The Southeastern Conference office released the official conference schedule for the 2012-13 basketball season on Friday.
For the second consecutive year, SEC officials didn’t do the Mississippi State Bulldogs any favors.
Last season, Mississippi State played more short turnaround games (Thursday–Saturday) than anyone in the league, and this season, the Bulldogs find themselves as the only team in the league not to play on ESPN.
Despite not having a key tool in recruiting, a game on ESPN, Ray has opted to make lemonade with the lemon of a schedule he’s been given.
“The big positive is that we play all of our SEC games on Wednesday and Saturday so it sets our players up for a great routine during the season, very similar to a football schedule,” Ray said.
The 18-game slate for MSU will get started on Jan. 9 against South Carolina, the first of three contests to be broadcast online with ESPN3.
The new format this season will have each team face one permanent rival twice and four additional rotating opponents twice with the remaining eight league foes once.
State has Ole Miss as its consistent rival with Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Alabama as its rotating opponents.
“I am excited that the SEC chose to preserve our natural rivalry with Ole Miss when putting together this schedule,” Ray said. “Our schedule seems balanced and challenging, but if you are in a BCS conference, there is no such thing as a favorable schedule.”
Following the SEC opener, the Bulldogs are on the road at Georgia Jan. 12 (SEC Network) before returning to Humphrey Coliseum on Jan. 16 against long-time rival Alabama (CSS). Then it’s back on the road for two-consecutive outings at Tennessee (SEC Network) on Jan. 19 and at Arkansas on Jan. 23 (CSS).
On Jan. 26, Florida invades Starkville in a game televised on ESPN2.
February play begins with LSU on Feb. 2 (FSN), while Ray gets his first taste of the Ole Miss rivalry in Oxford on Feb. 6 (CSS). On Feb. 9, MSU makes a return trip to Florida (FSN) before returning home to face the league’s other newcomer in Missouri on Feb. 13 (SEC Network). It’s back on the road for the Bulldogs at LSU (ESPNU) and Alabama (SEC Network) on Feb. 16 and 20, respectively.
On Feb. 23, MSU welcomes Vanderbilt (SEC Network) to Humphrey Coliseum before traveling to defending national champion Kentucky (SEC Network) on Feb. 27.
In addition to the game at South Carolina, the month of March features home games with the Rebels (FSN) on March 2 and the regular-season finale with Auburn (FSN) on the March 9.
The SEC Tournament is slated for March 13-17 in Nashville, Tenn.