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

The Ancient Eight’s top three title contenders all boast non-conference schedules that rank in the national top 100.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Princeton vs Notre Dame
The defending Ivy regular season and tournament champs head into this season with hopes of a repeat and a schedule befitting a contender.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

With two teams in the top 100 of the four-year ranking and Harvard tantalizingly close, the top of the Ivy is among the strongest of all the mid-major leagues. And with no teams ranking in the bottom 50, the second division doesn’t act as much of an anchor either. Now, if Penn can keep up its recent improvement under Steve Donahue, perhaps the Quakers can, at worst, join Columbia as a quality mid-table pair for the group.

Ivy Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Princeton 4.5196558 76
Yale 3.14471315 96
Harvard 2.57137815 106
Columbia -0.3240498 167
Penn -2.6372246 230
Dartmouth -3.7953427 256
Brown -4.18409 266
Cornell -4.652528 277
Average -0.669686 184.25
Conference Rank 15th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

There’s a considerable gap in schedule quality between the Ivy’s top five programs and the remaining three. More than 100 places separate the Ivy’s fifth-ranked schedule (belonging to either Columbia or Penn, depending on the metric) and Dartmouth in sixth. And the trio of teams that have exclusively represented the league in the NCAAs since Cornell’s 2010 bid are in another stratosphere when it comes to creating non-conference slates, as Princeton and Harvard are consistently top 60 teams across all four calculations, while Yale is a top 100 team in all but one of the categories.

*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

Ivy 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
Princeton* 4.865230038 37 4.640640948 38 5.387475822 35 4.416270338 42
Harvard* 4.488319935 48 4.79761309 33 5.065491205 45 3.885993245 54
Yale 3.357553441 95 3.357553441 83 3.357553441 109 3.357553441 80
Columbia 2.044213446 159 2.044213446 157 2.044213446 177 2.044213446 145
Penn* 1.98540872 165 2.498580045 126 2.172126133 171 1.778169836 161
Dartmouth -0.1343936808 290 -0.1343936808 282 -0.1343936808 300 -0.1343936808 282
Brown -0.1811186808 292 -0.1811186808 285 -0.1811186808 301 -0.1811186808 284
Cornell -0.7013048442 318 -0.7013048442 310 -0.7013048442 321 -0.7013048442 301
Average 1.965488547 175.5 2.040222971 164.25 2.126255355 182.375 1.808172888 168.625
Conference Rank 16th of 32 12th of 32 16th of 32 12th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

By and large, the eight Ivy teams did a rather good job of matching their non-conference schedules to their recent performance. Yale only over-scheduled by one spot—an impressive accomplishment for a top 100 mid-major team—while Columbia overdid things by eight places. The two worst offenders, Harvard and Penn, still managed to keep things respectable. The Crimson going 58 places over probably isn’t that big of a deal for a team considered the league favorite, but the Quakers’ 65-spot gap could result in more limited improvement for a squad that surprised at times last season.

Ivy 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
4 Yale 96 95 1
24 Columbia 167 159 8
71 Brown 266 292 -26
88 Dartmouth 256 290 -34
99 Princeton 76 37 39
105 Cornell 277 318 -41
139 Harvard 106 48 58
152 Penn 230 165 65
85.25 Average (2/32 conf.) 184.25 175.5 8.75

Ivy 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
42 1 18 8

Penn is the lone Ivy League team that will host a power conference foe—and this will remain the case as long as it hosts either Temple or Villanova each season. Looking at the other end of the opponent scale, Princeton was the lone Ivy squad that is not playing a non-D1 foe this season, until they added a game with Rowan late, while Yale, surprisingly, hosts two. Notably, the Ivy ranks 22nd out of 25 mid-major leagues in terms of home non-conference games and in a three-way tie for 17th when comparing the number of Power 7 road games along with the Patriot League and Sun Belt.

Ivy Non-Conference Games By League

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

Given the Ivy members’ commitment to academics, it’s not surprising that these eight teams play the bulk of their non-league games against other Northeastern squads. Conference-wide, there are no more than three games scheduled against any conference located outside of the Northeast, with nine conferences—mostly located in the South and West—that have no confirmed games against the Ivy League at all.

Ivy 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 5 1 6 0.75 0
26-50 0 5 1 6 0.75 2
51-75 1 6 0 7 0.875 2
76-100 4 4 1 9 1.125 3
101-150 8 8 0 16 2 2
151-200 2 6 1 9 1.125 4
201-250 4 8 0 12 1.5 1
251-300 4 5 0 9 1.125 4
301-351 11 12 0 23 2.875 0
Non-D1 9 0 0 9 1.125 0
Total 43 59 4 106
Average 5.375 7.375 0.5 13.25
Percentage 0.4056603774 0.5566037736 0.03773584906
Conference Rank (of 32) 26th 5th 31st

While Ivy members have avoided a drop into the depths of the rankings, the fact that roughly 20% of this season’s known non-conference matchups come against the bottom 50 is troublesome. Ultimately, those games could cause the league’s three main contenders’ at-large hopes, which are already slim, to evaporate entirely.

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.

37. Princeton Tigers

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6-7)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6-7)
BYU (51) None Middle Tennessee (81)* Miami (Fla.) (29) Butler (26)
Lafayette (314) USC (65) or (AmericanAirlines Arena) Saint Joseph's (107)
Lehigh (163) Akron (93)* Fairleigh Dickinson (296)
Monmouth (108) Miami (Fla.) (29) or George Washington (83)
Rowan (Non-D1) Davidson (78) or Cal Poly (243)
New Mexico State (86)* USC (65)*
(or Hawai'i) Hawai'i (149)
(or Miami, Davidson,
New Mexico State)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Lafayette, Cal Poly) and 4 losses (@BYU, @Lehigh, Saint Joseph’s, @Monmouth)

Mitch Henderson’s Tigers head into 2017-18 aiming to build on a successful 2016-17 campaign that nearly featured an NCAA upset win over Notre Dame at the very end. And with only two games on this slate coming against teams in the bottom half of my four-year rankings, Princeton has put itself in position to do the unthinkable—secure an at-large bid—if things break right.

However, with just four non-conference home games available, and several dangerous road trips (Butler, Miami, USC, and a deceptively good Diamond Head Classic) waiting, it seems more likely that the Tigers will struggle to match last season’s win total of 23—and need to win a pair of games at the Palestra on Selection Weekend to make consecutive March Madness trips.

48. Harvard Crimson

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9-10)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9-10)
MIT (Non-D1) None Saint Mary's (22)* None Holy Cross (247)
UMass (130) Saint Joseph's (107) or Manhattan (233)
Boston University (214) Washington State (183)* Cal State Fullerton (272)
Vermont (89) San Diego State (50) or (or San Diego State,
Georgia (54) or Georgia, Sacramento
Sacramento State (275) State)*
(or Cal State Fullerton)* Northeastern (138)
Kentucky (3)
Fordham (186)
George Washington (83)
Minnesota (64)
Wofford (145)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Fordham, Northeastern) and 4 losses (Holy Cross, @UMass, George Washington, @Vermont)

The preseason Ivy favorite will have a trio of opportunities to get on the national radar early. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Crimson will travel to Orange County for the Wooden Legacy. And if Tommy Amaker’s squad can somehow pick up a quarterfinal win over a Saint Mary’s squad that will push Gonzaga in the WCC, it will have a great chance to go 3-0. The second noteworthy event is a December trip to Rupp Arena to take on SEC favorite Kentucky. Finally, a road game at Minnesota will provide Harvard one last chance to grab a marquee win before Ivy play kicks into high gear.

95. Yale Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: CBE Hall Of Fame Classic (Visitor)

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
South Carolina State (334)* None None None Creighton (34)*
Curry (Non-D1) Wisconsin (12)*
Vermont (89) Albany (126)
Bryant (309) Alcorn State (328)*
Monmouth (108) Delaware (269)
Elms (Non-D1) TCU (69)
Lehigh (163)
St. Bonaventure (84)
Iona (98)
Kennesaw State (305)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Lehigh, Albany, @Sacred Heart, Delaware) and 2 losses (@Vermont, @Bryant)

Rebuilding Creighton and Wisconsin are the unlucky teams that drew the Bulldogs in the CBE Classic’s on-campus rounds—96th-ranked Yale is head and shoulders above the other three potential visitors, all of whom rank in the bottom 50 of my rankings. Of course, with the event’s format that pre-assigns teams to the main event in Kansas City, James Jones’s squad is stuck playing two of those strugglers. As a result, Yale is the only Division I team scheduled to visit Alcorn State during the non-conference season.

Beyond the two CBE power-conference matchups, the Bulldogs’ contests against Vermont, Monmouth (both at home), Albany, TCU, St. Bonaventure, and Iona (all away) could influence lines 12 through 14 of the March bracket.

159. Columbia Lions

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Quinnipiac (264) None None None Villanova (1)
Stony Brook (142) Longwood (341)
Navy (238) Penn State (95)
Maine (343) Army West Point (248)
Sarah Lawrence (Non-D1) Colgate (246)
Connecticut (55)
Albany (126)
Boston College (160)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (@Stony Brook, @Quinnipiac, Colgate, @Maine) and 3 losses (Army West Point, @Navy, Albany)

The Lions doubled their power conference road trips from last season from two (losses to Seton Hall and Miami) to four, including both a trip to Big East favorite Villanova and ACC bottom dweller Boston College. This slate won’t provide Columbia with many wins, but should prepare them to again duel Penn for the fourth and final spot in the Ivy Tournament.

165. Penn Quakers

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
La Salle (159) None Northern Illinois (184)* None Fairfield (232)
Navy (238) Towson (152) or Monmouth (108)
Penn State-Brandywine (Non-D1)* FAU (291)* Villanova (1)
Delaware State (338) Missouri State (188) or Howard (333)
Toledo (114) Georgia Southern (189) or Lafayette (314)
Temple (94) Manhattan (233) or Dayton (40)
Saint Joseph's (107) UMKC (251)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Lafayette, Fairfield, @La Salle) and 4 losses (@Navy, Villanova, @Temple, Saint Joseph’s)

The Quakers’ Big Five membership typically means that Penn will have one of the better non-conference schedules in the Ivy. And with La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, and Temple all expected to be better than they were last season (and Villanova remaining the odds-on Big East favorite), Steve Donahue’s squad will be well-tested before heading into Ivy play. Additionally, Penn joins the other three 2017 Ivy League Tournament (It’s still so weird to type that particular combination of words.) participants in playing in a tournament this fall, as the Quakers travel to Southwest Florida for the winnable Gulf Coast Showcase.

290. Dartmouth Big Green

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Emerson (Non-D1) None None None Quinnipiac (264)
Albany (126) Canisius (185)
Loyola (Md.) (293) Sacred Heart (304)
Bryant (309) Maine (343)
Vermont (89) UIC (302)
Notre Dame (21)
New Hampshire (220)
Boston College (160)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Bryant, New Hampshire) and 3 losses (@Boston College, @Vermont, Maine)

Curiously, Dartmouth’s three non-league wins all came in a 13-day span in late December—with two coming away from home! However, only two of those squads return to the Big Green’s 2017-18 slate. Naturally, there’s a New England flavor to this lineup, with the notable exception of a Midwestern swing that will see Dartmouth visit both UIC and Notre Dame.

The hope here is to build on last season’s three November/December wins, and if Dave McLaughlin’s squad develops quickly enough, maybe even approach the full season total of seven victories.

292. Brown Bears

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Johnson & Wales (R.I.) (Non-D1) None None None Quinnipiac (264)
LIU Brooklyn (288) St. Francis-Brooklyn (317)
Central Connecticut State (346) Stony Brook (142)
UMass Lowell (316) Bryant (309)
Marist (312) Rhode Island (56)
NJIT (249) Providence (43)
Northwestern (61)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 6 wins (Bryant, St. Francis Brooklyn, @Central Connecticut State, Johnson & Wales (R.I), Quinnipiac) and 5 losses (@Rhode Island, Marist (N), @Providence, Stony Brook, @NJIT)

With Brown skipping an exempt event this season (remember, the Ivy still follows by the two-in-four rule everyone else abandoned 11 seasons ago), the Bears will see a lot of familiar faces in their quest to improve upon last season’s total of 13 wins. The two biggest games will be the in-state ones, particularly since both Providence and Rhode Island are poised for big seasons. Can Brown play spoiler for a night or two?

318. Cornell Big Red

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Binghamton (331) None None None Syracuse (38)
Toledo (114) Colgate (246)
Lafayette (314) UMass Lowell (316)
Niagara (297) Duquesne (195)
Central Penn (Non-D1) Northeastern (138)
Longwood (341)
Delaware (269)
Auburn (122)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Lafayette, Northeastern) and 4 losses (@Binghamton, Colgate, @Syracuse, UMass Lowell)

Cornell’s non-conference slate is bookended by the traditional short trip to Syracuse and a rare Southern excursion to an Auburn squad that has NCAA potential (provided the ongoing FBI investigation isn’t too much of a distraction). Even with eight road games on the schedule, the Big Red could improve upon its 2016-17 non-conference win total of four. Then the question will be whether they can add to their identical 2017 Ivy victory total.

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