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Analyzing The Patriot League’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

Last March, Bucknell put West Virginia on notice in the NCAA Tournament’s First Round. This fall, the Bison will attempt to do the same against several other national powers.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Buffalo Practice
While it’s not likely, Stephen Brown and the Bucknell Bison have a non-conference schedule that could put them in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2017-18 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Ranking The Teams

The top two teams in the Patriot League over the past two seasons, Bucknell and Lehigh, are the only ones in the upper half of the national four-year ranking. Despite three consecutive regular season titles, the Bison have only qualified for the NCAAs once in that span—in 2017. On the other hand, the Mountain Hawks have lost two league title games on the trot, with their 2016 loss to Holy Cross sending the Crusaders to the First Four.

Lafayette, the Patriot’s somewhat surprising 2015 NCAA entry (the Leopards won as the no. 4 seed), is the only league member that ranks in the bottom 50. The Leopards’ 20-win campaign in 2014-15 was an aberration in a four-year cycle that saw them win just 47 total contests.

Patriot Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Bucknell 1.3399775 128
Lehigh -0.2477305 163
Boston University -1.784973 214
Navy -2.911001 238
Colgate -3.1930265 246
Holy Cross -3.248035 247
Army -3.3946385 248
American -4.864973 283
Loyola MD -5.151995 293
Lafayette -6.407346 314
Average -2.9863741 237.4
Conference Rank 24 of 32

Ranking The Schedules

Overall, with just two Patriot League teams participating in bracketed tournaments this season (with neither being exempt, oddly enough), the conference’s respectable average schedule strength ranking of 13th jumps up to 11th when only accounting for known contests and ninth when considering the worst possible performances of teams participating in such quasi-elimination affairs. However, the Patriot suffers when factoring in the high-quality matchups present in the many tournaments scheduled over November and December.

In terms of individual teams, however, Bucknell’s schedule—featuring nine true road games, with four coming against 2017 NCAA teams—ranks among the absolute best nationally. And while Lehigh might not be able to match the Bison in terms of team quality, the Mountain Hawks’ slate is the only one in the Patriot that holds a candle to that of the 2017 champs. Six of the 10 league members own slates that fall in the bottom half of Division I in at least one category, with Army’s and Navy’s looking particularly thin.

*Denotes team will participate in a bracketed tournament. Reminder: Known Score = known matchups only; Average Score = known games+average of potential bracketed matchups; Maximum Score = known games+games against best potential bracketed matchups; Minimum Score = known games+games against worst potential bracketed matchups

Patriot Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Bucknell 7.479241558 3 7.479241558 3 7.479241558 6 7.479241558 3
Lehigh 5.153264968 26 5.153264968 26 5.153264968 42 5.153264968 19
Boston University 2.105658264 153 2.105658264 149 2.105658264 173 2.105658264 141
American 1.902694391 168 1.902694391 163 1.902694391 185 1.902694391 154
Lafayette 1.762554705 179 1.762554705 172 1.762554705 197 1.762554705 164
Loyola (Md.) 1.567381559 191 1.567381559 187 1.567381559 212 1.567381559 180
Holy Cross* 1.062080694 228 1.142438195 211 1.095702223 236 1.028459166 214
Colgate 0.7926687409 240 0.7926687409 229 0.7926687409 253 0.7926687409 227
Navy -0.3369350096 301 -0.3369350096 294 -0.3369350096 307 -0.3369350096 290
Army West Point* -1.137702248 331 -0.8338253225 318 -1.087466202 333 -1.187938293 328
Average 2.035090762 182 2.073514205 175.2 2.04347652 194.4 2.026705005 172
Conference Rank 13 of 32 11 of 32 19 of 32 9 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

The Patriot League sits right in the middle of Division I in terms of the scheduling gap, with all but the two service academies over-scheduling this fall. Naturally, Bucknell, the 128th-ranked team over the past four seasons but with the third-strongest non-conference schedule of 2017, falls in that category. However, it’s two teams with hopes of upending the Bison in the league race this season—Colgate and Holy Cross—that did the best in terms of scheduling to their perceived capabilities.

Patriot Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
19 Colgate 246 240 6
55 Holy Cross 247 228 19
145 Boston University 214 153 61
149 Navy 238 301 -63
189 Army West Point 248 331 -83
209 Loyola (Md.) 293 191 102
225 American 283 168 115
237 Bucknell 128 3 125
250 Lafayette 314 179 135
252 Lehigh 163 26 137
173 Average (15/32 conf.) 237.4 182 55.4

Patriot Home, Power Conference, & Non-D1 Games

True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
40 1 19 (+1 semi-road game) 7

As long as the Veterans Classic continues, Navy will likely host a Power 7 team in most seasons. This season, Pitt follows in the footsteps of Michigan State (a five-point Spartan win), Florida (an 18-point Gator triumph), and Ohio State (10-point winners a season ago). With the Panthers expected to struggle, maybe the Midshipmen can actually cash in on their opportunity this time around.

But Patriot League teams will play every other power foe scheduled away from home—an average of two each. That’s a low total for a mid-major league, as just a half-dozen conferences will play fewer Power 7 road games than the Patriot’s 19. But at least a few of the 10 squads won’t face a team from outside of Division I this year. Those games look to be necessary, as the conference ranks 23rd out of 25 mid-major leagues in terms of home games. However, the 40 scheduled is still more than double the total of the last-place SWAC.

Patriot Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
America East 16 0
MAAC 14 1
Ivy 13 0
NEC 12 0
ACC 10 0
CAA 8 1
A 10 7 1
Non-D1 7 0
MEAC 5 0
Atlantic Sun 4 0
American Athletic 3 0
Big 12 2 0
Big East 2 0
Big Ten 2 0
Summit 2 0
MAC 1 0
MW 1 0
Pac-12 1 0
SEC 1 0
SoCon 1 1
Big Sky 0 0
Big South 0 0
Big West 0 0
C-USA 0 0
Horizon 0 0
MVC 0 0
OVC 0 0
Southland 0 0
Sun Belt 0 0
SWAC 0 0
WAC 0 0
WCC 0 0

Patriot League schedules are highly regionalized, with 12 leagues—all of which lack a Northeastern member—completely missing. The ACC is the most frequent provider of Power 7 opposition with 10 games, while the other six leagues only represent a total of 11 games.

The four most comparable Eastern mid-major leagues—the America East, MAAC, Ivy, and NEC—slot in for an average of 5.5 games on the typical Patriot schedule. That’s almost half of the available games.

Patriot Non-Conference Games By Strength And Location

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
1-25 0 3 1 4 0.4 0
26-50 0 8 0 8 0.8 0
51-75 1 8 0 9 0.9 0
76-100 3 4 0 7 0.7 0
101-150 5 9 0 14 1.4 0
151-200 9 4 1 14 1.4 2
201-250 7 8 2 17 1.7 0
251-300 3 7 0 10 1 0
301-351 5 15 2 22 2.2 2
Non-D1 7 0 0 7 0.7 0
Total 40 66 6 112
Average 4 6.6 0.6 11.2
Percentage 0.3571428571 0.5892857143 0.05357142857
Conference Rank (of 32) 28th 4th 24h

Even though Patriot League members have done well collectively in terms of finding games against like foes, they’re still playing roughly 60 percent of their non-conference games away from home. Somewhat distressingly, two-thirds of league matchups against non-conference foes ranked in the bottom 50 are road contests.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Average Schedule Strength National Ranking. Numbers in parentheses are opponent’s Team Score Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

3. Bucknell Bison

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational (Victory Bracket Visitor)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
Siena (169) None None None Monmouth (108)
Ball State (197)* Arkansas (42)*
Vermont (89) North Carolina (6)*
La Salle (159) Maryland (30)
Stony Brook (142)*
Saint Joseph's (107)
Northeastern (138)
VCU (35)
Richmond (80)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Richmond) and 2 losses (@La Salle, Siena (N))

Nearly every team on the Bison’s non-conference slate has postseason aspirations, which should do wonders for Bucknell’s own hopes—which are sky high after last season ended with a six-point loss to West Virginia in an NCAA 4/13 game. And if Nathan Davis’s squad can do some damage in their nine difficult road games, particularly the three Power 7 ones, the Bison might not even need the auto bid to reach March Madness this time.

26. Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Monmouth (108) None None None Marist (312)
Siena (169) USC (65)
Eastern (Non-D1) Pittsburgh (53)
Yale (96) Princeton (76)
Mount St. Mary's (236) Virginia (2)
St. Francis (Pa.) (279)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Princeton, St. Francis (Pa.)) and 1 loss (@Yale)

Lafayette’s Valley rivals acquitted themselves well early in 2016-17 In their first four games, the Mountain Hawks fell at Xavier by just three, took Yale to OT in New Haven, and defeated both Princeton (in Bethlehem) and Mississippi State (in Starkville). Eventually, Lehigh won 20 and reached the Patriot final. A similar difficult slate awaits this year, with road trips to USC, Princeton, and Virginia the highlights. This lineup should certainly prepare Brett Reed’s club for a run at Bucknell’s crown.

153. Boston University Terriers

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Northeastern (138) None None None UConn (55)
Albany (126) Maine (343)
Wheaton (Non-D1) New Hampshire (220)
Elon (170) Miami (Fla.) (29)
Bethune Cookman (337)
UMass Lowell (316)
Harvard (106)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Northeastern, Maine, New Hampshire) and 3 losses (@Northeastern, @UConn, @UMass Lowell)

Like many of their league rivals, Joe Jones’ Terriers swapped a home-heavy 2016 non-league slate with a road-intensive one for this season. That exchange, and the addition of road trips to Miami and Ivy favorite Harvard, doesn’t bode well for a BU team that won five non-Patriot games last year.

168. American Eagles

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
VMI (318) None None None Kansas State (41)
Howard (333) West Virginia (11)
Mount St. Mary's (236) Wagner (244)
New Hampshire (220)
St. Francis (Pa.) (279)
Maryland Eastern Shore (315)
Western Illinois (300)
Marquette (57)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Western Illinois, Maryland Eastern Shore) and 4 losses (Wagner, St. Francis (Pa.), @Howard, New Hampshire)

Last season, the Eagles went 3-8 against a non-conference slate that featured six home games. All of those wins came in those half-dozen contests at Bender Arena, and half that many teams will visit Northwest DC this fall.

179. Lafayette Leopards

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6)
Saint Peter's (164) None None Villanova (1) George Mason (157)
Quinnipiac (264) (Allentown, Pa.) NJIT (249)
Penn (230) Princeton (76)
Susquehanna (Non-D1) Drexel (242)
Sacred Heart (304)
Cornell (277)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Saint Peter’s, NJIT) and 6 losses (@Villanova, Cornell, Princeton, Drexel, @Penn, Sacred Heart)

Fran O’Hanlon’s young Leopards took their share of lumps in a nine-win campaign that featured just four non-league wins. However, with eight of last season’s 11 early season opponents on this season’s schedule, the Leopards will get plenty of chances to their spots have changed right out of the gate.

191. Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Towson (152) None None None Northwestern (61)
Goucher (Non-D1) Fairfield (232)
Binghamton (331) UMass Lowell (316)
Drexel (242) Dartmouth (256)
Mount St. Mary's (236)
Florida State (36)
Memphis (79)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Fairfield, Mount St. Mary’s, Binghamton, UMass Lowell) and 1 loss (@Towson)

G.G. Smith’s Greyhounds got out of the gate fairly well, but they lost sight of the rabbit late, as a 13-10 record turned into 16-17 one after a CBI quarterfinal loss to Coastal Carolina. Still, Loyola managed a winning non-conference record against a schedule that only featured a quartet of home games, like this version. However, the 2017 version sees the Hounds visit four teams they defeated at home last fall. There’s also a trio of Power 7 road trips, an increase of one from a year ago, with the Northwestern and Florida State games looking especially difficult.

228. Holy Cross Crusaders

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Harvard (106) None Manhattan (233) None Sacred Heart (304)
Albany (126) (Belfast, Northern Ireland) Rhode Island (56)
New Hampshire (220) La Salle (159) or Fairleigh Dickinson (296)
Iona (98) Towson (152) UMass (130)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland) Siena (169)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (@Harvard, @Albany, @Sacred Heart) and 3 losses (UMass (N), @New Hampshire, @Rhode island)

On Friday, December 1st, Bill Carmody’s Crusaders will make history, as they’ll play Manhattan in the first Division I game played in Europe. And with no Power 7 teams on Holy Cross’s schedule this year, that two-game trip to Belfast is the highlight of this 11-contest slate. However, considering Holy Cross dropped its first three games last season, starting with trips to Syracuse and South Carolina, and ended up finishing two-games under .500, maybe this year’s schedule will help the 2016 Patriot Tournament champs find more consistency. On the other hand, the presence of several mid-major postseason hopefuls could derail the Crusaders’ own chances early on.

240. Colgate Raiders

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Cornell (277) None None None UConn (55)
UMBC (307) Boston College (160)
Columbia (167) Albany (126)
NJIT (249) Binghamton (331)
Pittsburgh-Bradford (Non-D1) Marist (312)
Syracuse (38)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Cornell) and 5 losses (@Syracuse, @NJIT, @Columbia, Binghamton, Albany)

A young Raider squad defeated just one D1 foe in the non-conference, but managed to win eight Patriot League games. As a result, they’re heading into 2017-18 with hopes of earning a home quarterfinal, at worst. Matt Langel’s squad will take its lumps on the road, but should increase its non-league win totals thanks to five winnable games at Cotterell.

301. Navy Midshipmen

*Exempt Event: Homewood Suites FGCU Shootout

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Pittsburgh (53)* None St. Francis-Brooklyn (317) None Miami (Fla.) (29)
Washington (Md.) (Non-D1)* Denver (187) Penn (230)
Delaware (269) Bryant (309)
Morgan State (322) FGCU (146)*
Lipscomb (240) Coppin State (339)
Columbia (167)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Washington (Md.), Penn, Bryant, Columbia) and 0 losses

The Midshipmen dropped back to .500 last season after winning 19 games the year before, but Ed DeChellis’s charges are poised to contend because of the experienced they gained in 2016-17. That being said, they could struggle against this schedule, with a pair of trips to Florida—one to play Miami and the other a three-game round-robin at FGCU—joining Pittsburgh‘s Veterans Classic trip to Annapolis as the main highlights.

331. Army West Point Black Knights

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (2) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6-7)
True Home Games (2) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6-7)
John Jay (Non-D1) Air Force (234) UMBC (307) None Hofstra (132)
Columbia (167) (Madison Square Garden) (Charleston, S.C.) Marist (312)
Marist (312) Niagara (297)
(or The Citadel) The Citadel (323)
(or Marist)
Binghamton (331)
Wake Forest (66)
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (@Columbia, Air Force, St. Francis-Brooklyn, Binghamton) and 0 losses

The good news for the Black Knights is that four of their six non-conference victims from a season ago are back for another go-round. The bad news is that only Columbia will visit West Point. Still, even with so many road trips, the Cadets still could experience some success—they play just one Power 7 team and will participate in a winnable tournament at The Citadel.

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