College Basketball: Unbalanced Scheduling Leads to Unfair Respect

    
February 9th, 2012
Unlike the NBA, college basketball schedules are not equitable. In non-conference play, wealthy schools can host as many home games as they'd like, while other schools can go on the road to raise cash. Schools can choose to play cupcakes or challenge themselves in stacked pre-season tournaments. Even in conference play, some leagues have unbalanced scheduling that can alter the final standings substantially. (Georgetown will never get a chance to avenge last night's overtime loss to Syracuse.)

 

The reality is that the top teams play mostly meaningless games. The real action (in fact, the only action) happens on the road. The Top 40 teams listed below have only won 36% of their road/neutral games against Top 50 teams, a 58-103 record. In fact, over half of all the losses accumulated by Top 40 team came in these few games. They went 674-93 in other games.

 

Syracuse & Kentucky, the top 2 teams in the AP Poll, haven't won a single game against a Top 50 team away from home. Perhaps what makes those 2 schools seem so dominant, is not that they are better, but because they are simply untested. Most schools fatten up on wins against teams ranked below 50th in the RPI and against away teams below 100th in the RPI. The Top 40 schools are a whopping 534-40 in these games, winning at a 93% clip.

 

It is easier to beat a Top 50 team at home as it is to beat a team ranked 51st-100th on the road. The Top 40 teams win 75% of their games against Top 50 teams, and 69% against 51-100 away from home.

 

Come NCAA Tournament time though, teams don't have the chance to feast on home wins. Only in the 1vs16 or 2vs15 games, can teams play against teams outside the Top 100. The Selection Committee probably does not focus enough on road vs home success in their bracketology decisions, which could lead to some teams being overseeded or underseeded. But you shouldn't fall into that trap. When the Tournament comes around, be sure to check out how teams have fared against quality teams on road or neutral courts. Ohio St & Florida have a whopping 2 combined wins against Top 100 teams away from home in 8 tries. Come tournament time, these numbers will certainly come into play. Perhaps we've found two teams primed for early round upsets?

 

  R/N R/N Home
RPI Team Overall Top 50 51-100 Top 50 Others
1 Syracuse 24-1 0-1 3-0 5-0 16-0
2 Duke 20-4 3-2 3-0 3-2 11-0
3 Kentucky 24-1 0-1 1-0 5-0 18-0
4 Kansas 19-5 2-4 2-0 5-0 10-1
5 Ohio St 21-3 1-3 0-0 5-0 15-0
6 Baylor 20-3 6-1 1-0 1-2 13-0
7 Michigan St 18-5 2-5 0-0 4-0 12-0
8 UNC 20-4 1-3 2-0 3-1 13-0
9 Missouri 22-2 5-1 3-0 1-0 13-1
10 Southern Miss 18-4 1-2 2-1 1-0 14-1
11 UNLV 19-4 2-3 0-1 3-0 14-0
12 Marquette 20-5 1-3 3-1 2-1 14-0
13 Georgetown 17-5 3-3 0-1 3-0 10-1
14 Florida   19-5 0-3 1-0 3-0 15-2
15 Michigan 17-7 1-5 1-1 6-0 9-1
16 Indiana 18-6 1-4 2-0 3-1 12-1
17 Memphis 17-7 1-5 0-1 1-1 15-0
18 Wichita St 20-4 0-2 3-0 1-1 16-1
19 Temple 18-5 3-0 0-2 0-0 15-3
20 San Diego St 18-3 1-2 2-0 3-1 12-0
21 Creighton 21-4 2-0 1-2 1-0 17-2
22 St. Mary's 20-2 1-1 1-1 2-0 16-0
23 Louisville 19-5 1-2 1-0 4-2 13-1
24 UCONN 15-8 2-3 1-1 3-1 8-3
25 Gonzaga 18-4 2-3 1-0 2-1 13-0
26 Colorado St 14-7 0-3 0-3 1-1 13-0
27 Vanderbilt 17-7 2-2 1-1 1-1 13-3
28 Saint Louis 18-5 0-1 4-2 0-1 14-1
29 Wisconsin 18-6 2-2 1-0 3-3 12-1
30 Alabama 16-7 1-3 2-1 0-2 13-1
31 Florida St 16-7 1-4 2-0 2-0 11-3
32 Seton Hall 16-8 1-4 3-2 2-2 10-0
33 West Virginia 16-9 1-5 2-0 3-1 10-3
34 Mississippi St 18-5 1-2 1-2 2-0 14-1
35 Long Beach St 15-6 0-5 2-0 0-0 13-1
36 Miami 14-7 1-3 0-2 0-1 13-1
37 Northwestern 14-8 2-5 1-0 1-2 10-1
38 Murray St 20-0 2-0 0-0 0-0 18-0
39 Harvard 19-2 1-1 1-0 0-0 17-1
40 MTSU 20-4 0-1 1-1 0-0 19-3
  58-103 55-25 85-28 534-40
  Winning % =   0.36 0.69 0.75 0.93

 

I'll update these numbers occasionally as Selection Sunday rolls around. Post comments below or send a note to @collegehoopsnet on twitter.