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Analyzing The Big West’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

A familiar name tops the conference’s schedule rankings for the upcoming season. However, there’s a wide gap between the Big West’s best and worst non-league slates.

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at UC Irvine
As usual, Long Beach State leads the way when it comes to non-conference scheduling in the Big West.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

Last season, the Big West was KenPom’s 29th-ranked conference, with six teams sinking to the bottom 100. As a result, two-thirds of league members now rank outside of the top 200 of the four-year program ranking, while the league itself ranks 20th nationally. UC Irvine and Hawai’i sit near the cut lines of the top 100 and 150, respectively.

Big West Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
UC Irvine 2.759381 100
Hawai'i 0.509972 149
Long Beach State 0.304329 156
UC Santa Barbara -1.4971515 201
UC Davis -2.038361 218
Cal Poly -3.050196 243
Cal State Northridge -4.171213 265
Cal State Fullerton -4.3908985 272
UC Riverside -4.5006235 274
Average -1.786084611 208.6666667
Conference Rank 20th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

Big West teams either scheduled well—with four ranking in the top 100 across all four categories—or poorly—as the other five reside, with limited exception, in the bottom half of Division I. Not surprisingly, Long Beach State, which has earned plenty of attention for its non-conference slates in Dan Monson’s 10 seasons in charge, leads the way. However, defending Big West Tournament champ UC Davis brings up the rear in 2017. The Aggies and Cal State Northridge find themselves in the bottom 50 nationally in all four tables below.

*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

Big West 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
Long Beach State* 5.755767894 15 6.022995329 11 6.624965397 11 5.070754225 22
Cal State Fullerton* 3.755561586 72 4.067973322 52 4.712449268 56 2.936747602 94
UC Irvine* 3.69213553 77 4.226930848 49 3.739706553 90 3.644564506 67
Cal Poly* 3.617524104 83 4.300848358 47 3.752643414 89 3.477549548 76
UC Santa Barbara* 1.696004162 183 1.8998491 165 1.74442153 198 1.647586793 172
UC Riverside 1.448564023 207 1.448564023 198 1.448564023 220 1.448564023 189
Hawai'i* 0.2190771404 270 -0.4834844091 298 0.3081667692 277 0.1147029615 263
Cal State Northridge* -0.8858908168 326 -0.5961497931 304 -0.800373165 327 -0.9714084686 318
UC Davis* -0.9969260996 327 -0.6417801313 305 -0.7945778809 325 -1.199274318 329
Average 2.03353528 173.3333333 2.249527405 158.7777778 2.303996212 177 1.796642986 170
Conference Rank 14th of 32 7th of 32 11th of 32 13th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Only the conference’s last two NCAA reps, UC Davis and Hawai’i, under-scheduled heading into this season. The other seven squads overdid things by margins ranging from small (UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine) to medium (UC Riverside) to large (Cal State Fullerton).

Big West 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
50 UC Santa Barbara 201 183 18
64 UC Irvine 100 77 23
144 Cal State Northridge 265 326 -61
154 UC Riverside 274 207 67
218 UC Davis 218 327 -109
231 Hawai'i 149 270 -121
257 Long Beach State 156 15 141
285 Cal Poly 243 83 160
308 Cal State Fullerton 272 72 200
190.1111111 Average (8/32 conf.) 208.6666667 173.3333333 35.33333333

Big West 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
53 3 (+2 possible in MTEs) 20 (+1 possible semi-road game in MTEs) 18

Thanks to both Hawai’i and Cal State Fullerton hosting ESPN Events-owned tournaments, the Big West has two home quarterfinals against Power 7 teams on its collective schedule already, with the potential of two further contests if things break right for the Rainbow Warriors and Titans. On the flip side, Long Beach State, who hosts Stanford to account for the third guaranteed power conference home game, might play UCF in the the Knights’ backyard over Thanksgiving weekend.

Note that Hawai’i accounts for nearly one-fourth of the Big West’s scheduled home games, as the league joins the Big Sky and MEAC in a three-way tie for 17th in the mid-major home game rankings (out of 25 conferences). Like the America East, the Big West will play 20 Power 7 road games, which ranks 15th among the group, while the conference’s 18 non-D1 games puts it squarely in the middle of the mid-major pack.

Big West Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
WCC 18 2
Non-D1 18 1
Big Sky 16 5
Pac-12 15 3
MW 9 1
WAC 9 2
Summit 4 1
SEC 3 0
SWAC 3 0
ACC 2 0
Big 12 2 1
Big Ten 2 1
MEAC 2 2
Sun Belt 2 0
A 10 1 2
American Athletic 1 1
CAA 1 0
Ivy 1 2
MAAC 1 1
MAC 1 2
MVC 1 0
OVC 1 0
Southland 1 1
America East 0 1
Atlantic Sun 0 0
Big East 0 1
Big South 0 1
C-USA 0 1
Horizon 0 0
NEC 0 0
Patriot 0 0
SoCon 0 0

There are no real surprises here, as the five other Division I conferences that occupy the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones dominate Big West slates, with some of the country’s easternmost loops absent entirely. It would be nice to see more Big West vs. Mountain West and WAC games, however, if only to potentially cut down on non-D1 contests.

Big West 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 7 0 7 0.7777777778 2
26-50 1 8 0 9 1 1
51-75 3 4 0 7 0.7777777778 1
76-100 2 2 0 4 0.4444444444 6
101-150 6 10 2 18 2 6
151-200 2 12 0 14 1.555555556 5
201-250 7 5 1 13 1.444444444 2
251-300 4 8 3 15 1.666666667 4
301-351 6 4 0 10 1.111111111 4
Non-D1 18 0 0 18 2 1
Total 49 60 6 115
Average 5.444444444 6.666666667 0.6666666667 12.77777778
Percentage 0.4260869565 0.5217391304 0.05217391304
Conference Rank (of 32) 23rd 8th 25th

Hawai’i’s Diamond Head Classic quarterfinal against Miami is the Big West’s only Top 50 home game this season. Not surprisingly, all but 27 known non-conference matchups come against teams from outside the top 100, but at least a mere 24 come against teams in the bottom 101.

The fact two Big West teams host exempt events this season reduces the number of neutral-site opportunities available to them.

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.

15. Long Beach State 49ers

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (8)
San Francisco State (Non-D1) None Missouri (150)* UCF (136) San Francisco (129)
Fresno State (116) St. John's (102) or (or West Virginia, Oregon State (135)
Stanford (74) Oregon State (135)* Nebraska, Marist)* West Virginia (11)*
Eastern Michigan (137) West Virginia (11) or Arizona (7)
Texas A&M International (Non-D1) Nebraska (88) or Southern Utah (340)
Marist (312) Pepperdine (192)
(or UCF)* Michigan State (16)
Colorado State (92)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Pepperdine, Oregon State (N), Colorado State) and 1 loss (Eastern Michigan)

The 49ers 2017-18 non-conference slate isn’t quite as rigorous as 2016-17’s version, which led to a nine-game losing streak early in the season and a 5-11 mark heading into Big West play. But games at West Virginia, Arizona, and Michigan State, a rare visit from Stanford, and an intriguing AdvoCare Invitational trip mean Dan Monson’s team will again be adequately tested before conference play tips off.

72. Cal State Fullerton Titans

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Bethesda (Non-D1) None None None USC (65)
Georgia (54)* Saint Mary's (22)
San Diego State (50) or Portland (215)
Sacramento State (275)* California (49)
Saint Mary's (22) or Loyola Marymount (205)
Harvard (106) or Utah Valley (254)
Saint Joseph's (107) or
Washington State (183)*
Cal Lutheran (Non-D1)
Utah Valley (254)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Portland, Bethesda) and 0 losses

A new four-year cycle for the Wooden Legacy couldn’t have come at a better time for the Titans, a team poised to build on 2016-17’s 17-win campaign. If Fullerton can knock off Georgia in the quarterfinals, matchups with San Diego State, Saint Mary’s, Harvard, and Saint Joseph’s—NCAA hopefuls all—could follow. On the other hand, Dedrique Taylor’s squad is already scheduled to play the Gaels in Moraga, with other key road games taking the Titans to USC and California. Fullerton will also face WAC sleeper Utah Valley in a home-and-home series.

77. UC Irvine Anteaters

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
Chapman (Non-D1) None Rider (212)* None South Dakota State (119)
Whittier (Non-D1) Hampton (280) or Denver (187)
Nevada (112) Northern Arizona (319)* Kansas State (41)*
New Mexico State (86) Arizona State (85)*
UCLA (28)
Utah State (125)
UTRGV (335)
Saint Mary's (22)
Montana (166)
Idaho (229)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (South Dakota State) and 4 losses (Utah State, @Saint Mary’s, @Nevada, @New Mexico State)

Like their rivals from Davis, the Anteaters will be favored in the visitors’ bracket of a Las Vegas event, though the semifinal game against Rider might turn out to be more of a test than what’s to follow on Black Friday. UC Irvine’s limited home slate features two 2017 NCAA teams in New Mexico State and Nevada, while a full 40% of the road games feature teams that danced. Even with the two non-D1 games, this is a schedule worthy of a team expected to challenge for postseason honors.

83. Cal Poly Mustangs

*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 (6-7)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6-7)
Holy Names (Non-D1) None College of Charleston (133)* None Stanford (74)
Pepperdine (192) Central Michigan (179) or California (49)
Fresno State (116) Sam Houston State (193)* Santa Clara (175)*
Princeton (76) Cal State Bakersfield (139) or Alaska Anchorage (Non-D1)
Notre Dame de Namur (Non-D1) Santa Clara (175) or (or Cal State Bakersfield,
Idaho (229) Santa Clara, or Idaho)*
(or Alaska Anchorage)* Bethune Cookman (337)
SMU (15)
UT Arlington (109)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 4 losses (@Pepperdine, @Fresno State, @California, @Princeton)

While the Mustangs managed to defeat three D1 squads during their 2016 non-conference seasons, none of them return to this season’s schedule. So Cal Poly will attempt to build on that number, and 2016-17’s total of 11 victories, against a brutal slate that features three power conference road trips, an excursion to the final Great Alaska Shootout, and contests against two of the top mid-major programs in the land—Princeton and UT Arlington.

183. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

*Exempt Event: Legends Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
North Dakota State (134) Montana (166) or None None Pittsburgh (53)*
Prairie View A&M (326) Oral Roberts (216)* Texas A&M (44)*
San Diego (221) Pepperdine (192)*
Omaha (176) San Francisco (129)
San Diego Christian (Non-D1) Montana State (276)
Pacific Union (Non-D1) USC (65)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 3 losses (Omaha, @USC, @San Diego)

UCSB saw a 13-game decline between Bob Williams’s penultimate and final seasons in charge, and new coach Joe Pasternack will attempt to pick up the pieces, starting with a sneakily difficult slate of 13 non-league games. While the Gauchos will have to travel for all four of their Legends Classic games, at least the visitors’ bracket is set for nearby Pepperdine. USC joins Texas A&M as ranking as the toughest road trips, while the Summit double act of North Dakota State and Omaha are likely to be the two best teams to visit the Thunderdome.

207. UC Riverside Highlanders

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Portland State (257) None None None California (49)
Western New Mexico (Non-D1) Loyola Marymount (205)
Pacific (231) Michigan (27)
Air Force (234) Grand Canyon (172)
Valparaiso (68) Pepperdine (192)
UC Merced (Non-D1) Montana (166)
Utah Valley (254)
Seattle (281)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Grand Canyon) and 2 losses (Montana, Utah Valley)

After two straight 14-win seasons, the Highlanders slipped back in 2017, winning just eight, with a surprising win over Grand Canyon being the Highlanders’ only Division I victory outside of league play. While the ‘Lopes are back on the schedule (and UCR has to head to Phoenix to play them), most of last season’s opponents didn’t return. However, that doesn’t mean things will be any easier—especially with a visit from Valparaiso and trips to Michigan and Cal on the agenda.

270. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (12) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (12) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (345)* None None None Utah (24)
North Dakota (223)*
Troy (228)*
Nevada (112)
Adams State (Non-D1)
Prairie View A&M (326)
Hawai'i-Hilo (Non-D1)
Utah Valley (254)
Miami (Fla.) (29)*
Davidson (78) or
New Mexico State (86)
USC (65) or
Princeton (76) or
Middle Tennessee (81) or
Akron (93)*
Howard (333)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Hawai’i-Hilo, Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and 2 losses (Troy, Utah)

Evan Ganot’s team was unable to build upon 2016 NCAA Tournament win over Cal thanks to sanctions, including a postseason ban, that were overturned just before March Madness. A home schedule featuring a loaded Diamond Head Classic, a visit from Mountain West favorite Nevada, and eight winnable contests should get the Rainbow Warriors ready for a charge at earning a second bid in three years.

326. Cal State Northridge Matadors

*Exempt Event: Cancun Challenge (Visitors’ Bracket)

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)
Life Pacific (Non-D1) None Southeast Missouri (285)* None Fresno State (116)*
Loyola Marymount (205) Montana State (276) or George Mason (157)*
Idaho State (320) Binghamton (331)* California (49)
Morgan State (322) Montana (166)
Idaho State (320)
Eastern Washington (181)
Sacramento State (275)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Idaho State, Morgan State) and 1 loss (Loyola Marymount)

After winning 17 games in his first season in charge, Reggie Theus has only averaged 10 in seasons two through four. That number could rise in 2017-18, thanks in no small part to a more manageable non-conference schedule than 2016’s gauntlet that saw the Matadors win just three D1 games. For starters, the Cancun Challenge won’t quite be as challenging of a tournament as last season’s Wooden Legacy, while Pac-12 road games against UCLA and Stanford have been replaced by one against rebuilding California.

CSUN faces five Big Sky opponents alone, including a home-and-home with Idaho State, though that number could rise to six if the Matadors meet Montana State in Mexico.

327. UC Davis Aggies

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (7)
Northern Colorado (295) None Lamar (299)* Sacramento State (275) Northern Colorado (295)
Pacific (231) Radford (255) or (Golden 1 Center) Pacific (231)
William Jessup (Non-D1) North Carolina A&T (348)* Utah Valley (254)
Holy Names (Non-D1) Washington (103)
Washington State (183)
San Francisco (129)*
Nevada (112)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Holy Names, Sacramento State (N), William Jessup, Utah Valley) and 0 losses

The defending Big West Tournament champions’ schedule features not one, but two home-and-home non-league series—with Northern Colorado and Pacific. It also includes trips to the two teams likely to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 and a pair of winnable Las Vegas Classic visitors’ bracket games. This is a slate that could very well set the Aggies up for a title defense.

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