SEC approves new basketball schedule, tournament structure for 16-team expansion

Bennett Durando
Nashville Tennessean

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — SEC sports fans held their breath this week, anticipating a 16-team expansion schedule to be finalized and revealed at the league's spring meetings.

University presidents and chancellors did just that: for basketball.

While the future football template remains in limbo, the SEC has unveiled its plan for men's basketball scheduling once Oklahoma and Texas join the conference.

Teams will play home and away against two permanent opponents; home and away against one other opponent that rotates annually; and the remaining 12 opponents once per season, alternating between home and away.

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That amounts to 18 conference games, rather than the 20-game idea that has been floated and was discussed this week, according to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.

"Eighteen allows a pretty effective rotation," Sankey said. "A lot of comfort with that. The ability to have nonconference games scheduled, which we still believe are valuable."

The SEC Tournament will add two first-round games and continue to provide the top four seeds with a two-round bye to the quarterfinals.

Sankey said Wednesday that men's basketball coaches have asked about moving the conference championship game from Selection Sunday to the day before, but if that happens, it will not be a quick fix, according to the commissioner.

The women's basketball expansion model, however, isn't the same.

In a 16-game conference schedule, teams will play one rotating opponent home and away, then the other 14 teams once per season. The conference tournament format will be the same as the men.