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NCAA tournament shows it’s madness to play tough non-conference schedules

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In the middle of summer, when many think of the sun, the beaches, and maybe the 18-hole course, and those who play sports go either to football, or baseball, or get ready for NFL training camp. , the heart of the college basketball season is being built. by telephone.

The non-conference programming process receives only modest attention, even among those who follow the sport – with the possible exception of regular tweets from CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein about who will play who. When full schedules are full, usually by the time college football teams enter the field, we might hear a discussion about coaches being loose due to the meager competition assembled.

That process wasn’t quite the same this year, not with the uncertainty of how a season would be built during the pandemic. However, the message ultimately sent by what happened in 2020-2021 should not be ignored by coaches who want to continue to be successful – and to be employed.

Planning difficult is a sucker bet.

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If you’re at one major conference and you line up a number of opponents from other major conferences for your pre-conference schedule, you might be doing what’s best for the sport, and at a better time, to sell tickets. But chances are, you’re not doing the smartest thing about your team’s success.

If you want to find the shows that have had the toughest schedules this season, you don’t want to look into the Sweet 16. The average ranking of the 13 major conference teams still alive in the NCAA tournament is 63rd in the NET. Only Michigan (19) and Alabama (33) ranked above 50th. And if you look at just the non-conference part of the schedule, the schools control part, the average is 165. Alabama’s 108 rank is the highest in that category. Michigan, on the other hand, was 261st.

The best place to find coaches who have endured tough schedules: either the unemployment line or the bank, whichever metaphor you prefer. Many of them were made redundant and paid nice redemption checks for the problem.

College basketball’s No.1 schedule last season, in part because games canceled due to COVID breaks might have lightened it, was played by Penn State and interim coach Jim Ferry. His Lions have only played one major opponent and have beaten six teams in the NCAA tournament. But they finished under .500, and he didn’t make it.

Indiana played the No. 4 schedule, which included the No. 74 non-league schedule. Archie Miller’s team also finished under .500, and he was released shortly after the season ended.

Minnesota and Richard Pitino? Calendar n ° 11. Marquette and Steve Wojciechowski? # 34. Steve Prohm from Iowa State? No. 3.

The Pac-12 is now celebrated for placing four teams in the Sweet 16, and many college basketball analysts are disparaged for previously dismissing the league as unimpressive. Maybe in the West they were just smarter than everyone else. With the exception of UCLA, whose non-conference calendar was ranked No.69, the other three Pac-12 schools had an average non-conference calendar of 267.

These were the non-conference teams played by USC, Oregon and the State of Oregon: Cal Baptist, Montana, BYU, UConn, UC Irvine, San Francisco (twice), Texas Southern, Santa Clara , UC Riverside, Missouri, Seton Hall, Eastern Washington, Florida A&M, Portland, Wyoming, Portland, UTSA, Portland State and Division II Northwest University.

It is not exactly the ascent of the Himalayas.

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It cost them the seed, but what difference did it end up making? Oregon had a team worthy of a seed four, but a record that the committee deemed worthy of a seed 7. The Ducks then ran Iowa’s No.2 seed off the field in the second round. Oregon State had the No. 312 schedule and had to win the Pac-12 auto bid to reach the NCAA, but they won two games and are still playing. USC was ranked sixth but won a Great man of All-America freshman on the field and roughed up Kansas, who played non-conference schedule No.45 and overall schedule No.16, but couldn’t find the answer, despite all that experience, to defending Evan Mobley.

College basketball needs those early season games that spark interest in the sport and the season, the types of games you see in the Champions Classic or the ACC / Big Ten Challenge, or in annual rivalries like than Kentucky-Louisville or Xavier-Cincinnati.

If all of the success in such games produced is a favored NCAA seed that may or may not be badly spent, and all of this could be dismissed as unimportant or misleading to the success of March, why bother? Especially when you consider that an outright struggle or failure in these games can lead to dismissal.

That doesn’t mean those with tough schedules do it wrong. Many factors play a role in how best to plan a season: your own expectations, the promise of your conference, league-wide agreements requiring particular games to be played.

This means that it is much more dangerous to play too difficult a schedule than too easy. And that those who judge everything – literally everything – about the college basketball season on the basis of a single elimination tournament at the end of the season hijack the whole business.



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