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Analyzing The American Athletic’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

The league’s newest member, Wichita State, has a schedule that will prepare it to make a title run in its first American campaign. But the Shockers don’t have the top non-league slate of the 12 presented below.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Kentucky vs Wichita State
Wichita State, probably underseeded last March, could see its fortunes improve as a member of the American Athletic.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

In the first two editions of this series, I settled upon grouping the top tier of Division I into the “Power 6.” This was primarily due to a thought that the American Athletic as a whole wasn’t taking basketball seriously—at least outside of the six or so traditional hoops powers in the then-11-team lineup. But thanks to the admission of Wichita State and several recent quality coaching hires—most notably at UCF and Tulane—from this point forward, I’m expanding the my own power conference grouping to seven.

The top of the American, now consisting of a trio of top 20 teams in the four-year ranking, is very, very good. And while the bottom is still not great, especially when compared to the lower tier of the other half-dozen power leagues, there’s potential for growth in the middle. And that’s even factoring in the reality that teams like UConn, Memphis, Tulsa, and Houston may struggle in 2017-18.

American Athletic Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Wichita State 11.87773 10
SMU 10.96517 15
Cincinnati 9.415665 20
Connecticut 6.172917 55
Houston 4.577689 72
Memphis 4.333722 79
Tulsa 3.49938 87
Temple 3.217876 94
UCF 1.00776845 136
East Carolina -1.369427 198
Tulane -2.791177 235
USF -4.2093025 267
Average 3.891500913 105.6666667
Conference Rank 7th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

In three of the four scheduling rankings, the American ranks the lowest of the Power 7 conferences and near the bottom of Division I overall. The exception is the Maximum Score ranking, where the presence of so many conference members in strong bracketed tournaments bumps the conference average score to 21st. Of course, teams will have to win actual games in those events to earn the resulting boost.

Who’s to blame for the conference’s relatively weak placement? It certainly isn’t Temple, UConn, or Wichita State, all of whom have slates that rank quite highly over all four categories. But if you look further down each table, you’ll see that the majority of American Athletic squads have non-conference schedules that rank in the bottom half of Division I, with Cincinnati’s placement varying depending on the metric. But it’s USF and East Carolina, the leagues 12th and 10th-ranked teams in the Team Score table, that really drag the league down as a whole. The Bulls have the fifth-worst average schedule score in all of Division I, while the Pirates consistently rank at the very bottom—351st of 351.

*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

American Athletic 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
Connecticut* 6.177712063 10 5.608189096 17 7.490066542 5 4.632476249 36
Wichita State* 5.815778498 12 5.12490503 29 6.456524254 12 5.001816817 24
Temple* 5.441492753 22 5.759521905 15 5.918595213 20 4.912150709 26
Cincinnati* 1.921588944 166 1.507079664 194 2.700970908 137 1.477111994 187
Tulsa* 1.693124761 184 0.746895885 235 3.014537831 123 0.2897053938 253
Memphis 0.9801752423 231 0.9801752423 216 0.9801752423 243 0.9801752423 215
Tulane 0.855966976 237 0.855966976 227 0.855966976 252 0.855966976 225
SMU* 0.7330389235 248 -1.322367647 330 2.007853529 182 -0.6445442592 298
UCF* 0.0593319724 277 -0.52841458 300 1.065037277 238 -0.8684150458 313
Houston* -0.1778770984 291 -0.355184565 295 0.445323425 273 -0.7641076063 307
USF -2.455519165 347 -2.455519165 346 -2.455519165 347 -2.455519165 347
East Carolina -5.743135548 351 -5.743135548 351 -5.743135548 351 -5.743135548 351
Average 1.27513986 198 0.8481760243 212.9166667 1.894699707 181.9166667 0.6394734798 215.1666667
Conference Rank 28th of 32 30th of 32 21st of 32 30th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Wichita State and Tulane, two teams expected to finish in near-opposite positions in the American Athletic race, both managed to do an admirable job of scheduling to their expectations—ranking in the top six nationally in this metric. UConn and Temple over-scheduled as usual, though this fact should help both if each play better than they did in 2016-17. However, three teams with serious NCAA hopes—Cincinnati, UCF, and SMU did a miserable job of drawing up a slate that will test them adequately. The Mustangs’ Average Schedule Score ranking is an unforgivable 233 spots lower than their Team Score rank.

American Athletic 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
5 Wichita State 10 12 -2
6 Tulane 235 237 -2
112 Connecticut 55 10 45
167 Temple 94 22 72
183 USF 267 347 -80
203 Tulsa 87 184 -97
256 UCF 136 277 -141
264 Cincinnati 20 166 -146
275 Memphis 79 231 -152
276 East Carolina 198 351 -153
317 Houston 72 291 -219
322 SMU 15 248 -233
198.8333333 Average (25/32 conf.) 105.6666667 198 -92.33333333

American Athletic Road And Non-D1 Games

True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
24 (+1 possible in Paradise Jam +1 semi-road game + 1 possible semi-road game in PK80) 10 (+1 possible in Paradise Jam +1 semi-road game + 1 possible semi-road game in PK80) 0 (+1 possible Maui Inv.)

The American’s total of 24 non-conference road games ranks third among the Power 7 and is the most of any conference that doesn’t participate in a challenge series. And thanks to some atypical power conference road games, the American sits just behind the Pac-12 in terms of true road games scheduled against mid-major foes. Currently, the league is one of two Power 7 conferences without a game against a non-D1 foe, with the Pac-12 being the other. Of course, that changes if either Wichita State or Cal meets Chaminade in Maui. However, Houston’s quirky pre-Paradise Jam road exhibition against Division II Lynn was cancelled once that event was moved to Liberty’s campus.

American Athletic Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Southland 12 0
MEAC 11 0
SEC 11 6
SWAC 9 0
C-USA 7 3
Sun Belt 7 2
Big 12 6 3
CAA 6 1
A 10 5 3
MAAC 5 2
Pac-12 5 3
ACC 4 5
Big East 4 4
Big Ten 4 4
MAC 4 1
America East 3 0
Atlantic Sun 3 0
Big South 3 1
Horizon 3 0
NEC 3 0
SoCon 3 1
Ivy 2 0
MVC 2 3
MW 2 2
Patriot 2 0
Summit 2 1
WAC 2 0
Big Sky 1 0
Big West 1 1
Non-D1 0 1
OVC 0 0
WCC 0 1

With teams in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest, it’s no surprise that the American’s 12 members will play non-conference games 29 Division I leagues, with just the OVC and WCC missing (though Portland is a potential PK80 opponent for UConn). However, it’s surprising to see Southern conferences occupy the top six places on this table, considering the American Athletic’s geographic spread.

American Athletic 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 3 4 4 11 0.9166666667 9
26-50 1 4 6 11 0.9166666667 7
51-75 1 4 1 6 0.5 5
76-100 3 1 4 8 0.6666666667 4
101-150 11 3 2 16 1.333333333 10
151-200 5 3 2 10 0.8333333333 6
201-250 17 2 1 20 1.666666667 1
251-300 19 1 0 20 1.666666667 4
301-351 28 2 0 30 2.5 1
Non-D1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 88 24 20 132
Average 7.333333333 2 1.666666667 11
Percentage 0.6666666667 0.1818181818 0.1515151515
Conference Rank (of 32) 7th 26th 6th

An average of more than seven home games scheduled per team...check.

An average of just two road contests per team...check.

A decent percentage of neutral-site games...check.

Yes, the American Athletic definitely schedules like a power conference. And with 80 of its 132 known non-conference games coming against teams from outside the top 150, the conference rivals the Big Ten in terms of lining up cupcakes.

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 except for Tulane (TulaneGreenWave.com).

10. UConn Huskies

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Victory Bracket

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
Colgate (246) None Michigan State (16) or Oregon (18)* Arizona (7)
Stony Brook (142)* DePaul (171)* Portland (215) Auburn (122)
Boston University (214) North Carolina (6) or (or North Carolina,
Columbia (167) Oklahoma (23) or Oklahoma, or
Monmouth (108) Arkansas (42) Arkansas)*
Coppin State (339) (or Portland)*
Villanova (1) Syracuse (38)
(Madison Square Garden)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Boston University, Syracuse (N)) and 2 losses (Oregon (N), @Auburn)

The Huskies stumbled and bumbled their way to a 16-17 finish last season, with a late run to the American Tournament semifinals pushing them tantalizingly close to .500 and a surprise NCAA bid. If UConn is healthier this year (and really, that won’t take much), they should be far more competitive. And with this slate, highlighted by trips to Arizona, a loaded Phil Knight Invitational, and a Jimmy V Classic showdown with Syracuse, Kevin Ollie’s team can put itself right back in the national conversation. But if things go south against this schedule, Ollie’s hot seat might just get even warmer.

12. Wichita State Shockers

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
UMKC (251) Oklahoma (23) California (49)* Chaminade (Non-D1) Baylor (13)
College of Charleston (133) (InTrust Bank Arena) VCU (35) or (or Notre Dame, Oklahoma State (32)
Savannah State (330) Marquette (57)* Michigan, LSU)*
South Dakota State (119) Notre Dame (21)
Arkansas State (204) Michigan (27) or
FGCU(146) LSU (90)
(or Chaminade)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (LSU (N), @Oklahoma, South Dakota State) and 1 loss (Oklahoma State (N))

Even though the Maui Invitational field isn’t quite as loaded as in most seasons—a follow-on effect from the involvement of 16 mostly power conference teams in the Phil Knight Invitational—it and a trio of games against Big 12 foes will provide the American’s newest member with many early tests. But don’t sleep on a home schedule that will see CAA favorite College of Charleston, perennial ASUN champ FGCU, and 2017 Summit Tournament winner South Dakota State all visit Koch Arena.

22. Temple Owls

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (3)
Wisconsin (12) None Old Dominion (110)* Clemson (47) La Salle (159)
Saint Joseph's (107) Auburn (122) or (or Dayton, Ohio, Georgia (54)
Villanova (1) Indiana State (174)* Hofstra)* Penn (230)
Drexel (242) Dayton (40) or George Washington (83)
Ohio (127) or (Capital One Arena)
Hofstra (132)
(or Clemson)*
South Carolina (45)
(New York City)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (La Salle, @Saint Joseph’s, Penn) and 2 losses (George Washington, @Villanova)

Much like UConn, the Owls went through an up-and-down season spoiled by injuries, which is how a team that defeated both Florida State and West Virginia to win the NIT Season Tip-Off managed to not reach even the postseason version of that tournament. But Fran Dunphy’s outfit should be ready to get back to the NCAAs, particularly if it can make some early noise against an impressive slate. While home games against Big East favorite Villanova and a rebuilding Wisconsin team immediately jump out at you, the other three Big 5 contests will all feature improved opposition. Plus, a trip to Georgia should provide a nice challenge. However, the Owls can once again earn more national notice through an early tournament, as Temple is capable of doing quite well in Charleston.

166. Cincinnati Bearcats

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Savannah State (330)* None Buffalo (104)* None Xavier (25)
Western Carolina (268) Richmond (80) or UCLA (28)
Coppin State (339) UAB (147)*
Alabama State (327) Iowa (33) or
Mississippi State (101) South Dakota State (119) or
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (345) Louisiana (123) or
Cleveland State (219) Wyoming (131)*
Florida (17)
(Newark, N.J.)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Xavier) and 1 loss (UCLA (NCAA))

The Bearcats, winners of 30 a season ago, see their schedule nearly completely turn over when compared to 2016-17. That’s not necessarily for the better. Road trips to archrival Xavier and the UCLA team that eliminated Cincy from the NCAAs last March in combination with a neutral-site contest against Florida and a trio of games at the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic only manage to lift this slate to “middling” territory. And that’s thanks to anchor that is the seven-game home slate, which features five teams ranked in the bottom 50 of the four-year table.

184. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

*Exempt Event: Puerto Tico Tip-Off

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
Lamar (299) None Western Michigan (155)* South Carolina (45) Illinois State (70)
Oral Roberts (216) Iowa State (14) or (or Illinois State, Oklahoma State (32)
Central Arkansas (336) Appalachian State (286)* Boise State, or UTEP)*
UTSA (301) Illinois State (70) or Kansas State (41)
Prairie View A&M (326) Boise State (77) or (Wichita, Kan.)
Manhattan (233) UTEP (168)
(or South Carolina)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Oral Roberts, Illinois State) and 2 losses (Oklahoma State, Illinois State (N))

After earning an NCAA bid, completely out of left field in 2016, the Golden Hurricane won just 15 games a season ago. Six of those victories came before American play began and the quality of the half-dozen home games on this slate means Frank Haith’s team should equal that total easily. The question is whether Tulsa can exceed it—and to that end doing well in the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off and winning at Illinois State and against Kansas State in Wichita will be paramount. Note that Tulsa played the Redbirds twice last season and could again this fall, thanks to the pair’s participation in consecutive ESPN Events-run tournaments.

231. Memphis Tigers

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Little Rock (165) None Alabama (59) None UAB (147)
New Orleans (273) (Annapolis, Md.)
Northern Kentucky (222) Louisville (8)*
Mercer (151) (New York City)
Samford (225)
Bryant (309)*
Albany (126)*
Siena (169)*
Loyola (Md.) (293)
LSU (90)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (UAB) and 0 losses

The Tigers are another squad facing almost an entirely new non-league slate, but that’s not to say there aren’t familiar faces on it. Former C-USA rival UAB returns, while former MVC, Metro, Great Midwest, and C-USA foe Louisville will meet Memphis in the showcase game of the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden. However, the roster turnover Tubby Smith’s team went through after a disappointing 19-win campaign is the biggest topic in the Mid-South right now. And with 10 home games, and none against particularly scary opposition, the goal here is to get the Tigers’ revamped roster some time to gel.

The game against Loyola (Md.) will be a special one, as Tubby Smith will coach against his son G.G., who’s entering his fifth season in charge of the Greyhounds.

237. Tulane Green Wave

*Exempt Event: Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
LIU Brooklyn (288)* None Colorado State (92)* Florida State (36) Georgia State (117)
Southeastern Louisiana (298) Fordham (186)* (Tampa) North Carolina (6)
Miami (Ohio) (253)*
Alcorn State (328)
Southern (284)
Nicholls State (329)
South Alabama (263)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Southeastern Louisiana, Southern) and 1 loss (North Carolina (N))

Mike Dunleavy’s Green Wave won just six games in his first season in charge, with just two of those victories coming before league action tipped off. But that total should grow with this home-heavy slate, even if the five games scheduled away from New Orleans (particularly at North Carolina and in Tampa against Florida State) won’t be easy.

248. SMU Mustangs

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
UMBC (307)* None UNI (82)* None TCU (69)
ULM (202) Arizona (7) or
Northwestern State (294) North Carolina State (67)*
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (345) Villanova (1) or
UTRGV (335) Purdue (19) or
USC (65) Tennessee (62) or
New Orleans (273) WKU (190)*
Boise State (77)
Cal Poly (243)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (TCU) and 2 losses (@USC, @Boise State)

Two of the three teams the Mustangs lost to in non-conference action last season visit Moody in 2017. (Michigan is the lone exception.) Reversing those results will be important, especially when you compare USC and Boise State to the other seven teams SMU hosts this season. Tim Jankovich’s Ponies will really need to sweep those games, win at TCU, and make a run in the Battle 4 Atlantis to have any hope of avoiding the seeding trap they’ve encountered in their recent NCAA appearances.

277. UCF Knights

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Mercer (151) Nebraska (88)* None None Alabama (59)
Gardner-Webb (213) West Virginia (11) or Stetson (325)
William & Mary (113) Marist (312)*
Missouri (150)* St. John's (102) or
Southern (284) Oregon State (135) or
Southeastern Louisiana (298) Missouri (150) or
South Carolina State (334) Long Beach State (156)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Stetson) and 0 losses

After a run to the NIT semifinals, hopes are high that the Knights can reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2005 in Johnny Dawkins’s second season. But UCF might need some help from a few teams expected to improve this year—Missouri, St. John’s, Oregon State, and Alabama—to make that a reality. Adding to the potential is the Knights’ participation in a tournament that provides them with a trio of semi-home games. If things break right and UCF’s opposition rises to the occasion during the remainder of the season, it could be a happy March in Orlando.

291. Houston Cougars

*Exempt Event: Paradise Jam

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2-3)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2-3)
McNeese State (321) None Drexel (242)* Providence (43) Liberty (289)
Incarnate Word (271) Mercer (151) (Uncasville, Conn.) (or Mercer)*
New Orleans (273) (or Liberty)* Saint Louis (239)
Arkansas (42) Colorado (60) or LSU (90)
Fairfield (232) Wake Forest (66) or
Prairie View A&M (326) Drake (260) or
Quinnipiac (264)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Prairie View A&M, LIberty) and 2 losses (@LSU, @Arkansas)

The Cougars’ window of contention might have closed after a pair of 20-plus win campaigns that resulted in NIT first round exits. And this schedule has a “dialed back” quality that certainly indicates that Kelvin Sampson anticipates a rebuilding season. But there are still a few opportunities for Houston to show that a postseason bid is possible—Arkansas visits H&PE Arena (note that UH will play off-campus this season, thanks to renovations at Hofheinz Pavilion), while the Cougars travel to A 10 contender Saint Louis and to Connecticut for a neutral-site showdown with Providence. Plus, Houston should at least reach the final of the Paradise Jam, even if it has to meet new host Liberty in the semifinals.

347. USF Bulls

*Exempt Event: Hoosier Tip-Off Classic

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
FAU (291) None None None Stetson (325)
Morgan State (322) Indiana (31)*
Howard (333)* Elon (170)
Arkansas State (204)* Appalachian State (286)
Eastern Michigan (137)*
FIU (259)
Bethune-Cookman (337)
Northern Arizona (319)
Charlotte (203)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Bethune-Cookman) and 2 losses (Elon, @FAU)

Former Dayton and Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory is the permanent replacement for Orlando Antigua, and his first Bulls’ non-conference slate should provide at least as many wins as last’s seasons. In 2016-17, USF won six of its seven contests before the conference season. And while the Bulls play three mid-majors on the road, all are beatable, as are all nine home foes. Indiana, which anchors USF’s round-robin multi-team event, is the only top 100 foe on the entire slate, while eight of the nine teams that visit the Sun Dome rank outside of the top 200.

351. East Carolina Pirates

*Exempt Event: Showcase On The Banks

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Coppin State (339)* None None None Rutgers (199)*
Radford (255)
Central Connecticut State (346)*
Cleveland State (219)*
North Carolina A&T (348)
UNCW (91)
Delaware State (338)
Campbell (311)
Charlotte (203)
Grambling State (350)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (North Carolina A&T) and 2 losses (@Charlotte, @UNCW)

So, how exactly does a team end up with the worst non-conference schedule, not only among the Power 7, but in the entire country. For starters, it must line up 10 home games with six of those coming against bottom 50 teams and only one against a top 100 opponent, then ensure that the only road game on the slate comes against a team that rivals it in the race for worst power conference team. That’s what the Pirates did and why their slate ranks as the literal absolute worst for 2017.

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