One of the best things about college basketball is the atmosphere at most games, especially big games that aren’t very common. There can certainly be great atmospheres for neutral site games, but nothing quite beats home crowds when teams from different conferences schedule home-and-home series.
Whether it’s two big schools and strong programs playing each other on both home courts or even smaller schools getting the chance to host bigger programs with a rare shot at a major upset on their home court, the atmospheres rarely disappoint in a home-and-home.
As non-conference schedules are starting to come together for SEC basketball teams, it seemed like a good time to fantasize about which home-and-home series I would like each team to schedule for next season or the coming years.
While next season might not be the best year for long-distance travel I still hope things return to “normal” eventually and some of these series are more realistic.
Also, before I begin, if you’d like to check out who already is scheduled for each SEC basketball team so far, I’ve been trying to keep track of all schedule announcements for the next few years on the resources page.
Alabama vs UAB
I’ve been pushing for Alabama to start up a home-and-home with the Blazers since Auburn re-started their series with them a few years ago. UAB hiring Andy Kennedy this off-season only makes me want this home-and-home even more.
Alabama has only played UAB once before, where the Blazers defeated the Crimson Tide 58-56 in a 1993 NIT game hosted in Tuscaloosa.
Arkansas vs UCLA
My logic for this one is that both programs are currently working to get back to their better days and both are doing so with two coaches entering their second year at each school. Cronin has quite a bit of experience on Musselman, but it would be nice to see whether Cronin’s slower pace, defensive-minded scheme or Musselman’s uptempo, high scoring system would prevail with both coaches still trying to fully implement their systems at new schools.
A home-and-home series would also be the first time the two teams have faced each other since UCLA prevented Arkansas from winning back to back titles by defeating them in the 1995 National Championship game.
Arkansas has only faced the Bruins three times: a National Title loss in 1995, a Reginal Semifinal win in 1978, and a road blowout in 1973.
Auburn vs Texas
This is a selfish pick as a recent Auburn grad that moved to Austin, TX, but I still believe it would be a fun match-up and I bet I’m not the only one that would like to see this home-and-home.
With Texas landing top ten prospect Greg Brown over Auburn recently, a series starting next year would be ideal, but that’s probably not likely since the Longhorns already have games with Gonzaga and Villanova booked for next season in a year where Shaka Smart’s job is on the line.
Auburn is 1-1 vs the Longhorns, but the two haven’t faced each other since 1955.
Florida vs Villanova
If we’re being honest, I just want any SEC team to schedule a home-and-home with Villanova. I also think both schools have a dominant recent history with Villanova’s run under Jay Wright being very similar to Florida’s run under Billy Donovan.
Both programs have two wins in the four games that they have played with the last game being a Florida victory to advance to the 2006 Final Four, where the Gators would eventually win their first of back-to-back National Championships.
Georgia vs Georgia State
This in-state series has some recent history, but the most recent game didn’t go in Georgia’s favor when Georgia State beat the Bulldogs by 24 in the Cayman Islands in 2018. Tom Crean should do the best he can to get a home-and-home series with the Panthers soon so that his squad has a chance to make up for the embarrassing loss in his first season in Athens.
Georgia and Georgia State have only faced each other eight times and Georgia holds a 5-3 advantage in the series. However, Georgia State has won three of the last four, including the only game played on the Panthers’ home court back in 2001. COVID-19 will likely cause a lot of teams to look for closer games over the next few seasons, so this is a prime example of a good series that won’t require much travel for either team.
Kentucky vs Indiana
I’m pretty sure John Calipari is allergic to scheduling home-and-home series, but if he’s going to schedule any, I think this would be the best one. The two programs have not been able to come to an agreement on another match-up since the last regular-season game between the two where Indiana knocked off top-ranked Kentucky with a buzzer-beating three in 2011.
I could probably come up with a pretty long list of home-and-home series I want to see involving Kentucky, but honestly, I’ll take anything other than the almost annual match-ups with other blue bloods on neutral courts.
LSU vs Tulane
LSU and Tulane played each other 202 times between 1911 and 1982 and then played another six games from 2002 to 2008. Only the two Mississippi schools in the SEC have faced LSU more times than Tulane thanks to playing them much more recently.
Reviving the Tulane series would bring back a long history and making it a home-and-home series would only provide better environments for both games. Tulane hasn’t had sustained success since the 1990s, but a chance to knock off the major state school in Fogelman Arena would surely pack a fun crowd.
Ole Miss vs Florida State
Ole Miss and Florida State have only faced each other twice back in 2003 and 2004. Florida State won both games by six points and five points respectively. I’m not sure Kermit Davis will have Ole Miss up to the level of Leonard Hamilton’s squad by next season, but a home-and-home series in the future could be a good opportunity for the Rebels to try and get their first win against the Noles.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say this wasn’t one of the match-ups that I didn’t just pull out of the air and try to justify. But two teams from the SEC and ACC meeting up is almost always going to make for a good series, and it doesn’t hurt that both schools are known for their “fun” student bodies. Student sections make home-and-home series what they are, and these two schools most likely would not disappoint.
Mississippi State vs NC State
I had to get more creative in my thinking for some of these match-ups, and this is certainly one of those. Under Kevin Keatts for NC State and Ben Howland for Mississippi State, both schools have shown promise and the ability to win 20+ games, but neither school has been able to find much success in the tournament or make a run at the top of their conference.
The home-and-home series with Auburn turned out fairly well, so I think Mississippi State could be the next team to follow up and make the trip to Raleigh.
It’s a bonus that the two programs have never faced each other on the basketball court.
Missouri vs Illinois
While Missouri and Illinois have been continued playing each other each year since 1983, the underrated rivalry moved to a neutral court in 2013. I’d love to see this series go back to a home-and-home series like all rivalries deserve to be.
Missouri has some of the best fans when there is something to get excited about, and while they still wait for Cuonzo Martin to get the program back to where it was previously, a home-and-home series with Illinois would be a very easy way to sell out Mizzou Arena once again.
South Carolina vs Kansas State
I think it’s finally time that Frank Martin makes a return to Manhattan, KS, and faces his former team. Martin departed Kansas State to take the South Carolina job in 2012 despite never losing less than 21 games with the Wildcats.
John Currie isn’t at Kansas State anymore, so that potential storyline isn’t a factor anymore, but the two programs have still only had one meeting all time. South Carolina beat Kansas State by two on a neutral court in 1989.
This is another potential Big 12/SEC Challenge match-up, but I’d like to see a true home-and-home scheduled.
Tennessee vs Michigan
I had to get some outside input for this one and the only (former) Vols fan I know, Thomas, suggested this match-up because of the last game between the two where Michigan defeated Tennessee in the 2014 Sweet 16. Previous NCAA Tournament games can often make for some interesting “mini-rivalries” for fan bases, especially in the eyes of the losing team (I don’t know many Auburn fans that think highly of Virginia anymore), but this would also be a fun match-up for other reasons.
Both programs met in the 2011 and 2014 NCAA Tournaments, but have not played a game on either team’s home court since Tennessee visited Ann Arbor in 1985. Both schools now have their basketball programs on the national stage and certainly have fan bases large enough and passionate enough to make a home-and-home series extra fun.
Texas A&M vs Ohio State
Texas A&M is the largest university in the United States with an enrollment over 69,000 students. Skipping over UCF, Ohio State is the third-largest university in the US with just over 61,000 students. The two programs have only faced each other two times, once in 1957 and again in 2007 where the teams met in Madison Square Garden.
With massive student enrollment comes massive alumni bases, so having these two schools schedule a home-and-home would likely be attractive for fans living near the opponents while giving each of the large student bodies a chance to show off their respective home environments and student sections.
Vanderbilt vs Harvard
Who doesn’t like watching smart kids go against even smarter kids in basketball? This one is pretty random, but the two programs have only faced each other twice all time and the most recent match-up was in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt is 2-0 all-time against the Crimson, but now might be the chance for Harvard to get their first win in the series before Jerry Stackhouse potentially gets Vanderbilt back to winning ways.
As a bonus, Harvard currently plays in the second oldest active venue while Memorial Gym has its history spanning more than 65 years.
I had a few of these match-ups in mind beforehand, which prompted me to write this, but once starting, it was harder to come up with some match-ups and it was fun to look into the head-to-head series between some of these programs to come up with home-and-home series to start or revive. With that said, I’d love to hear other suggestions for future home-and-home series involving SEC teams. Sometimes different fan bases already have a list of teams they’d love to face or locations they’d like to travel to. As with most things, feel free to reach out on Twitter and let me know if disagree (or agree) with the match-ups I came up with.