Thursday, May 14, 2015

Big 12/SEC Challenge Games Announced

SPOILER ALERT: Alabama isn't in it.

More on that in a second. First and foremost, it looks like the third time is the charm for this event as the match-ups, for the most part, make sense, and all of the games will be played on the same day (January 30th). In the past, this event was spread out all over days and, sometimes, weeks. Nice to have it on one day, which should be great exposure for the SEC as it seeks to improve the national perception of its basketball.

Regarding the exclusion of Alabama. This is pure speculation, but I have a feeling that Alabama opted out of the event this year. It's hard to believe with Avery Johnson's ESPN connections that Alabama wasn't considered for a game. Based on this news and some comments that Johnson recently made regarding scheduling, I'm beginning to think that the non-conference schedule next season, with the exception of the games in the Orlando Classic, is going to be of a lighter fare.

When asked about the schedule recently, Johnson said, "I don't know if we're ready to play the teams that are ranked first, second and third in the preseason whenever that comes out. But we have to have a competitive schedule but at the same time we have some buy-game situations that we're going to play some teams that we should have a lot of success against."

That doesn't sound like a guy eager to schedule heavyweights in his first season. And, you know what, I'm okay with that. Though the roster is far from complete, pending some recruiting moves, next year's team is going to be very young. As of right now, Retin Obasohan will be the only senior on the roster, and the next oldest group of guys (Shannon Hale, Jimmie Taylor and Mike Kessens) have flashed potential, but have yet to show they can be consistent performers. That leaves a group of freshmen and sophomores that will be counted on to step up and produce right away. That's not a team screaming out for a top 50 schedule strength, particularly when you consider that the SEC should continue its steady improvement next season. 

If the schedule is light on brand name teams, will students and fans still show up to support this new coaching staff and team? I have a feeling that we're going to see a new seating arrangement next season, which is fantastic.......if the people show up.

That's a discussion for later. For now, enjoy this list of games not involving Bama Hoops. Please post your predictions in the comments section. Can the SEC beat the Big 12 in the Challenge?

Kentucky at Kansas                          Iowa State at Texas A&M
Vanderbilt at Texas                            Oklahoma at LSU
Georgia at Baylor                              West Virginia at Florida
Tennessee at TCU                             Oklahoma State at Auburn
Ole Miss at Kansas State                   Texas Tech at Arkansas

Call me crazy, but I think the SEC has a very good chance to break even, if not win this challenge. The two key games, in my opinion, are Iowa State at A&M and Oklahoma at LSU. Iowa State and Oklahoma will be top 25 teams. LSU and A&M will have rosters capable of being top 25 teams, but the verdict is still out on their respective coaching staffs. If both of those teams are legit, they should be capable of winning two huge games for the conference on their home floor.  Lose one or both, and it could flip the advantage to the Big 12.


Georgia Hoops Blog said...

There are only 10 programs that can be a part of it and considering that UGA hadn't been a part of it before and Alabama's depth is going to be a bit more challenged this season, it is probably for the best. It should not be taken as a slight to the program. Some of these matchups are real clunkers like Texas Tech-Arkansas and Tennessee-TCU. When Mizzou gets better, they'll try to revive Mizzou-Iowa State and you'll see A&M and Texas Tech face each other again. Some of the old rivalries do have to come back.

finebammer said...

Florida doesn't seem to have a problem pitting their new coach against Huggie Bear.

i don't like it, but of the problems this program has right now, this one is miniscule.

but the fact remains, xCAG had a terrible record against top 25's. not scheduling them is not the answer.

Drifter said...

It's not the priority in a coach's first season with a new team.

DJC said...

I'm fine with an easier schedule this year. Frankly, I don't think we are going to be that good this season, so I would rather win some games and build some excitement, even if it hurts our RPI, as I don't see this as a tournament team anyway.

As for the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, I'll go with Kansas, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Iowa State, LSU, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas.

I'm not sure that I like playing it on January 30. Never been a big fan of non-conference games in the middle of the conference schedule.

Drifter said...

Bob Simon knows this kid.

Drifter said...

Bama basketball info seems to have entered a period of radio silence.

Msmilie said...

Usually the case this time of the year. These are the dark ages for college basketball geeks, with the exception of any recruiting news that seeps through the cracks. We probably won't even know the schedule for next season until the tail end of summer. It's a long, excruciating wait.