Out-of-Conference Strength of Schedule

One of the sites that I use extensively during basketball season is kenpom.com. Ken Pomeroy calculates the RPI for every Div 1 basketball team and displays the information on his website. He updates the page daily throughout the basketball season and provides a lot of other interesting stats as well…such as breaking down where each team’s wins came from (top 50, top 100, etc), Strength of Schedule (SOS), Out of Conference SOS, as well as providing a summary of each team’s schedule and the results of each game. Ken also has the RPI data displayed back through the 1999 season.

Ken states that his main purpose is to provide something useful. He accomplishes this goal with a ton of room to spare. I just can’t do justice to how much useful information that Ken has available…you will just have to check it out for yourself. If you are a college basketball junky, but are not into crunching numbers, then Ken’s blog is the place for you. I have so many things to say based on the information that Ken provides, that I will have to break it up into several entries. Let’s start with the OOC strength of schedule information from 1999 thru last season.

I compiled this information from Ken’s site and any mistakes in the translation are mine. Any such mistakes were unintentional and if you find one, please post it in the comments section. I don’t intend to compile this stuff from scratch again, so I want it to be correct.

OOC SOS is often a hot topic when the schedules are released and at the start of the season. I find these discussions a little silly, because it is somewhere between hard and impossible to judge the SOS when no one has played. However using the data compiled by Ken, it is easy to look back and see what has happened in the recent past:

School 1999.. 2000.. 2001.. 2002.. 2003.. 2004.. 2005
Boston College 284 142 116 176 51 65 88
Clemson 272 200 301 288 293 53 155
Duke 15 33 17 59 108 24 46
Florida State 21 98 178 227 163 179 98
Georgia Tech 114 204 85 109 142 106 137
Maryland 51 15 115 15 189 43 125
Miami 47 169 203 225 261 317 142
NC State 249 239 126 207 238 82 259
North Carolina 30 17 42 34 46 29 54
Virginia 198 252 210 133 147 257 59
Virginia Tech 287 209 307 304 260 304 312
Wake Forest 202 47 74 24 123 87 27

The good news is that State doesn’t have the worst OOC schedule in the conference over the last seven seasons. In the nine-team conference, Clemson’s is usually worse. And in the 11/12-team conference, Clemson and Virginia Tech rank behind State’s. NC State has only had two seasons where the OOC schedule ranked in the top-200 and only one in the top-100. That’s pretty bad no matter how you spin it.

On one hand, the OOC schedule didn’t really matter. State made the NCAA tournament the last four years, so the schedule didn’t hurt, even if it didn’t help. In the previous years, State was not even on the NCAA bubble, so the schedule didn’t affect anything then either.

There are a number of different situations where a weak OOC schedule would affect a team’s chances of making the NCAA tournament, but State hasn’t had one of those years yet. (UVa had one several seasons ago and VT’s weak schedule certainly hurt them last year.) The real problem for State fans would probably have to be the season-ticket holders that are paying good money to watch State consistently play one of the worst OOC schedules in the country.

We all know how much Lee Fowler enjoys hearing himself talk. Maybe someone in the main-stream media will take the opportunity sometime to ask him about NC State’s record of misearable OOC schedules. If he drags out the well-worn excuses about balancing budgets or the difficulty in scheduling respectable programs, then maybe someone could ask how Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, and even Florida State have managed to consistently play a tougher OOC schedule than NC State while still balancing the athletic department budget. A truthful and complete answer would be most interesting.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

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30 Responses to Out-of-Conference Strength of Schedule

  1. Class of '74 12/09/2005 at 6:13 AM #

    First of all great info! Now let me get this straight, we haven’t competed with our closest neighbors in recent times by either number of wins or finishes in the big dance and we play a much weaker OOC. Could there be a correlation here?

  2. Class of '74 12/09/2005 at 6:56 AM #

    Why do athletes lift weights? Do you improve your strength and conditioning by lifting 5lb. dumbells or 50lb. ones?
    Whenever you shy from competition it is detrimental to your growth. I heard Mike Decourcy (basketball national writer) interviewed and he mentioned why Gonzaga always stumbles in March inspite of having good talent. Mike said it was due to the fact the level of competition they see day in and day out is weak and they never learn how to stop good teams in the NCAA’s.
    Althought the ACC is yearly about as tough a road as anyone travels it is always good to test yourself with OOC. Just like the old Dixie Classics did in years gone by.

  3. VaWolf82 12/09/2005 at 8:22 AM #

    we haven’t competed with our closest neighbors in recent times… and we play a much weaker OOC. Could there be a correlation here?

    You can (and have) made a case for drawing this conclusion. However, I don’t think that is not exactly as straight forward as that. Consider the miserable OOC performances State has had over the last four years….Temple, UMass, St Johns, etc. It’s not obvious to me that losing to Kansas, UConn, Texas, Arizona, etc would have “improved” State’s performances in the Big Dance any more than those horrible losses did.

    State has basically been a middle-level ACC team over the last four years. I think that more than just the scheduling needs to improve before State can move up in the ACC.

  4. VaWolf82 12/09/2005 at 8:25 AM #

    Fat fingers this morning…Replace the sentence that doesn’t make sense with:

    However, I don’t think that it is exactly as straignt forward as that.

    We need to find an edit button bad.

  5. choppack 12/09/2005 at 8:32 AM #

    VaWolf – is that our OOC thus far or overall this year?

  6. Rick 12/09/2005 at 8:56 AM #

    Great info.
    Our OOC is set up to get us into the NCAA not to prepare us to do well. A good OOC schedule gives you valuable experience against teams that you are not familiar with.
    Our OOC has done what I believe it was intended to do.

  7. VaWolf82 12/09/2005 at 9:12 AM #

    It was last year’s SOS. SOS changes constantly throughout the season, so I concentrated only on settled facts.

  8. BJD95 12/09/2005 at 9:16 AM #

    Maybe the OOC schedule hasn’t hurt us yet, but I don’t think a few extra decent games (even with an extra loss thrown) would hurt us either, and it would get the fans more interested in basketball. Of course, Lee Fowler (judging by the steady erosion of our football schedule beyond commitments made prior to his hiring) doesn’t see any reason to build “shareholder value” for LTR holders, so it’s pretty much a moot point as long as he is in charge.

  9. BJD95 12/09/2005 at 9:16 AM #

    Oh, and now that VaWolf has scorned the MSM, he can now officially consider himself a full-fledged blogger!

  10. Jeff 12/09/2005 at 9:43 AM #

    I don’t posit to conclude that playing a tougher schedule would help our team during the year. I’ve seen enough of our record against good teams to conclude that the more good teams that we play, the more that we will continue to revert to our horrible winning percentage against them.

    I just wish that our program valued its fans and LTRs enough to provide them a home OOC that was worth a damn and created some shareholder value for the seemingly valueless LTRs.

  11. Class of '74 12/09/2005 at 10:37 AM #

    I firmly believe the stronger schedule is a win-win situation for everyone. The competition gins up fans interest, makes our team stronger in the long run. It should go a long way in determining whether Herb is the right guy. I can’t believe we still have to debate that one but it still seems to be a 50/50 or 60/40 proposition.

  12. Rick 12/09/2005 at 10:58 AM #

    Jeff you may be right.
    I am making the assumption that our “slow progresss” would allow us to win some of these games or at least not lose to the really bad teams. I am also assuming we would improve throughout the year by playing these harder teams.
    Granted I am making assumptions and have little actual data to back that up.

  13. SaccoV 12/09/2005 at 2:35 PM #

    I’m sold personally on the idea that having a tough out-of-conference schedule will improve both in-conference and tournament play. Unfortunately, the coaching staff (or scheduling staff) has decided to fill our slate with mediocre competition year after year. This year’s schedule is definitely better, but the benefits of just ONE other top-10 or top-15 team at this point would definitely put us in a better position by the season’s end.

  14. scott 12/09/2005 at 3:42 PM #

    I’d like to see NCSU schedule Texas, so we could get a first hand look at how good (or at least exciting) we might be if Rick B. was coaching here against Roy & Coach K. Doesn’t hurt to fantasize, does it? Then again, when brought back to reality w/Herb, maybe it does.

  15. choppack 12/09/2005 at 5:05 PM #

    Duh – VaWolf – my bad, poor data analysis on my part. Last year in b’ball was 2005.

    You know, I’m not certain this scheduling thing doesn’t fall in one man’s lap right now. Seems to me we can’t bag any big fish in b’ball or football. I’d at least like an explanation as to why.

  16. blpack 12/09/2005 at 10:45 PM #

    I was looking at that SOS and wondering how we can lose the number of games we do and then I remembered we don’t win many ACC games either. We need more teams like GW on the schedule and less teams like Stetson. How about George Mason? Georgetown? (wake me up the last 5 minutes.) How did Gonzaga get to be so good and we’re… well you know? It’s getting late. Let’s start a rivalry with App State.

  17. packbackers 12/10/2005 at 10:26 PM #

    Scott, looks like Rick Barnes got his butt handed to him by Duke on a neutral court. Did Texas even make the big dance last year? If so, they lost in the first round. Please Rick, stay at Texas.

  18. scott 12/11/2005 at 1:04 PM #

    I’d still take Rick over Herb any day. And, yes, UT was in the NCAA last year..for the 7th straight year (compared to Herb’s 4 years). In the last 5 years, they’ve won 25, 22, 26, 25 and 20 wins compared w/ Herb’s 13, 23, 18, 21 and 21. Last year’s 20-11 record at UT was a down year for Barnes, but is still better than State’s 21-14. Rick is 169-70 in his 8th year at UT, while Herb is only 175-123 in his 10th year. This year, UT is 8-1 w/ wins over West Virginia and Iowa (68-59), a team State lost to (42-45).

  19. Jeff 12/11/2005 at 5:41 PM #

    “Scott, looks like Rick Barnes got his butt handed to him by Duke on a neutral court. Did Texas even make the big dance last year? If so, they lost in the first round. Please Rick, stay at Texas.”

    LOL!!! Texas lost in the first round last year…after playing the entire second half of the season without 2 of their 3 best players (1 of whom is from Roxboro, NC and was deemed by Herb to not be good enough to even pursue). Could you imagine the excuses if NC State had to play a season with 2 such important injuries?!

    packbacker continues to support my theory that he is just a parody,

  20. VaWolf82 12/11/2005 at 8:37 PM #

    I’m not sure that I remember Herb using excuses. A lot of message board posters have a complete repertoire they trot out every year. Last season during the 3-9 stretch, one poster even listed Levi Watkins injuries as a key reason for six weeks of miserable basketball.

    Another good example is the Iowa game this year. Many people trotted out the standard excuse that State’s offense is so complicated that it takes time to get everyone up to speed. This of course completely ignores the fact that the seven players who played in that game were all experienced players and the freshmen didn’t leave the bench.

    The question I would like answered is this: When will Herb have a year that fans do not have to find excuses for?

  21. Class of '74 12/12/2005 at 6:42 AM #

    Rick Barnes has a lot of support from wolfpackers but other than being a good recruiter I don’t hold him in such high regards. I do believe though if was in his 10th year he would not have our fanbase as sharply devided as it presently is.

  22. Rick Jernigan 12/12/2005 at 8:07 AM #

    Rick Barnes has taken two schools (Texas & Clemson) to their highest level of achievement in their basketball history. He also did very well at George Mason (??) and Providence. To do this at these particular schools is an overwhelming accomplishment.

    Jeff – I absolutely agree that the best teams over the regular season will, on average, be more successful in end-of-year tournaments. There are, however, notable exceptions such as Wake Forest. During Prosser’s four years, they are either 1st or 2nd (to Duke) in regular season ACC record but have a dismal 7-8 record in the ACC & NCAA tournaments. If we are fortunate enough to duplicate this regular season and tournament result during the next four years, will our fan base be ecstatic? It certainly would be a big improvement over the last four years.

  23. Jeff 12/12/2005 at 11:13 AM #

    Packbacker…do yourself a favor and realize that this is not Pack Pride. Nor is this some kind of open forum where there is an obligation to allow (1) stupidity or (2) personal attacks.

    This will save you the hassle of wondering why you waste your time typing personal attacks.

  24. packbackers 12/12/2005 at 9:56 PM #

    Thanks “Tar Heel” Jeff, it only took you 24 hours to erase my comment this time. I know you will not allow any positive comments to be made about NC State athletics. As usual, your glass is half empty.

  25. packbackers 12/13/2005 at 8:12 AM #

    Congrats to the Pack for moving up to 19th in the coaches poll. We stayed in the AP poll as well, again.

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