Commish to SEC coaches: Toughen up schedules

DESTIN, Fla. (AP) - Southeastern Conference men's basketball teams were nearly absent from the NCAA tournament and commissioner Mike Slive wants to see tougher non-conference schedules - and soon.

"November and December isn't exhibition season," Slive said at the SEC's annual business meetings in Destin.

The SEC had at least six teams in the NCAA tournament in 8 of the last 10 years. Seven teams won at least 21 games in 2008-09 but just three made the NCAA tournament. Two lost in the first round followed by the other in the second.

Slive recently ended his term as chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee where he got an up-close look at the decision-making and how important the entire season is to a postseason berth.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said the SEC has endured "the perfect storm" with new coaches in the last few years combined with a lot of youth last season.

The weak nonconference schedule cannot be overlooked.

According to RPI expert Jerry Palm, 55.3% of the SEC's non-conference wins this past season (68 of 123) came against teams with an RPI of 201 or worse.

The lone standout was Tennessee with the third toughest schedule in the nation, according to Palm. The Vols were seeded No. 9 after a loss in the SEC tournament finals to Mississippi State.

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