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Analyzing The CAA’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

As has been the case in recent seasons, the conference favorite, College of Charleston, might struggle to make an at-large case, thanks to its November and December slate.

NCAA Basketball: Charleston at Louisiana State
Where does CAA favorite Charleston rank in terms of non-conference scheduling? Read on to find out.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

While realignment has cost the CAA former powers like VCU, George Mason, and Old Dominion, the 10 current members are perfectly capable of holding their own nationally. In fact, a full 80 percent sit in the top half of the four-year rankings table. However, just one team, two-time defending CAA Tournament champion UNCW, ranks among the top 100. Still, that’s good enough to give the league the 13th spot nationally out of 32 Division I conferences.

CAA Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
UNCW 3.313651 91
William & Mary 2.3004358 113
Hofstra 1.1429805 132
College of Charleston 1.0743055 133
Northeastern 0.9717771 138
Towson 0.418895 152
Elon -0.3935673 170
James Madison -0.460986 173
Drexel -3.037618 242
Delaware -4.263101 269
Average 0.10667726 161.3
Conference Rank 13th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

If you look across the four categories, you’ll notice that not a single CAA non-conference slate cracks the top 100, with somewhere between 70 and 80 percent ranking in the bottom half nationally Even though Drexel is the only squad in the bottom 50 (and even then, in just three of the four tables), that widespread lack of schedule strength places the Colonial much closer to the bottom of the D1 conference ranking than the top.

*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

CAA Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Northeastern 2.88679424 104 2.88679424 115 2.88679424 129 2.88679424 98
Hofstra* 2.310884093 137 2.726588342 122 3.30654616 111 2.063526991 142
College of Charleston* 1.771581683 171 1.395914498 211 1.553553694 213 1.23261085 201
William & Mary 1.629690877 184 1.629690877 188 1.629690877 205 1.629690877 174
James Madison* 1.511913757 193 1.38665402 212 2.032639679 179 0.9278923846 219
UNC Wilmington 1.487122857 195 1.102316181 224 1.34963866 222 0.8549937021 226
Elon 0.7809282635 231 0.7809282635 241 0.7809282635 254 0.7809282635 228
Delaware 0.2765223577 260 0.2765223577 267 0.2765223577 278 0.2765223577 254
Towson* 0.2464642575 263 -0.2100482106 294 -0.0865392808 297 -0.3588143365 291
Drexel -0.6553754045 307 -0.4455237678 303 0.1297382538 284 -0.9866596212 319

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Seven CAA squads under-scheduled for 2017-18, with three teams expected to contend for the title—College of Charleston, UNCW, and Towson—leading the way. In the cases of the Cougars and Seahawks, that’s to be expected, as you can’t imagine they would attract many high-major opponents given their results over the past two seasons. On the other hand, the three teams that over-scheduled—Delaware, Hofstra, and Northeastern—didn’t really go overboard. In total, the CAA’s league-average schedule gap ranks smack dab in the middle of Division I.

CAA 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
8 Delaware 269 267 2
31 Hofstra 132 122 10
65 Northeastern 138 115 23
98 James Madison 173 212 -39
143 Drexel 242 303 -61
165 Elon 170 241 -71
174 William & Mary 113 188 -75
180 College of Charleston 133 211 -78
246 UNCW 91 224 -133
258 Towson 152 294 -142
136.8 Average (16/32 conf.) 161.3 217.7 -56.4

CAA 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
46 2 (+1 semi-home game for Hofstra) 12 15 (2 neutral, +1 possible GAS)

The two Power 7 home games come against teams from the opposite ends of that group—Delaware welcomes a Notre Dame squad helmed by former Blue Hen head coach Mike Brey, while Elon gets a visit from USF. But Brey isn’t the power conference coach who will be visiting old stomping grounds, as Villanova coach Jay Wright will travel to Long Island to take on Hofstra—but off-campus. Overall, the CAA ranks near the bottom of the mid-major conferences when looking both at the total of home games scheduled (20th of 25) and Power 7 road trips (22nd).

Both Delaware and Elon will play non-Division I squads as part of round-robin exempt events in Greensboro and Milwaukee, respectively.

CAA Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 16 1
MAAC 11 4
A 10 10 0
C-USA 8 3
SoCon 8 1
American Athletic 6 1
Big South 6 1
MEAC 5 1
Patriot 5 1
America East 4 1
Ivy 4 1
MVC 4 4
ACC 3 2
Horizon 3 0
MAC 3 3
Atlantic Sun 2 0
Big Ten 2 0
SEC 2 1
Sun Belt 2 2
Big 12 1 0
Big East 1 0
MW 1 0
NEC 1 0
Pac-12 1 1
Summit 1 0
WAC 1 2
Big Sky 0 2
Big West 0 1
OVC 0 0
Southland 0 1
SWAC 0 0
WCC 0 1

Given the CAA’s location along the Eastern Seaboard, it’s a bit disappointing that non-Division I foes top these standings. A lack of power conference games is also surprising, particularly since this conference is no longer filled with NCAA at-large contenders.

Strangely enough, the OVC is among the half-dozen leagues CAA members have no games scheduled against. That’s slightly unexpected since the two leagues’ footprints border each other, at least in the CAA’s southern reaches.

CAA 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 1 3 1 5 0.5 0
26-50 0 2 1 3 0.3 1
51-75 0 4 2 6 0.6 1
76-100 2 6 0 8 0.8 4
101-150 6 6 3 15 1.5 4
151-200 5 9 2 16 1.6 11
201-250 5 10 3 18 1.8 5
251-300 8 6 1 15 1.5 5
301-351 6 3 1 10 1 2
Non-D1 13 0 2 15 1 1
Total 46 49 16 111
Average 4.6 4.9 1.6 11.1
Percentage 0.4144144144 0.4414414414 0.1441441441
Conference Rank (of 32) 25th 17th 9th

Just 37 of the 111 known games on CAA schedules will come against teams in the top 150 of the four-year rankings. That’s the kind of scheduling that kept UNCW out of the at-large pool over the past couple of years and will likely do the same to College of Charleston this season.

Oddly enough, the CAA ranks in the top 10 nationally in percentage of games scheduled at neutral-sites. That keeps the conference’s ranking in the away game metric a bit lower than it should be, given the lack of home 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.

104. Northeastern Huskies

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

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Wentworth (Non-D1) None Utah State (125)* None Boston University (214)
Harvard (106) Furman (196)* Stanford (74)*
Cornell (277) Ohio State (46)*
Bucknell (128) Kent State (148)
Vermont (89) St. Bonaventure (84)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Boston University, Kent State, @Vermont) and 2 loss (@Cornell, @Harvard)

The Huskies’ November is highlighted by its PK80 participation, which not only features a detour to Nashville for two games but also a winnable trip to Ohio State, who lost a lot of talent after a disappointing 2016-17 season that led to Thad Matta’s resignation. However, Bill Coen’s squad should most look forward to the fact that the Ivy, Patriot, and America East favorites all visit Matthews Arena—and remember that Northeastern won in Burlington last December.

137. Hofstra Pride

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
Army West Point (248) Manhattan (233) Dayton (40)* Clemson (47)* Siena (169)
Kennesaw State (305) (Garden City, N.Y.) Ohio (127)* (or Ohio) Monmouth (108)
Molloy (Non-D1) Villanova (1) (or Clemson) Rider (212)
(Uniondale, N.Y.) Temple (94)* or Stony Brook (142)
Old Dominion (110)* or
Auburn (122)* or
Indiana State (174)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Stony Brook, Siena) and 1 loss (@Manhattan)

After a pair of 20-win seasons, Joe Mihalich’s Pride dropped below .500 last season, and a tricky November/December slate means Hofstra will likely have to do some heavy lifting in CAA play to break even this time. The Charleston Classic field might end up better than the ratings indicate (particularly Auburn and Temple), the four road games are all potentially rough, and Hofstra will only play in its own gym three times before league play starts. Jay Wright’s return is set for the renovated Nassau Coliseum, while the Pride will entertain Manhattan on Adelphi’s campus.

171. College of Charleston Cougars

*Exempt Event: GCI Great Alaska Shootout

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
Siena (169) Cal Poly (243)* Wichita State (10)
Western Carolina (268) Central Michigan (179) or Charlotte (203)
High Point (207) Sam Houston State (193)* Alaska Anchorage (Non-D1)
North Greenville (Non-D1) Cal State Bakersfield (139) or (or Cal State Bakersfield,
South Carolina State (334) Santa Clara (175) or Santa Clara, or Idaho)*
Idaho (229) Rhode Island (56)
(or Alaska Anchorage)* Coastal Carolina (180)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Coastal Carolina, @Western Carolina) and 0 losses

If the Cougars are going to have any hope of being considered for the at-large pool, they’ll need to split their two huge road games against Wichita State and Rhode Island at a minimum—and that’s a huge ask. Charleston must also avoid a slip-up the rest of the way, including in Anchorage, where Earl Grant’s squad will be favored to win the final Great Alaska Shootout.

184. William & Mary Tribe

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)
Hampton (280) None None None High Point (207)
Shenandoah (Non-D1) UCF (136)
Old Dominion (110) Savannah State (330)
Marshall (178) George Mason (157)
Milligan (Non-D1) Ohio State (46)
TCU (69)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Milligan, Savannah State, @Old Dominion) and 1 loss (@Hampton)

The Tribe were unable to extend their streak of 20-win campaigns to four—but Tony Shaver’s club did manage to win 17. William & Mary should be able to get off on the right foot against this schedule, which features eight winnable contests and three tricky power-league road matchups.

193. James Madison Dukes

*Exempt Event: Islands Of The Bahamas Showcase

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Bridgewater (Non-D1) None Northern Kentucky (222)* None Radford (255)
Old Dominion (110) Iona (98) or The Citadel (323)
Appalachian State (286) Weber State (177)* Richmond (80)
George Mason (157) Vermont (89) or FIU (259)
Charlotte (203) Coastal Carolina (180) or Florida (17)
Bradley (270) or
UTSA (301)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 5 losses (@Old Dominion, @George Mason, @Charlotte, @Appalachian State, Richmond)

Louis Rowe’s first season in Harrisonburg started badly, as the Dukes defeated just one Division I opponent in non-league play. While a surprising 3-0 start in CAA play provided some hope, JMU managed to win just five more times before bowing out in the conference quarterfinals. But there is good good news for a team that’s looking for more success—four squads that the Dukes lost to on the road in 2016 visit this season. On the other hand, JMU’s half of the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase bracket features three of the more dangerous teams in the field.

195. UNCW Seahawks

*Exempt Event: Savannah Invitational (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
North Carolina Wesleyan (Non-D1)* None Loyola of Chicago (140)* None Davidson (78)
Campbell (311) Valparaiso (68)* East Carolina (198)
Furman (196) North Dakota State (134) LSU (90)
Greensboro (Non-D1) (El Paso, Texas) UNC Greensboro (210)
Howard (333) UTEP (168)
(or UTEP) (or Howard)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Campbell, East Carolina) and 0 losses

UNCW was supposed to join Towson in playing in two bracketed events this season, but when Valparaiso joined Loyola of Chicago in the Valley, the Savannah Invitational altered its format to a pair of preset doubleheaders. Still, this is a slate that should ease the transition from Kevin Keatts to former North Carolina assistant C.B. McGrath.

231. Elon Phoenix

*Exempt Event: Black & Gold Shootout

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
William Peace (Non-D1)* None Concordia-St. Paul (Non-D1)* None Duke (9)
Radford (255) FIU (259)* Furman (196)
USF (267) Milwaukee (194)*
Saint Peter's (164) UNC Greensboro (210)
Boston University (214)
Canisius (185)
Indiana State (174)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (William Peace, @USF, FIU, @Saint Peter’s) and 2 losses (@Radford, Duke)

Last season, the Phoenix defeated three of their four 2017-18 non-league home opponents. Two of those victories coming away from Alumni Gym—and both of those squads head to Elon for the building’s final season. Like Delaware below, Elon will face two non-D1 squads in its exempt event. Unlike the Blue Hens, the Phoenix’s ACC test will come away from home—at Cameron Indoor. Yikes.

260. Delaware Blue Hens

*Exempt Event: UNCG Tournament

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Wesley (Non-D1)* None North Carollina Wesleyan (Non-D1)* None Richmond (80)
Yale (96) Longwood (341)* Bradley (270)
Buffalo (104) UNC Greensboro (210)*
Notre Dame (21) Navy (238)
Cal State Bakersfield (139) Delaware State (338)
Cornell (277)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Bradley, Delaware State) and 1 loss (@Yale)

The highlight of this schedule is obviously the visit of former head coach Mike Brey and his Notre Dame. But home games against NCAA contenders Yale, Buffalo, and Cal State Bakersfield make the Blue Hens’ home slate one of the most attractive in the CAA—and one that will provide challenges for a squad that’s attempting to build on last season’s 7-to-13-win improvement. Now, if only UD’s exempt event didn’t feature two non-D1 teams.

263. Towson Tigers

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
Frostburg State (Non-D1) None FAU (291)* None Old Dominion (110)
St. Mary's (Md.) (Non-D1) Northern Illinois (184) or Loyola (Md.) (293)
Morgan State (322) Penn (230)* Oakland (115)
UMBC (307) Missouri State (188) or Pittsburgh (53)
Georgia Southern (189) or
Manhattan (233) or
UMKC (251)*
La Salle (159)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Manhattan (233) or
Holy Cross (247)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Morgan State, Loyola (Md.), @UMBC) and 1 loss (Old Dominion)

After a 20-win campaign, the Tigers enter the season as Charleston’s most likely challenger for the CAA crown. While Towson should sweep its four home games, it will have to make a pair of tournament runs to really build its non-conference win total. Penn, Missouri State, and Georgia Southern are potential tests waiting at the Gulf Coast Showcase, while Manhattan is a possible final day opponent both in Estero and in Belfast. However, Pat Skerry’s team’s biggest tournament test might be La Salle in the semifinals of that Hall of Fame event, which will be the second Division I game played in Europe.

307. Drexel Dragons

*Exempt Event: Paradise Jam

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5-6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5-6)
Bowling Green (211) None Houston (72)* None Liberty (289)
Arcadia (Non-D1)* Mercer (151) (or Mercer)*
Lafayette (314) (or Liberty)* NJIT (249)
Rider (212) Colorado (60) or La Salle (159)
Quinnipiac (264) Wake Forest (66) or Robert Morris (262)
Drake (260) or Temple (94)
Quinnipiac (264)* Loyola (Md.) (293)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@Lafayette, @Quinnipiac) and 2 losses (La Salle, @Rider)

Like Martin Inglesby at Delaware, Zack Spiker heads into his second season on the DAC sideline looking to build on an improved win total—though the Dragons’ three-win jump was more modest. Six of those victories came in November and December, and it will be difficult to equal that total this year. For starters, the road trips are tougher, as is the exempt event (the relocated Paradise Jam vs. a Rutgers-anchored round-robin). Note that Drexel could meet Quinnipiac twice—on the third day of the Paradise Jam and then again in Philadelphia.

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