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

Mid-major non-conference scheduling can be a challenge. It’s one league power FGCU faced proactively this year. While the Eagles don’t have the ASUN’s top schedule, they do have a more appropriate one for their goals for the new season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Florida State vs Florida Gulf Coast
FGCU’s Joe Dooley built a non-conference schedule that should be a model for mid-majors going forward.
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

FGCU, the ASUN’s most consistent winner, is the only conference members ranking among Division I’s top half in the four-year rankings. The tenuous positions of Lipscomb, NJIT, and USC Upstate in the Top 250 means that the ASUN is perilously close to having 60 percent of its membership in the bottom 100—and the presence of three in the bottom 50 makes elevating the league’s metrics difficult enough already.

ASUN Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
FGCU 0.607996 146
North Florida -1.7416892 209
Lipscomb -3.0135771 240
NJIT -3.5950805 249
USC Upstate -3.61326263 250
Kennesaw State -5.8288585 305
Jacksonville -6.002452 306
Stetson -7.40461 325
Average -3.823941741 253.75
Conference Rank 26th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

With none of its eight squads participating in a bracketed tournament, the ASUN is the only league with a completely set non-conference slate. And given the stability of these lineups, it’s not surprising the conference ranks in the top half of Division I in the Known Schedule and Minimum Schedule rankings but lower in the Average and Maximum ones.

While two teams, Jacksonville and Stetson, have schedules in the bottom 50 nationally, five teams rank among the top half of D1. However, only North Florida ranks within the top 100—and among the top 20 in three of the four 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

ASUN 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
North Florida 5.678815743 17 5.678815743 16 5.678815743 27 5.678815743 10
Lipscomb 3.212109572 104 3.212109572 89 3.212109572 116 3.212109572 84
Kennesaw State 2.543842569 130 2.543842569 124 2.543842569 143 2.543842569 114
FGCU 2.17586465 149 2.17586465 145 2.17586465 170 2.17586465 139
USC Upstate 1.884700432 173 1.884700432 168 1.884700432 190 1.884700432 157
NJIT 0.7450700683 245 0.7450700683 237 0.7450700683 260 0.7450700683 232
Jacksonville -0.8566965824 325 -0.8566965824 319 -0.8566965824 328 -0.8566965824 312
Stetson -1.05420266 329 -1.05420266 324 -1.05420266 332 -1.05420266 321
Average 1.791187974 184 1.791187974 177.75 1.791187974 195.75 1.791187974 171.125
Conference Rank 18th of 32 14th of 32 22nd of 32 14th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

While the Ospreys lead the way in terms of building a difficult schedule, FGCU is a shining example of how a mid-major contender should put its November and December slate together. Yes, the Eagles are one of three ASUN teams that under-scheduled, but they did so by just three spots. At the other end of the competitive spectrum, Stetson and NJIT also managed to do well in terms of scheduling to their recent performance, as did Jacksonville. However, UNF’s over-scheduling results in the Ospreys owning the largest gap in the conference—the worst of three that extend into triple digits.

ASUN 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
9 FGCU 146 149 -3
11 Stetson 325 329 -4
12 NJIT 249 245 4
53 Jacksonville 306 325 -19
178 USC Upstate 250 173 77
251 Lipscomb 240 104 136
293 Kennesaw State 305 130 175
302 North Florida 209 17 192
138.625 Average (21/32 conf.) 253.75 184 69.75

ASUN Home, Power Conference, And 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
60 2 25 25

As one of Division I’s lower-prestige conferences, the ASUN hits the perfecta of scheduling issues—many road games, relatively few home games, and a high percentage of home games against teams from outside the D1 ranks. Curiously, Stetson gets both Sunshine State American Athletic squads—USF and UCF—to visit DeLand this season. Therefore, the Hatters account for the entirety of the league’s Power 7 home games.

ASUN Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against
Non-D1 25
OVC 10
Big Ten 7
C-USA 7
MEAC 7
SEC 7
Big South 6
MAC 5
NEC 5
Summit 5
Big 12 4
MAAC 4
Patriot 4
A 10 3
ACC 3
American Athletic 3
Big East 3
Horizon 3
SoCon 3
Southland 3
Sun Belt 3
CAA 2
Ivy 2
WAC 2
America East 1
Big Sky 1
MVC 1
Pac-12 1
Big West 0
MW 0
SWAC 0
WCC 0

While ASUN members combined to schedule games against all but four, mostly Western, D1 leagues, contests against non-D1 foes dominate. In fact, it’s a bit disconcerting to see so few games on the slate pairing conference members with other Southern mid-major leagues, namely the Big South, SoCon, and Sun Belt, particularly since these conferences cooperate on other fronts.

ASUN Non-Conference Games By Strength And Location

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average
1-25 0 5 0 5 0.625
26-50 0 10 0 10 1.25
51-75 1 7 0 8 1
76-100 3 3 0 6 0.75
101-150 3 13 0 16 2
151-200 4 7 0 11 1.375
201-250 6 8 4 18 2.25
251-300 7 6 0 13 1.625
301-351 11 6 1 18 2.25
Non-D1 25 0 0 25 3.125
Total 60 65 5 130
Average 7.5 8.125 0.625 16.25
Percentage 0.4615384615 0.5 0.03846153846
Conference Rank (of 32) 18th 10th 29th

While ASUN teams’ home and road games approach parity, that wouldn’t be possible without each team scheduling an average of three games against non-D1 foes. Of the 129 games scheduled, exactly 100 will come against teams from outside of the top 100. And of the 29 top 100 contests, just four will be at home and FGCU is responsible for half of that total.

Of course, with the ASUN’s conference season only accounting for 14 games, members are responsible for finding three or four extra contests a season relative to the rest of Division I. Making matters worse, the other two leagues in a similar position this season—the WAC and Summit—aren’t convenient geographically. That eliminates an easy solution to all three groups’ scheduling woes.

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.

17. North Florida Ospreys

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational On The Mainland

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (11)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (11)
Edward Waters (Non-D1) None Mount St. Mary's (236)* None Michigan State (16)
Eastern Michigan (137) Michigan (27)*
Trinity Baptist (Non-D1) VCU (35)*
FIU (259) Florida (17)
Florida National (Non-D1) Wofford (145)*
Miami (Fla.) (29)
Florida A&M (351)
Missouri (150)
Ball State (197)
LSU (90)
Mississippi State (101)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Edward Waters, Florida National) and 3 losses (Florida, @FIU, Ball State)

Last fall, the Ospreys defeated just one Division I foe (North Dakota) heading into conference play. But Matthew Driscoll’s squad learned enough from their non-league struggles to finish 8-6 in ASUN play, good for the three seed (and an eventual championship berth) in the conference tournament. With 11 road games on the 2017-18 non-conference schedule, the plan is very much the same for these perennial road warriors.

104. Lipscomb Bisons

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
Emory (Non-D1) None None None Alabama (59)
Morehead State (162) Texas (39)
Belmont (111) Abilene Christian (332)
Florida College (Non-D1) Belmont (111)
Abilene Christian (332) Tennessee Tech (245)
Fisk (Non-D1) Tennessee State (226)
Tennessee (62)
Navy (238)
Purdue (19)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, @Tennessee Tech, Fisk) and 4 losses (@Morehead State, @Belmont, Belmont, Tennessee State)

The Bisons are likely to be FGCU’s main challengers for the ASUN crown. Four power 7 road games and the traditional Battle of the Boulevard—a home-and-home set with neighbor and former ASUN rival Belmont—should prepare Casey Alexander’s team for that potentially daunting task.

130. Kennesaw State Fighting Owls

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Piedmont (Non-D1) None None None Butler (26)
Tennessee State (226) Hofstra (132)
Bethune-Cookman (337) Tennessee Tech (245)
Georgia Southern (189) Florida State (36)
Samford (225) Washington (103)
Yale (96) Seattle (281)
Carver Bible (Non-D1) Texas Tech (58)
Mercer (151)

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

The Owls’ 14 2016-17 wins were the most they’ve recorded since making the jump to Division I, but an 8-8 league record (including a run to the ASUN semifinals) was more responsible for that than Kennesaw State’s November and December performances. With four Power 7 road games and visits from NCAA contenders Georgia Southern and Yale on the 2017 non-league slate, it could be a similar story for Al Skinner’s squad during the early stages of the new season.

149. FGCU Eagles

*Exempt Event: Homewood Suites FGCU Shootout

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Illinois State (70) None None None Siena (169)
Denver (187)* Bowling Green (211)
Navy (238)* Middle Tennessee (81)
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317)* UT Arlington (109)
Webber International (Non-D1)* FIU (259)
Middle Tennessee (81) Wichita State (10)
FAU (291) Rhode Island (56)
Oral Roberts (216)
Florida Memorial (Non-D1)
Florida Tech (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 5 wins (UT Arlington, Siena, FIU, FAU, Florida Tech) and 0 losses

The Eagles’ two top 100 visitors—Illinois State and Middle Tennessee—prominently featured in at-large discussions last season, though I suspect the Blue Raiders would have joined the Redbirds in the NIT had they lost the C-USA final. In an ideal world, FGCU’s slate would merit serious at-large consideration, as it features a mid-major who’s who, even if Wichita State earned a Power 7 spot during the offseason. There’s even a home-and-home with aforementioned Middle Tennessee for good measure. While it’s unlikely the Eagles will earn at-large consideration, thanks to the weakness at the bottom of the ASUN, performing well against this slate should earn them a better seed line if they can win three games in the conference tournament in the early days of the Championship Fortnight.

173. USC Upstate Spartans

*Exempt Event: Creek Classic

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
Allen (Non-D1) None Bowling Green (211)* None Minnesota (64)
Charleston Southern (292) Abilene Christian (332)* Georgia (54)
Paine (Non-D1)* Campbell (311)*
Coastal Georgia (Non-D1) UNC Asheville (143)
North Greenville (Non-D1) Gardner Webb (213)
UMKC (251) Kansas State (41)
Denver (187)
Jacksonville State (258)
Creighton (34)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Charleston Southern, Campbell, Allen, @UMKC) and 2 losses (UNC Asheville, Jacksonville State)

Even with nine true road games on the slate, Eddie Payne’s club should get itself in position to improve upon last season’s 17-win mark and CollegeInsider.com Tournament berth. Even though the four power conference games are all potentially rough ones, the Spartans have to like the fact they visit notorious slow starters Georgia early in the season.

245. NJIT Highlanders

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Wagner (244) None None None Seton Hall (48)
Lafayette (314) West Virginia (11)
Kean (Non-D1) Rutgers (199)
Drexel (242) Colgate (246)
LIU Brooklyn (288) Buffalo (104)
UMass Lowell (316) Brown (266)
Iona (98)
Fairleigh Dickinson (296)
Bryn Athyn (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Colgate, @UMass Lowell, Brown) and 2 losses (@Lafayette, @Iona)

Brian Kennedy’s first season in charge in Newark saw the Highlanders start out 8-8. But then ASUN play began and NJIT managed to win just once before going on a surprising two-game win streak at the end of the regular season. Nine home games and just three truly scary road trips (and I’m not including the one at Rutgers in that total) means the Highlanders, who are opening a new arena this season, could head into ASUN play with a similar pre-conference record in 2018.

325. Jacksonville Dolphins

*Exempt Event: Wright State MTE

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
North Carolina A&T (348) None Fairfield (232)* None UAB (147)
Webber International (Non-D1)* Gardner-Webb (213)* Florida A&M (351)
Bethune-Cookman (337) Wright State (161)*
Milwaukee (194) Eastern Kentucky (217)
Florida National (Non-D1) South Carolina State (334)
Northern Arizona (319) North Carolina State (67)
Middle Georgia State (Non-D1) Michigan (27)
Trinity Baptist (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 6 wins (Trinity Baptist, @North Carolina A&T, @Bethune-Cookman, @Florida A&M, South Carolina State, Middle Georgia State) and 2 losses (@Milwaukee, Eastern Kentucky)

A quartet of non-D1 home games and five games against fellow bottom dwellers mean that the Dolphins could equal their 12-5 non-conference mark of a season ago—especially with so many repeat opponents. The question will be whether that better prepares JU for ASUN play.

329. Stetson Hatters

*Exempt Event: Hoops In The Heartland

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
Webber International (Non-D1) None None None FIU (259)
USF (267) South Alabama (263)
SIU Edwardsville (313) North Dakota State (134)*
Ave Maria (Non-D1)* Green Bay (118)*
Campbell (311) Duquesne (195)
Edward Waters (Non-D1)* Marist (312)
UCF (136) Fort Wayne (141)
Florida National (Non-D1) Nebraska (88)
Bethune-Cookman (337)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 5 wins (Webber International, FIU, @SIU Edwardsville, South Alabama, Ave Maria) and 3 losses (@UCF, Fort Wayne, @Campbell)

While Mississippi State and Stephen F. Austin anchor the Hatters’ exempt event, Stetson will skip them to play a pair of non-Division I foes instead. That’s probably for the best for a squad that won just four D1 non-conference games last season. Of the two marquee games set for the Edmunds Center, the Hatters are more likely to stun USF than a UCF squad that’s might end up in the at-large pool.

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