For SEC West, divisions not a cure-all
Here's the thing about the SEC abandoning its divisional alignment in men's basketball: The presence of divisions isn't the reason for the league's decline in potential NCAA tournament teams. The reason is bad basketball, followed closely -- especially in the SEC West -- by bad scheduling.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of a group of power conference teams more consistently dreadful in terms of scheduling than the SEC West. Last year's nonleague schedule rankings weren't anomalies: Auburn Tigers (No. 339), Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 284), LSU Tigers (No. 235), Arkansas Razorbacks (No. 217), Mississippi State Bulldogs (No. 154), Mississippi Rebels (No. 101). No wonder the Crimson Tide, in particular, never made it off the bubble (despite playing very well down the stretch).
For Joe Lunardi's full take on the scheduling issues facing the SEC West, and what it will take for those six teams to become a relevant part of the NCAA tournament discussion, become an ESPN Insider today.