it means for the rest of college hoops. Here is a rundown of today’s show:

Who’s No. 1 in college football? Aaron breaks down a huge Saturday in college football. Clemson is ranked No. 1 but struggled, and Aaron wonders if they can make it through the schedule undefeated. Could they get left out of the playoff as a one-loss ACC champ? Is Ohio State the best team in college football after their dominating victory at Nebraska? And also, why was everyone so quick to ask if Nebraska is “back?” Finally, with so much hype on Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow, are we overlooking just how incredible Tua Tagovailoa?

Georgia Tech gets Hammered with NCAA Sanctions – what does it mean for Kansas? Aaron turns his attention to college basketball, where some surprising news came from the NCAA offices when Georgia Tech was hit with major sanctions. Aaron explains why yes, this is a big deal, but not for the reason you think. Could this be a sign that the NCAA is ready to come down on Kansas and everyone else who got caught up in the FBI investigation?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 184: Bill Self is in Big Trouble + Bob Stoops Joins the Show

You picked the right episode to listen to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron breaks down all the rules Kansas broke and explains just how much trouble they’re in. He’s also joined by legendary Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops. Highlights:

Kansas and Bill Self are in Big Trouble: On Monday, the NCAA sent Kansas it’s Notice of Allegations and Aaron thinks they are in big trouble. He explains why Bill Self was caught red-handed and that he really has no good way to defend himself. If the NCAA comes down on Self, what does it mean for his future? And what about the futures of Arizona, Louisville and Rick Pitino? Aaron concludes by talking about “tanking” in college football and gives his Week 5 picks.

Bob Stoops joins the show: Next Aaron next welcomes one of the most prominent guests to ever join the show, legendary Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. He shares what he first saw in Lincoln Riley and talks about the recruitments of Adrian Peterson and Baker Mayfiel. Also, what are his thoughts on the work his brother Mark is doing as the head coach at Kentucky? And will he ever coach college football again?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Simple Contacts. Order your contacts – and go to SimpleContacts.com/Torres or use “Torres” at checkout, to get $20 off your first purchase.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 183: Kansas Basketball’s NCAA Violations + Week 4 College Football

It’s a very special episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, as Aaron traveled all the way to Las Vegas to bring you this live show to talk all things college football, plus the impending NCAA basketball sanctions for Kansas basketball.

Here is a full rundown of today’s show:

A Wild Weekend in College Football: Aaron tells you why, if you went to bed before 2 a.m. ET on Saturday night/Sunday morning you already missed the game of the year in college football, and also, why Saturday proved Michigan will never reach elite status under Jim Harbaugh. Also, did Georgia blow their shot to prove to America they’re the best team in the country? And if so, who is the best team? Aaron’s answer might surprise you.

Trouble Looming for Kansas Basketball: Aaron wraps the show by talking impending NCAA sanctions for Kansas basketball. He explains why this news shouldn’t be a surprise, and how the Jayhawks have already admitted to at least one major violation. Also, why Bill Self has — to this point — proven to more knowledgeable of violations than either Sean Miller and Will Wade, and is there any chance at all that Self loses his job at Kansas over this mess?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


John Calipari Is Already Practicing What He Preached in Recruiting

It goes without saying that recruiting is always a big subject when it comes to Kentucky basketball, and even though it’s football season, it feels like not only has recruiting news not slowed down in recent weeks, but actually picked up.

Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware have committed (this after BJ Boston and Cam’Ron Fletcher committed over the summer). The school has decided to part ways with Top 15 prospects Jalen Green and Joshua Christopher because of fit and need. And the will he/won’t he Devin Askew reclassification rumors took a new twist, when Askew said this week that no, he won’t be reclassifying (something I’m still not sure that I 100 percent believe, by the way).

More than just the actual news itself however, the uptick in both recruiting news and action comes at an interesting time. It comes just a few weeks after Calipari had his preseason media “State of the Union” address, a press conference where he talked extensively about UK recruiting and philosophy.

You can read what Calipari said that day here, but what’s interesting to me is it seems as though we are already seeing Calipari put in motion what he said during that press conference. That he is already practicing what he preached that day.

With that, let’s look at some of the news from recent weeks, how it pertains to Kentucky’s recruiting success of late, and what it could mean for the future of this program, not just in the 2020 recruiting class, but well beyond.

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Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 182: Rick Pitino Settlement + Week 4 CFB + Former Pro Bowl WR Braylon Edwards

It’s an all new Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, and boy was it a doozy. Aaron welcomes Nick Coffey back onto the show to talk about the latest developments at Louisville before Torres takes a look at Week 4 of college football. He wraps with a wild interview with former Michigan Wolverine and New York Jet, Braylon Edwards, where Edwards holds nothing back!

Here is a recap of the day’s show:

College Hoops in the News: Aaron opens the show by welcoming in Nick Coffey to talk about all the big comings and goings in college hoops. The guys discuss the Louisville settlement with Rick Pitino, what’s next for Louisville and now that this is behind him, will Pitino ever coach again? Then the guys discuss this week’s news that Tony Bennett refused a raise from the University of Virginia, why it’s impossible to dislike Bennett, and just how lucky was Virginia to actually win the title last year? Then Aaron makes his Week 4 college football picks.

Former Michigan Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards: Next up Aaron is joined by Braylon Edwards, a former All-American at Michigan and Pro Bowler in the NFL. He discusses his time in Cleveland where he got in a bar fight with LeBron James’s friend, what it was like to play for Rex Ryan and why the Jets should have won the Super Bowl in 2010. Then he discusses the state of Michigan football heading into the weekend. What is holding them back and is Jim Harbaugh the guy to figure things out? This is one of the best interviews in the history of the podcast, as Edwards holds nothing back.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Nine Thoughts on John Calipari’s Season-Opening Comments

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

We have now reached mid-September, which means that with every single day that passes, we get a day closer to the start of college basketball season. At this point the season is so close, you can practically hear Jay Bilas complaining about the referees already!

And if there was any sign that we are in fact getting close to tip-off, it came this weekend, when John Calipari had his state of the union address with the media. He hit on a number of different topics that KSR has covered over the last couple days, ranging from this year’s team, to recruiting and his golf trip with Barack Obama.

Now, with Calipari’s preseason availability done for a few weeks, it’s time to reflect.

Here are nine thoughts on what Coach Cal said, and what it means for this season and beyond:

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Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 181: Week 3 College Football + Terrence Clarke Reaction

It’s a busy day on the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, as Aaron not only reacts to Week 3 of college football, but also shares his thoughts on high school superstar Terrence Clarke committing to Kentucky. What does it mean for the Wildcats and college basketball as a whole? Here is a rundown of today’s show:

Week 3 College Football Recap: Aaron gives the full rundown from this weekend in college football. He says that the top of the sport is starting to separate themselves — are Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma just as good as Alabama and Clemson? Also, he discusses the Florida-Kentucky game at length, why it is so disappointing for Kentucky, who dominated the game, and why he was a bit disappointed with the Wildcats’ coaching staff down the stretch who got conservative after taking the lead. Also, Urban Meyer made some interesting comments about his coaching future this weekend.

Terrence Clarke’s Commitment to Kentucky: Aaron concludes the show by discussing the commitment of one of the top high school players in America, Terrence Clarke, who will reclassify and play college basketball next year at the University of Kentucky. Aaron explains why he believes that Clarke has the look of a future NBA All-Star, and why, if there was doubt about John Calipari’s recruiting touch, it has officially been silenced once again. Also, what could be next in the Wildcats’ recruiting class?

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 180: Week 3 Picks, The Worst Second-Year Coach + Barstool’s Brandon Walker


College football is in full-swing. Get ready for Week 3 with a new edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. Aaron talks about all this weekend’s big games, a shake-up at USC and asks the question: Who is the worst second-year head coach in college football, Jeremy Pruitt, Willie Taggart, Chip Kelly or other? Before the show ends he is joined by Barstool’s Brandon Walker to talk more college football.

Here is a complete rundown of the day’s show:

A full look-ahead to Week 3 in college football: Aaron talks about all the big games in college football this week. He explains why Bama and Clemson roll and why Florida-Kentucky may be the most intriguing game on the docket. Then he ranks his worst second-year head coach: Did Jeremy Pruitt or Chip Kelly win? He talks about a major change at USC and gives his Week 3 college football picks.

Brandon Walker of Barstool Sports: Next up, Aaron is joined by Barstool Sports’ college football expert Brandon Walker. The guys discuss Brandon’s unique path to Barstool and what it’s like to work there. Also, why are his picks so hot and why is Jeremy Pruitt so bad? Also, Brandon goes off on one of the powers that be in college football.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or simply stream online through Spotify.  Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.


Reactions to the Entire SEC Basketball Schedule Release

© Vasha Hunt | USATSI

So, look, we all love football. Duh. That’s obvious. But the reality also remains that as we get deeper into September it also means we get closer to the start of college basketball season each and every day.

No one is complaining about that.

And if we needed proof of just how close things are getting, a big, final piece of the 2019-2020 college basketball puzzle came together on Tuesday, when the SEC released its full basketball schedule. Things tip off on January 4th (with what is a very juicy slate) and run all the way until mid-March with the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

And now that the schedule officially out, it seems like now is as good a time as any to get some quick reactions.

Below are some thoughts on the league schedule as a whole.

Also, before we get started, here is a look at how I have the SEC ranked headed into the preseason. As a baseline, I believe that – as things stand in mid-September – Kentucky, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee are in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. I also believe that Arkansas and Ole Miss will be around the bubble all year. On the flip side, I’m not as sold on Georgia as everyone else. South Carolina, Texas A&M, Missouri and Vandy will be competitive, but someone has to finish at the bottom of the league. And they seem like it.

With that as a baseline, here are some thoughts on the schedule:

SEC Hoops Starts off With a Bang!

Yes, SEC will always be football country. We all get that. But the league did an excellent job this year of setting up marquee matchups on the opening day of conference play, which should set the tone for the season ahead.

Auburn will play at Mississippi State, in a matchup of two teams that made the Big Dance last year and should feel good about getting back in 2020. Alabama is a sleeper in the conference with the return of Kira Lewis and John Petty, and opens at Florida, which might be the preseason favorite (I personally have Kentucky). And you want to talk about bad blood, how about this: Last season, LSU won the regular season SEC title, edging Tennessee down the stretch. Considering the, umm, circumstances with which LSU won it (you know, with LSU having a potentially higher payroll than the Brooklyn Nets) Vols fans weren’t happy.

So, how about the fact that LSU opens this season at Tennessee and Thompson-Boling Arena. Think Vols fans will be fired up?

Unfortunately for Kentucky fans, it’s a bit of a pedestrian start to the season, as they host Missouri, which should be improved, but not elite this season.

Kentucky’s Front-End of the Schedule is Manageable:

Kentucky is the SEC’s marquee program, and because of it, the league is never going to make it easy on the Wildcats. But the front part of their schedule is manageable. Of their first seven games, four are at home, with only Alabama looking like a formidable threat. And of the three road games, two are against a pair of teams that I’m just not sold on – Georgia and South Carolina. Half the national media will try to tell you how great Georgia is this season, but I just don’t buy it. The Dawgs were abjectly terrible last season, and Tom Crean isn’t the kind of coach who will get the most out of his young players. Especially early. The Wildcats should be comfortable favorites in that game.

Of the opening stretch, the two biggest challenges will be facing a good Alabama team at home, and Arkansas on the road. Bud Walton Arena is always buzzing, and you know that Eric Musselman will infuse some life into that program and arena by the time this game comes around.

Still, it seems like a worst-case scenario for Kentucky to open the SEC would be a 5-2 mark, and 6-1 seems likely. A 7-0 start is definitely in play.

On the flip side, the Back-End of Kentucky’s Schedule Is Brutal:

As easy as the front end of the schedule is, the back-end is equally as tough.

Kentucky’s final six games read like a “Who’s Who” of SEC powers: at LSU, Florida, at Texas A&M, Auburn, Tennessee and at Florida.

Realistically five of those six games will be against NCAA Tournament teams, and you’re talking about facing arguably the two best teams in the SEC not named “Kentucky” both on the road in LSU and Florida over those final six.

Plus, the one non-marquee opponent is Texas A&M, and it’s not like College Station is an easy spot to win. Kentucky lost to the Aggies in both 2016 and 2018 when they played Texas A&M on the road.

Wrapping on Kentucky, I Hate How the Two Best Teams Play Twice Late in the Season:

If I have one gripe with the SEC schedule makers, it’s that I hate, hate, HATE how they always manage to squeeze the matchups between the best teams into the final few weeks of the season. Last year, Kentucky played Tennessee twice after Valentines Day. This year they play Florida twice after February 22nd.

Look, I know it’s to build excitement and create hype, but guess what: These are the two best teams in the league, there will be hype whenever they play!

So the SEC schedule-makers, here’s some advice for next season: Put one game in late January and the other one to end the season. We shouldn’t have to wait until late February to see these two teams go against each other.

Glenn Beil | USA TODAY Sports

The Kerry Blackshear SEC Hate Tour Will Be Fun

Because players come and go so quickly, there isn’t enough genuine hatred between players and fan-bases anymore.

That should change this season however, with the arrival of Kerry Blackshear at Florida. Not to say that Blackshear himself is hate-able. But remember that before he committed to Florida, Blackshear took trips to Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. And at various points in the recruitment, there were rumors that Blackshear favored all three of those schools.

While that isn’t necessarily Blackshear’s fault (as much as the media who covers him) it doesn’t necessarily make him the most liked man across the SEC this season either.

Expect his trips to Lexington (February 22nd) and Knoxville (February 29th) to be two of the most hostile arenas anywhere in the SEC all season.

Speaking of Florida, the League Did Them Some Favors This Year

Last year Florida had a gauntlet of a schedule, as they were the only team that had to play LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky twice each. For those that don’t remember, those are the teams that finished 1-2-3 in the final SEC standings. All three also earned 3-seeds or better in the NCAA Tournament, and each advanced to the Sweet 16 or further. So yeah, the SEC did the Gators no favors last year.

But this year? Well, there are still home-and-homes with Kentucky and LSU, but there are some breaks as well. Specifically, they only play Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi State once each, four teams that look like early NCAA Tournament contenders. Of those four games, they get Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State all at home, without a return trip to the visiting arenas. They also don’t have to travel to Arkansas, which is one of the more brutal road environments in the SEC.

Kentucky appears to be the best team on paper to me, but Florida’s road to an SEC regular season title seems much more manageable.

The SEC Also Lightened Things Up on Tennessee

The Vols are another club which has an easier path through the SEC than in years past, with just one game against Florida, LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss (the Rebels are another quality team). Their only game against Florida and LSU – arguably two of the top three teams in the league are both at home.

However, I’d add that the Vols final five are no walk in the park either, when they play at Auburn, at Arkansas, Florida, at Kentucky and at Auburn.

So while the Vols do get a break to start, few teams will have a tougher finish than the Vols.

Speaking of a Tough Finishing Stretch, How About Auburn?

As you may remember, Auburn is the reigning SEC Tournament champs, the Auburn Tigers who of course advanced to their first Final Four in school history last year.

Apparently the SEC noticed, as they play a gauntlet of a schedule, that includes two games each against Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee, as well as Ole Miss, which should be in the mix for a tourney spot down the stretch. More importantly, their last five are BRUTAL, with the schedule looking like this: Tennessee, Ole Miss, at Kentucky, Texas A&M and at Tennessee.

Trips to Rupp and Thompson-Boling Arena in the final week-and-a-half of the season?

No one has a tougher final stretch than the Tigers.

The Wildest Schedule Quirk Comes Courtesy of Alabama

If Nate Oats was looking for a warm welcome to the SEC, the league offices did him no favors. Get this: Of Alabama’s first three SEC games, two of them are at Florida and at Kentucky. In an even stranger twist, that’s the only time Alabama will face either team.

That’s right: The Tide will be done with the two best teams in the league by the middle of January.

Not to say that the rest of Alabama’s schedule is easy – they play LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State twice apiece.

Bud Walton Will be Rocking

As mentioned up top, Bud Walton is always one of the toughest places to play in the SEC, and when you add in Eric Musselman – who is a walking, talking, ball of energy – the venue could be even better for bigger games.

Therefore, shout out to the SEC, which certainly gave Coach Muss no shortage of big ones in his first season in the SEC.

Among the teams who will visit Fayetteville include Kentucky (the only game Arkansas plays against them this season), Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Auburn and LSU.

Not a bad way to kick things off in Year 1 of the Musselman era, I must say.

Things aren’t so bad for LSU

Finally, let’s wrap with the Bad Boys of College Basketball (yes, that’s what we’re calling them from now on) the reigning SEC champs, the LSU Tigers.

Will Wade’s boys were given a tough, but not impossible schedule. They do play both Kentucky and Florida twice, but also get Tennessee, Mississippi State and Auburn once apiece.

SEC basketball just means more, folks.

And it will be here before you know it.