The Southeastern Conference made a concerted effort three years ago to improve the quality of basketball in a league known for football — and it has paid off.

With Auburn off to the Final Four after beating Kentucky in overtime on Sunday, the SEC earned at least $32.1 million through the NCAA’s system for paying conferences based on how their teams perform in the men’s basketball tournament. It’s the highest share for the SEC at 19 units, the term the NCAA uses for the bids and wins that qualify for payment, all the way through the Elite Eight.

The SEC’s best showing was good for third place among conferences this year, behind the Big Ten (21 units for at least $35.5 million) and the Atlantic

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