It Just Means More. That what the SEC slogan claims and it many ways it is true. The phrase earned some scorn from other parts of the country, and the conference tried to take on a new slogan but the idea resonated with many throughout the footprint.
For many, it refers to the conference’s football teams and their success and passion. And that’s true. I will never debate the fact that football is king, and Saturday in the South will be special as long as the game continues to be played. Football is engrained in the fabric of the landscape and basketball can not change that.
But at the same time, the SEC has quietly become a major player in the national basketball landscape with an influx of great coaches and rising teams. Kentucky has long been a perennial contender but now there many teams in the conference demanding to be taken novice of by the entire country.
Joining the Wildcats are both Auburn and Tennessee. The Tigers are two seasons removed from a Final Four appearance, and the Vols came close to joining them there as well. Elsewhere LSU has established themselves as a power and Florida has actual National Championships to boast. Even Missouri looks to be on the rise.
As a whole, the SEC continues be among those with the most bids to the Big Dance. In both 2018 and 2019, they had the second most bids always within one of the ACC, the supposed gold standard when it comes to college basketball.
On the women’s side it’s much the same. The country’s foremost power is situation in the South Carolina and some the Gamecock biggest dangers to their dominance are Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
Kentucky and Arkansas have similarly strong teams that will likely contend for the conference crown. Not to be forgotten, the Lady Vols look to be on a positive trajectory with second-year head coach Kellie Harper looking to build upon the progress she made in her first season in Knoxville.
Again, when looking at NCAA bids in 2018 and 2019, the SEC finished second both years with one team less than the mighty ACC.
While for both the men and women, the ACC is still the top league when it comes to college basketball, but in the last couple years, the SEC has been gaining ground and appears to be nipping at the heels of their rival league on the Atlantic coast.
I want to make it clear that I’m not claiming football is now second in the SEC. I’m simply saying that the SEC should be considered a legitimate basketball conference will arguably as one of the top two or three conference in college basketball when this season tips off on Rocky Top and the other 13 campuses.