Now that the entire conference has released their 2011-12 schedules, I decided it was time to rank the schedules from best to worst. While I could simply look at the schedules and give a ranking based on gut feeling, I decided it would be more “fair” to create a scoring system. I put the details of the scoring at the bottom of the post, but the theory behind the scoring is fairly simple: Reward schools for playing tough opponents, and reward schools more for playing tough opponents in front of their home fans. In the end, the scores ranged from 11 points to 25 points with 1 exception…
#11 – Eastern Kentucky (5 Points, Average opponents RPI: 272)
This should shock absolutely no one. Not one single home game in November. Not one single top-100 RPI team from last season. This is a horrible schedule.
#10 – Jacksonville State (11 Points, Average opponents RPI: 248)
The one caveat is that I couldn’t find a list of teams in the St. Mary’s Tournament, but outside of that they do play 2 quality road games, but no home games against RPI top-250 teams from last year.
#9 – Eastern Illinois (11 Points, Average opponents RPI: 265)
Two good road games coupled with 3 potentially challenging road games gives EIU a solid slate…expect for that home-home with Maine.
#8 – SIU Edwardsville (12 Points, Average opponents RPI: 240)
There is really one reason the SIUe’s schedule is ranked number 8 and that’s the Cancun Challenge, which gives the Cougars 3 potentially challenging games. And a game at Illinois State.
#7 – Tennessee State (14 Points, Average opponents RPI: 215)
The lack of a solid home slate really keeps the Tigers low on this list. They do travel to Belmont and play North Carolina in Las Vegas, so quality competition isn’t lacking. Too bad most fans won’t see it.
#6 – SEMO (17 Points, Average opponents RPI: 234)
Their home schedule is one of the stronger home schedules in the OVC, including hosting Miami (OH). They also open the season by traveling to Missouri.
#5- Morehead State (18 Points, Average opponents RPI: 208)
This is really quite low for a team coming off such a strong season, but one of their biggest problems is that they play 3 non Division I teams. In fact, their entire home slate is quite lacking.
#4 – Tennessee Martin (19 Points, Average opponents RPI: 211)
A solid slate from top to bottom, albeit with a few holes. 2 solid home games (Ball State and IPFW) and 2 great road games (Louisville, UAB) push UTM up to 4th.
#3 – Murray State (21 Points, Average opponents RPI: 206)
Surprisingly, the Great Alaska Shootout actually hurt Murray’s average opponents RPI. (Not a great lineup) But a great December slate, highlighted by hosting Dayton and Lipscomb and traveling to Memphis push the Racers to 3rd.
#2 – Tennessee Tech (23 Points, Average opponents RPI: 197)
3 games that stand out: Hosting East Tennessee State, Lipscomb, and traveling to West Virginia. Las Vegas Classic could provide another great matchup. Let’s not forget…they travel to Miami.
#1 – Austin Peay (25 Points, Average opponents RPI: 145)
Even with that average RPI, if it wasn’t for a home – home with Belmont, this schedule would be largely forgettable. But what it lacks in big name matchups, it makes up for with solid competition across the board, and 0 non Division I opponents. They’re the only OVC squad without any non D-I opponents, much less the 2 that every other team has.
Schedule Difficulty (based upon last season’s RPI)
This is based simply on an average of last season’s RPI. I decided to give all non D-I squads a RPI of 400 for average purposes. I will give up to 10 points based on the average:
1-150: 10 points
150-175: 8 points
176-200: 6 points
201-220: 5 points
221-240: 4 points
241-260: 3 points
261-280: 2 points
281-300: 1 point
Quality Home Games (based upon last season’s RPI)
Every home game is worth up to 5 points based upon difficulty. This is simply to reward teams that bring quality opponents in front of their home crowd.
RPI of Home Game
1-100: 5 points
101-150: 4 points
151-175: 3 points
176-200: 2 point
Any D-I: 1 point
Higher than team’s own RPI from last year: 1 Bonus Point.
Quality Road / Neutral Games (based upon last season’s RPI)
I feels teams should get some credit for scheduling tough opponents regardless, but only up to 3 points available here, and only for truly challenging games.
RPI of Road / Neutral Game
1-25: 3 points
26-50: 2 points
51-100: 1 point.
So, this complicates things, being that we know the team’s schedule in some tournaments, and not others. For games we know I added it to the RPI average. For games we don’t, I did my best to determine the average RPI of possible opponents, and added that. If I couldn’t find a field of opponents, I didn’t count the tournament at all.
For ties, I found the best home game based upon last year’s RPI. The team with the best game won the tie breaker.