Expansion made the Southeastern Conference stronger in 2012.
Maturation likely will make the league an even more dangerous place to navigate this season.
While league veteran University of Florida and newcomer Texas A&M University (ranked #9 and #12, respectively, in the NSCAA preseason poll), figure to lead the SEC, better health, solid recruiting classes, and another year to improve could make the league even deeper.
A year ago, the addition of Texas A&M and the University of Missouri from the Big 12 Conference helped push the SEC to 14 teams and the SEC tournament to a 10-team affair.
The Aggies and the Tigers didn’t disappoint in their inaugural seasons in the league, winning 19 and 14 games, respectively. A&M won the Western Division title, while Missouri finished fourth in the Eastern Division.
This season, programs that advanced to the SEC tournament — Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, and South Carolina — and ones that didn’t — Georgia, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State — all have things working for them that they believe can help them climb the ladder in the league and help the SEC send more than six teams to the NCAA tournament like it did last year.
“We just added quality depth,” said Florida coach Becky Burleigh, whose team won the Eastern Division, the SEC regular-season title, and the tournament title. “I don’t think the SEC goes about adding teams lightly. The reason they did was they thought Texas A&M and Missouri would bring something to our conference, and in soccer they certainly did. …
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