clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

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

Thanks in part to Wofford’s new arena, the Southern Conference boasts a pair of top 40 non-conference schedules.

NCAA Basketball: Wofford vs Miami
Mike Young’s Wofford Terriers welcome two Power 7 teams to their new arena this season.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

The competition at the top of the SoCon over the past few seasons is paying off, as three squads sit among the top 150 of the four-year rankings with newcomer Mercer just outside and rising Furman edging into the top 200. On the other end of the scale, three teams find themselves among the ranks of the bottom 100, with the two military institutions in the bottom 50.

SoCon Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
ETSU 1.7608585 121
Chattanooga 1.58420057 124
Wofford 0.6101695 145
Mercer 0.4442415 151
Furman -1.3270917 196
UNC Greensboro -1.7439195 210
Samford -2.3986743 225
Western Carolina -4.209743 268
VMI -6.6440565 318
The Citadel -7.24775 323
Average -1.917176493 208.1
Conference Rank 19th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

On average, the SoCon cracks the top 10 in three of the four scheduling categories, thanks to a pair of top 40 slates and five in the upper half of Division I. Of the remaining five, only Chattanooga owns a slate that ranks among D1’s absolute worst. However, the Mocs avoided the bottom 50 in the Known Schedule table.

*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

SoCon 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
Western Carolina* 5.080544423 31 5.947396833 13 5.285520327 36 4.875568519 27
Wofford 4.857166742 38 4.857166742 30 4.857166742 51 4.857166742 29
Furman 3.821151485 70 3.821151485 61 3.821151485 86 3.821151485 57
UNC Greensboro 2.2310964 148 2.2310964 143 2.2310964 169 2.2310964 132
ETSU 1.896903567 170 1.896903567 167 1.896903567 188 1.896903567 156
Samford 1.717413781 181 1.717413781 177 1.717413781 199 1.717413781 168
The Citadel* 1.480473992 202 2.042301514 158 1.589223179 210 1.371724804 194
Mercer* 0.8086609418 239 0.5334155136 249 1.612574512 208 0.0388735404 270
VMI 0.3770966659 262 0.3770966659 256 0.3770966659 275 0.3770966659 249
Chattanooga* -0.6951481962 317 -0.2695308875 290 -0.5463509577 316 -0.8439454346 311
Average 2.15753598 165.8 2.315441161 154.4 2.28417957 173.8 2.034305007 159.3
Conference Rank 9th of 32 6th of 32 12th of 32 8th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Just three SoCon squads under-scheduled for 2017-18, with Chattanooga the biggest offender with a 193-place gap. Everyone else over-scheduled to some degree, with Western Carolina building itself the most difficult early season slate relative to its recent performances by a whopping 237 places. Samford, at the other end of the scale, only overdid things by a respectable 44 spots.

SoCon 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
110 Samford 225 181 44
122 ETSU 121 170 -49
134 VMI 318 262 56
147 UNC Greensboro 210 148 62
196 Mercer 151 239 -88
213 Wofford 145 38 107
232 The Citadel 323 202 121
238 Furman 196 70 126
304 Chattanooga 124 317 -193
326 Western Carolina 268 31 237
202.2 Average (11/32 conf.) 208.1 165.8 42.3

SoCon 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
61 2 27 23

Wofford opens a new arena this season and the Terriers will welcome a pair of Power 7 foes as part of the celebrations. But they’ll also visit a trio of top teams, a figure that’s more typical for a SoCon member. Each squad will play an average of six home games, which is almost ideal (10th out of the 25 mid-major leagues), but a third of those will come against non-D1 foes (good for ninth), which is not.

SoCon Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 23 0
Big South 17 0
ACC 12 1
CAA 8 1
SEC 7 0
A 10 6 0
Sun Belt 6 0
MEAC 5 1
OVC 5 1
American Athletic 4 1
SWAC 4 1
C-USA 3 0
Horizon 3 0
Atlantic Sun 3 0
Big East 2 0
Big Ten 2 0
MVC 2 1
America East 1 1
Big 12 1 0
Ivy 1 0
MAAC 1 2
MAC 1 0
MW 1 0
Pac-12 1 1
Patriot 1 1
Southland 1 0
Summit 1 0
Big Sky 0 0
Big West 0 0
NEC 0 0
WAC 0 0
WCC 0 0

And indeed, those 23 games lead the way when compared to the contests SoCon teams have scheduled against the other 31 D1 conferences. There appears to be more room for regional contests with just 14 total matchups between the Southern Conference and a pair of regional mid-major conferences—the CAA and Sun Belt.

SoCon 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 0.7 0
26-50 1 8 0 9 0.9 0
51-75 1 10 0 11 1.1 3
76-100 1 6 0 7 0.7 0
101-150 6 7 3 16 1.6 0
151-200 4 5 0 9 0.9 0
201-250 7 4 2 13 1.3 1
251-300 4 6 0 10 1 5
301-351 12 5 0 17 1.7 3
Non-D1 23 0 0 23 2.3 0
Total 59 58 5 122
Average 5.9 5.8 0.5 12.2
Percentage 0.4836065574 0.4754098361 0.04098360656
Conference Rank (of 32) 15th 13th 28th

If you take out the non-D1 games, which account for nearly 40 percent of SoCon home contests, there’s a surprisingly reasonable distribution in this breakdown, at least for a mid-major conference. These 10 teams will play 50 games against top 150 opponents, 32 against the next 150, and just 17 against the bottom 51. While the league ranks 28th of the 32 D1 conferences in terms of neutral-site games, it’s at near parity of home and road contests. However, that wouldn’t be the case if all of the non-D1 games were eliminated.

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 The Citadel (Wikipedia).

31. Western Carolina Catamounts

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6-7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6-7)
Hiwassee (Non-D1) None UT Arlington (109)* UNC Asheville (143) Clemson (47)
Appalachian State (286) Alabama A&M (344) (U.S. Cellular Arena) Cincinnati (20)
Southern Wesleyan (Non-D1) (or Niagara)* Minnesota (64)*
High Point (207) UMass (130)*
Niagara (297)
(or Alabama A&M)*
College of Charleston (133)
North Carolina (6)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Hiwassee, @Appalachian State, High Point) and 2 losses (@UNC Asheville, College of Charleston)

The Catamounts tumbled from 16 wins to nine last season, thanks in no small part to injuries and a brutal non-league schedule. While Larry Hunter’s squad could get back in the title hunt in 2018, they’ll have to survive a highly challenging November and December first. A quartet of truly brutal Power 7 road games and drawing UT Arlington in the semifinals of the Barclays Center Classic subregional sure won’t help pad the win total. WCU fans have to hope the payoff comes in March.

38. Wofford Terriers

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational On The Mainland

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
South Carolina (45) None High Point (207) None California (49)*
Washington & Lee (Non-D1)* (Asheville, N.C.) Texas Tech (58)
Bob Jones (Non-D1)* UNC Asheville (143)
North Florida (209)* Coastal Carolina (180)
Georgia Tech (73) North Carolina (6)
Johnson & Wales (N.C.) (Non-D1)
Harvard (106)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Coastal Carolina) and 1 loss (@Georgia Tech)

With two Power 7 foes, Harvard, and a trio of non-Division I foes heading to Richardson Indoor Stadium for its inaugural season, Wofford certainly has one of the more, uh, varied home slates in the country. (Yes, ‘varied.’ That’s the word I’m looking for.) Curiously, Mount St. Mary’s will head to Spartanburg to play North Florida in the Maui on the Mainland event, but the Mountaineers won’t play Wofford while they’re in Spartanburg. Instead, Mike Young’s squad will play a pair of non-D1 teams as part of their participation. But when you consider the three power league road games the Terriers are playing, maybe scheduling a couple more wins isn’t a bad idea for a team that finished just below .500 a season ago.

70. Furman Paladins

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

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
Bob Jones (Non-D1) None New Hampshire (220)* None Butler (26)*
Elon (170) (Nashville) Duke (9)*
Winthrop (144) Northeastern (138)* UNCW (91)
Tennessee Tech (245) (Nashville) Tennessee (62)
UNC Asheville (143)
South Carolina State (334)
Montreat (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Tennessee Tech) and 3 losses (UNC Asheville, @Winthrop, South Carolina State)

Niko Medved built the Paladins into a SoCon contender, but he’s moved on to the Missouri Valley and Drake. So it’s up to Bob Richey to try to get Furman into March Madness. And since he only has to replace one senior, another 20-plus win campaign is possible in Greenville. However, given the lineup of road and neutral games—especially the four PK80 contests—Furman might head into league play with a similar mark to the 7-6 one it owned in late December last year.

148. UNC Greensboro Spartans

*Exempt Event: UNCG Spartan Classic

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
North Carolina Wesleyan (Non-D1)* None None None Virginia (2)
Ferrum (Non-D1)* Wake Forest (66)
Delaware (269)* Presbyterian (349)
Longwood (341)* Liberty (289)
Elon (170) North Carolina State (67)
UNCW (91)
UNC Asheville (143)
Southeastern (Fla.) (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Presbyterian, Liberty, @UNC Asheville) and 2 losses (Virginia, Wake Forest)

Last season, the Spartans won 25 games and reached the NIT. They also lost home games to Virginia and Wake Forest—two teams they’ll face away from the Coliseum this time around. Wes Miller saw two of his key performers from last season graduate, so UNCG will hope the eight-game home schedule, featuring a trio of non-D1 foes and a round-robin exempt event, helps push the returnees back toward contention.

170. ETSU Buccaneers

*Exempt Event: Adolph Rupp Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Delaware State (338)* None None None Northern Kentucky (222)
Troy (228)* Savannah State (330)
Fort Wayne (141)* Kentucky (3)*
Northern Kentucky (222) Fordham (186)
Hiwassee (Non-D1) Xavier (25)
Georgia Southern (189) Detroit Mercy (237)
Tusculum (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Fordham, Detroit Mercy, Savannah State) and 0 losses

Steve Forbes’s Bucs won 27 games a season ago and reached the NCAA Tournament, but like so many of last season’s SoCon contenders, many of their top performers have moved on. Forbes wisely scheduled seven home games to help his remodeled squad adjust, but unlike the Mocs, ETSU faces a pair of daunting Power 7 road trips early on—at Kentucky as part of the Wildcats’ multi-team event and at Xavier.

181. Samford Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Savannah Invitational (Visitors’ Bracket)

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)
Alabama A&M (344) None None None Arkansas (42)
Southeastern Louisiana (298)* LSU (90)
Mississippi Valley State (347)* Loyola of Chicago (140)*
Thomas (Ga.) (Non-D1) Valparaiso (68)*
Asbury (Non-D1) Jacksonville State (258)
Memphis (79)
Clemson (47)
Kennesaw State (305)

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

The Bulldogs won 20 games in Scott Padgett’s third year in charge and should be poised to challenge for the SoCon crown in his fourth. Samford is banking on road tests—particularly trips to Arkansas, Valparaiso, and Clemson—to prepare a roster full of holdovers for a title run.

202. The Citadel Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (Mainland Only)

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)
Oglethorpe (Non-D1)* None None None Virginia Tech (75)
Trinity Baptist (Non-D1)* North Carolina A&T (348)
Marist (312) High Point (207)
Army West Point (248) or Florida State (36)*
UMBC (307) Campbell (311)
James Madison (173) Ohio State (46)
Point (Non-D1)

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

Seven of the Citadel’s 12 wins in Duggar Baucom’s second season came during the non-conference. However, none of those opponents appear on this schedule. Three Power 7 road games, highlighted by a Jamaica Classic Mainland game at Florida State, and a home tournament featuring Marist, UMBC, and Army West Point are the standout contests on the 2017 version of the Bulldogs’ non-league slate.

239. Mercer Bears

*Exempt Event: Paradise Jam

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Toccoa Falls (Non-D1) None Houston (72) or None Liberty (289)*
Jackson State (310) Drexel (242)* UCF (136)
Hiwassee (Non-D1) Colorado (60) or Tennessee (62)
Florida A&M (351) Wake Forest (66) or Memphis (79)
Drake (260) or La Salle (159)
Quinnipiac (264)* Alabama (59)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 1 loss (La Salle)

The Bears will be loaded with seniors ready to finish their careers with an NCAA berth—and that’s a possibility even when you consider that Bob Hoffman’s team won just 15 times a season ago and finished at .500 in league play. But six challenging road games, including the late addition of one at Liberty thanks to the Paradise Jam’s unfortunate relocation, should more than prepare Mercer for the SoCon grind.

262. VMI Keydets

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)
Presbyterian (349) None None None North Carolina State (67)
Ohio Valley (Non-D1) Duquesne (195)
Radford (255) American (283)
Longwood (341) Charleston Southern (292)
Southern Wesleyan (Non-D1) Davidson (78)
VCU (35)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Charleston Southern) and 2 losses (@Presbyterian, @Radford)

The Keydets defeated just one Division I non-conference foe en route to a six-win season—a drop of three victories from Dan Earl’s first season in charge. Charleston Southern is back on this schedule, so there’s hope for a repeat, though the rematch takes place in South Carolina. There’s also the chance to avenge a road loss to Presbyterian—one of just five games the Blue Hose won last season.

That’s all I’ve got.

Wait. Longwood’s visit is another potential win.

That’s really it this time.

317. Chattanooga Mocs

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Hiwassee (Non-D1) None None None Wyoming (131)
Alabama State (327)* UAB (147)*
Jacksonville State (258) or Akron (93)
Savannah State (330)* Marshall (178)
Tennessee Wesleyan (Non-D1) Tennessee Tech (245)
UT Martin (227) Jacksonville State (258)
Charlotte (203)
Georgia State (117)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Hiwassee, Tennessee Wesleyan, Marshall, Jacksonville State) and 0 losses

Despite the facts that the Mocs lost their final five games and didn’t appear in any postseason tournament, Matt McCall was still able to jump up the mid-major ladder by leaving for UMass. That leaves Lamont Paris to pick up the pieces and rebuild—and that verb is accurate since Chattanooga’s top five performers all graduated. But with seven home games, including a pair of Cayman Islands Classic Mainland bracket contests, and no power conference opposition lined up, the Mocs newcomers should be able to use November and December to adjust, learn, and win.

Be sure to follow @ChrisDobbertean on Twitter and to like Blogging the Bracket on Facebook .