In 2016, for the third time in four years, the SEC had only three teams invited to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

When the NCAA Tournament gets underway in full force today there will be a record eight SEC teams in the 64-team field. And just about all of them are capable of winning two games and reaching the Sweet 16.

This was not a function of luck or happenstance but the result of a five-part plan that started as far back as 2012. Here are the five things the SEC did to fix men’s basketball:

 

1—HIRED MIKE TRANGHESE: In 1979 Tranghese joined with Dave Gavitt to build the Big East into one of the best college basketball conferences of all time. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey hired Tranghese as a consultant in 2016. His job was broadly defined: To advise the SEC on how to improve men’s basketball.

When Tranghese, who retired as Big East commissioner in the spring of 2009, accepted the SEC’s offer several of his friends called. Their reaction?

“They started laughing,” said Tranghese, speaking from his home in Providence, R.I. “They pooh-poohed the entire job.”

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