Well, Florida is putting the hurt on UCLA, so I figured I’d bang out another one of these. For guidelines, see the previous post. Remember, Big East teams have 5 non-conference games because they only have 7 league games.
The Big East:
- Syracuse (3 legitimate, 0 DI-AA): Washington, @Iowa, Illinois, @Miami (OH), Buffalo. 3 games against BCS conference teams. Pretty decent schedule, but considering how terrible the ‘Cuse has been recently they may be the ones getting scheduled as a “patsy team from a major conference”.
- Pittsburgh (2, 1): Eastern Michigan, Grambling State, @Michigan State, @Virginia, Navy. The fact this is one of the better Big East schedules is sad. Away games at BCS schools is key, and Navy isn’t terrible.
- Louisville (2, 1): Murray State, MTSU, @Kentucky, @NC State, Utah. Almost 3 legit games, depends on how much weight you give Utah and Kentucky. Helps Kentucky is a rivalry game.
- South Florida (1,1): Elon, @Auburn, UNC, @FAU, UCF. @FAU? The hell? @Auburn is good, and UNC is okay.
- Rutgers (1,1): Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State, Maryland, @Army. Maryland and Navy are decently selections, not sure if they count as 2 legits.
VirginaVirginia (1, 0): Western Michigan, @Marshall, @Maryland, Mississippi State, East Carolina. Maryland is by far the best team on this schedule. On the road for the rivalry game against Marshall. Miss State may be the 4th worst team on this schedule.
- Connecticut (1,1): @Duke, Maine, Temple, Akron, @Virginia. Duke is technically a BCS conference team. Only legit team is Virginia. Barely.
- Cincinnati (1,1): SE Missouri State, Oregon State, @Miami (OH), Marshall, San Diego State. What a horrible schedule.
Nothing impressive as a group here. Next up, we’ll take a look at the Eleven Who Call Themselves Ten.
I’ve been working on this for a few days and unfortunately the time I finally have time to post it is when I’m suffering from some horrendous attack of allergies and/or a cold. I’ll try anyway, but I won’t make any guarantees about whether or not the following will make any sense at all.
Since the NCAA made the 12th game permanent, there’s been various debate over the best use of the 12th game. For most teams, it’s a 4th non-conference games. While ideally this is used to play an inter-sectional game (see: Cal and Tennessee) this is normally used to just get away with scheduling a DI-AA team every year. Due to the Big East being gutted by the ACC, they were able to add a 5th non-conference game, but only Syracuse has anything interesting going on. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Pac-10, who used the 12th game to create a full-round robin in their league. In fact, the Pac-10 by far has the highest percentage of teams without a I-AA team on their schedule this year (Arizona will play Northern Arizona).
So for this preview I took a conference-by-conference look at at the “BCS” conferences and ranked teams out-of-conference schedules on the completely subjective criteria of what I consider “legitimate” non-conference teams. Being completely subjective, it’s hard to say what’s a legit team and what’s not, but hopefully there’s some semblance of a pattern.
So, without further adieu, here’s the Atlantic Coast Conference:
- Florida State (3 legit teams, 0 DI-AA): UAB, @Colorado, Alabama, and @Florida. Probably the best non-conference slate in all of college football this year. The game against ‘Bama is at Jacksonville as well, and they play an away game against a BCS team (even if it Colorado). UAB isn’t a total patsy either, but I wasn’t sure whether to consider them “legit” for FSU.
- Miami (FL) (2, 0): Marshall, @Oklahoma, Florida International (HELL 2 DA NAW), Texas A&M. Pretty legit schedule, even if FIU is barely a DI-A team. @OU helps a lot.
- Georgia Tech (2, 1): @Notre Dame, Samford, Army, Georgia. @Notre Dame is the main thing here – Army and Samford won’t strike fear into anyone. Rivalry game against Georgia is huge. But you heard it here first: Tech will beat the Bulldogs this year.
- Duke (4, 0): UConn, @Northwestern, @Navy, @Notre Dame. 3 road games. Legit because it’s entirely likely they’re going to lose to all these teams.
- Maryland (2, 1): Villanova, @Florida International, West
Virgina Virginia, @Rutgers. Play 2 of the better Big East teams, wait, hold on – to Florida International? What the heck?
- Wake Forest (2, 0): Nebraska, Army, @Navy, @Vanderbilt. No DI-AA’s is nice, as is the game against Nebraska. Navy and Vandy combine to form a legit non-conference game, even if it is 3/4 Navy and 1/4 Vandy.
- Virginia Tech (1,1): East Carolina, @LSU, Ohio, William & Mary. ECU should apply for honorary membership to the ACC this year (along with Notre Dame). The only thing that makes this schedule stand out is the game @LSU – see what I said above about inter-sectional games. It gets a lot worse from here.
- Boston College (1, 1): Army, UMass, Bowling Green, @Notre Dame. Amazingly, BC starts the year with three straight conference games. @ND is the only saving grace of the non-conference slate, though.
- North Carolina (1, 1): James Madison, @East Carolina, @South Florida, South Carolina. Nice series against South Carolina coming up, but @ECU and @USF? How did that happen?
- NC State (1,1): Central Florida, Wofford, Louisville, @East Carolina. @ECU again? Saving grace is Louisville.
- Virginia (1, 0): @Wyoming, Pittsburgh, @Middle Tennessee State, UConn. Could perhaps be 2 legit teams, but this schedule is burdened by the fact they ended up going to both Wyoming and MTSU. Really, any of these last few teams could lay claim to the ACC’s worst non-conference schedule.
- Clemson (1, 1): UL-Monroe, Furman, Central Michigan, @South Carolina. Absolutely pathetic schedule for this caliber of team.
In no particular order:
- So how about that Thad Young? On his way to a career high 25 points against UNC on Thursday, he hit 10-18 from the field and 5-6 from beyond the arc. He decided to grab some rebounds (2 offensive, 4 defensive) and two steals while he was it. Easily his most dominant performance of the year, it’s something of a double-edged sword – if he keeps playing like that, it’s increasingly likely that he’ll be one-and-done (although in my opinion this was likely even when he wasn’t do so well).
- Speaking of dominant performances, as a team this was easily Tech’s best of the year. Good things tend to happen when you’re shooing over 60% from the field in the first half, of course. Tech shot 10-22 from beyond the arc, which Anthony Morrow rediscovering the stroke in the first half that led him to lead the ACC in 3-point percentage last year. (He ended up 4 of 10, though, but still had a season high 18 points). Perhaps more importantly, Javaris Crittenton had a season high 11-assists and low (for him) 5 turnovers. 3 guys had 6 rebounds each, and Ra’sean Dickey actually acted like a center for most of the game.
- Tech has probably done enough to get into the tournament, but I think everyone would feel better if they beat Boston College today. Winning on Thursday in the ACC tournament would help as well.
- Thanks to unbalanced schedules and the fact no one can win on the road, mad crazy tiebreakers are coming into effect for the ACC Tournament. Tech, with a victory against Boston College, will be a 6 seed if Duke loses to UNC on Sunday. If Tech loses, they’ll end up at 7-9. It’s easy if Clemson loses @Virginia Tech – Tech would be tied with FSU at 7-9, and Tech’s season sweep of FSU would give them the 7 seed. If Clemson wins, it gets complicated and I don’t remember who wins. The top of the ACC is even more confusing since Virginia managed to lose to Wake Forest yesterday. It’s possible for Virginia, UNC, VT, and Boston College to end up at 11-5. They all get byes, sure, but still. Even if BC loses, (and since they’re playing, I hope they do) they’ll still not have to play on Thursday due to a victory over 10-6 Maryland.
- Speaking of unbalanced schedules, I’m glad that Virginia Tech and Boston College are competing in the ACC. I really am. But I still think back to the salad days of my youth (read: my freshman year 4 years ago) when the ACC had a full round-robin schedule. You have a pretty good idea where you stand after playing everyone twice, and it was one of the things that made ACC basketball really special. Of course, the ACC is still the best conference, but yeah.
- What on Earth happened to Conference USA? They had pretty much established themselves as a multi-bid league even after Louisville and Cincinnati left, but Memphis has a ridiculous 5 game lead.
- On Mid-Majors: it appears the only multi-bid mid-major leagues this year will be the A10 (which, at 14 teams, is a much more egregious violation of good naming than the Big Ten), MVC (though only 2 this time, since Missouri St. and Bradly failed to knock off Southern Illinois and Creighton), and probably the Mountain West. In other words, it’s a good year to be a middling major conference team.
- Speaking of the Missouri Valley, why on Earth do they have their own TV station? Several of those games have had margins of less than 7, and they have an absolutely packed house of 16,000 in St. Louis in what is probably the most well-attended mid-major tournament. But thanks to their TV channel, I’ve only been able to see the highlights. Not even the title game will be on ESPN. C’mon guys, let the rest of us see what’s up with MVC basketball and perhaps people will understand it better.
- On the ACC bubble situation: I think FSU and Clemson are pretty screwed unless they make some noise in the ACC Tournament. Hopefully that won’t be at our expense.
- One last thing: being on the west coast and having a job is going to really hamper my enjoyment of the first 3 rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Thank goodness for March Madness On Demand, which will hopefully not get me fired. Sign up soon to make sure you have access to the “VIP” queue when waiting for games.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. It’s nice to be doing this again. Hopefully I’ll have something positive to post about after the game (3:00 EST, FSN).