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Analyzing The America East’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

Should Vermont repeat its 2017 America East Playoffs triumph, the Catamounts will be poised to improve upon last season’s 13 seed, thanks to a sterling non-conference schedule

NCAA Basketball: America East Final-UAlbany vs Vermont
2017 champ Vermont scheduled well enough to possibly improve upon last season’s 13 seed—provided the Catamounts win the America East again.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

There’s a rather significant quality divide in the America East, at least based on the four-year Team Score ranking. The conference’s top three all find themselves among the Top 150 nationally, but the bottom five are among Division I’s 50 worst teams. (New Hampshire makes up the middle class by itself.) However, a caveat applies to the second division—307th-ranked UMBC, which tripled its win total from 7 to 21 and rose from 334th to 201st in KenPom between 2016 and 2017. That means the Retrievers are poised to continue their rise above three truly awful seasons at the beginning of the survey period.

America East Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Vermont 3.466205 89
Albany 1.479486 126
Stony Brook 0.84724485 142
New Hampshire -2.2524974 220
UMBC -6.004619 307
UMass Lowell -6.60903 316
Hartford -7.3247155 324
Binghamton -7.799695 331
Maine -9.875175 343
Average -3.785866228 244.2222222
Conference Rank 25th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

Similarly, there’s a gaping chasm between the best America East schedule—Vermont, which consistently ranks in the top 70 at worst—and Hartford—280 places lower than the Catamounts in the Average Rank. However, the tiers are clearer here. The top three teams all fall among Division I’s top half; the middle trio all rank in the top 250; while the final three squads all have slates that rank among D1’s worst—across the board.

Considering where the bottom six teams are ranked, it’s no surprise the league’s average slates rank near Division I’s floor in each of the four categories—and dead last in terms of the Maximum Schedule table. While four league members will play in bracketed tournaments this season, UMBC, Maine, and Binghamton find themselves involved in events with exceptionally weak fields, driving that particular statistic downward.

*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

America East Schedule Strengths And National Rankings

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
Vermont* 4.018521132 64 4.775278498 35 4.409090931 68 3.751204423 61
Stony Brook 3.139006107 105 3.139006107 92 3.139006107 118 3.139006107 87
Albany 2.0321454 161 2.0321454 160 2.0321454 180 2.0321454 147
New Hampshire 1.464108252 205 1.464108252 197 1.464108252 219 1.464108252 188
UMBC* 1.410573158 210 2.686500298 118 1.572137258 211 1.249009058 200
Maine* 0.8701766558 235 1.066514788 214 0.9825579267 242 0.757795385 230
UMass Lowell -1.527995423 339 -1.527995423 334 -1.527995423 339 -1.527995423 336
Binghamton* -1.839167248 341 -1.724992686 337 -1.818553823 341 -1.859780673 339
Hartford -2.33804103 344 -2.33804103 342 -2.33804103 344 -2.33804103 344
Average 0.8032585559 222.6666667 1.0636138 203.2222222 0.8793839553 229.1111111 0.7408279443 214.6666667
Conference Rank 30th of 32 27th of 32 32nd of 32 29th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

A slight majority of America East squads over-scheduled, including favorite Vermont and contenders Stony Brook, UMBC, and New Hampshire. Albany, another team expected to challenge the Catamounts, managed to under-schedule itself by 35 positions. Remarkably, only two squads—the aforementioned Retrievers and Maine—own gaps that are greater than 37 places. That’s an impressive feat for any conference, let alone one ranking in the bottom quarter of D1.

America East 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
30 Binghamton 331 341 -10
43 New Hampshire 220 205 15
56 Hartford 324 344 -20
63 UMass Lowell 316 339 -23
69 Vermont 89 64 25
90 Albany 126 161 -35
96 Stony Brook 142 105 37
204 UMBC 307 210 97
215 Maine 343 235 108
96.22222222 Average (5/32 conf.) 244.2222222 222.6666667 21.55555556

America East 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
56 1 (+1 semi-home game) 20 14

Congratulations to Hartford, who will host a power conference team at Chase Arena this season. Unfortunately, that squad is Boston College, who have won just 16 games over the past two seasons, Making matters worse for the Eagles—they lost to the Hawks by two at Conte Forum last December. Meanwhile, Stony Brook welcomes Maryland to the renovated Nassau Coliseum in the semi-home game.

Each America East teams plays at least one non-D1 game this season, while Binghamton and UMass Lowell are the only two squads with just a single power conference game on their respective slates.

America East Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
NEC 17 1
Patriot 15 0
Non-D1 14 0
Ivy 13 0
MAAC 13 3
A 10 8 0
Big Ten 7 0
MEAC 5 0
ACC 3 0
American Athletic 3 0
Big East 3 0
CAA 3 1
MAC 3 0
Big 12 2 0
MVC 2 0
SEC 2 0
Atlantic Sun 1 0
Big Sky 1 1
C-USA 1 1
Horizon 1 1
MW 1 0
Pac-12 1 0
SoCon 1 1
Sun Belt 1 1
WAC 1 0
WCC 1 0
Big South 0 1
Big West 0 1
OVC 0 1
Southland 0 1
Summit 0 0
SWAC 0 0

Other than outliers Binghamton (to the west) and UMBC (to the south), the America East is a geographically-compact league. This also applies to the conference’s non-league scheduling, as 66 of the 123 known games chronicled here come against just five Northeastern Division I conferences. On the other hand, distance means that the America East plays no games against several loops that are comparable leagues, such as the Big South, OVC, and Southland.

America East 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 0
26-50 0 3 1 4 0.4444444444 0
51-75 0 4 0 4 0.4444444444 0
76-100 2 6 0 8 0.8888888889 1
101-150 3 8 1 12 1.333333333 0
151-200 4 10 1 15 1.666666667 4
201-250 8 8 1 17 1.888888889 1
251-300 13 10 5 28 3.111111111 2
301-351 11 4 0 15 1.666666667 6
Non-D1 14 0 0 14 1.555555556 0
Total 55 60 9 124
Average 6.111111111 6.666666667 1 13.77777778
Percentage 0.4435483871 0.4838709677 0.07258064516
Conference Rank (of 32) 22nd 12th 19th

The America East’s regional scheduling strategy, coupled with a relative lack of games against Power 7 foes, means the conference piles on games against opposition ranked outside of the RPI Top 150—74 of the 123 known games fall under this classification. That not only damages the chances of an America East outfit securing an unexpected at-large bid, but also has seeding ramifications. Just look at Vermont’s 13 seed last season—earned with a 23-game win streak to its credit.

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.

64. Vermont Catamounts

*Exempt Event: Islands Of The Bahamas Showcase

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Maine-Fort Kent (Non-D1)* None Bradley (270)* None Kentucky (3)
Siena (169) Coastal Carolina (180) or Yale (96)
Quinnipiac (264) UTSA (301)* Richmond (80)
Iona (98) or Bucknell (128)
James Madison (173) or Marquette (57)
Weber State (177) or Northeastern (138)
Northern Kentucky (222)* St. Bonaventure (84)
Harvard (106)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (@Quinnipiac, Yale, @Siena, Harvard) and 1 loss (Northeastern)

While the Catamounts will be favored to take the title in the inaugural Islands of the Bahamas Showcase, an early trip to Rupp Arena is the true highlight of UVM’s slate. That road trip along with visits to Patriot League favorite Bucknell, Ivy contenders Harvard and Yale, Big East power Marquette, and possible A 10 bid threats St. Bonaventure and Richmond give Vermont plenty of chances to get on the national radar early. But winning more than one of those games might be a huge ask.

105. Stony Brook Seawolves

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

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Brown (266) Maryland (30) None None UConn (55)*
Bucknell (128)* (Uniondale, N.Y.) Ball State (197)*
Shawnee State (Non-D1) Michigan State (16)*
St. Francis (Pa.) (279) LIU Brooklyn (288)
Hofstra (132) Columbia (167)
Norfolk State (261) Providence (43)
Rutgers (199)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (St. Francis (Pa.), Brown) and 4 losses (Columbia, @Maryland, Rutgers, @Hofstra)

The Seawolves join New Hampshire in the PK80 field, but thanks to difficulties in finding a fourth visiting team for the Victory Bracket, Stony Brook won’t get the neutral-site experience the Wildcats will encounter in Nashville. But Jeff Boals’ squad does get to visit both UConn (a possible upset?) and Michigan State (unlikely) and host Bucknell (a real coup) as part of their participation. Add in a semi-home game against Maryland at the Nassau Coliseum and this slate should prepare Stony Brook to meet or exceed last season’s second-place regular season finish. As for bettering that semifinal exit...

161. Albany Great Danes

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Iona (98) None None None Boston University (214)
Yale (96) Dartmouth (256)
Oneonta (Non-D1) Holy Cross (247)
Colgate (246) Monmouth (108)
Columbia (167) Siena (169)*
Bryant (309)* Memphis (79)*
Canisius (185) Louisville (8)*
Kent State (148)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Oneonta, Siena, @Colgate, @Columbia) and 3 losses (Holy Cross, @Yale, @Canisius)

The Great Danes get a pair of possible auto bid winners, Yale and defending MAAC Tournament champion Iona, to visit the capital of the Empire State. Add those two games to a roster of road games that feature Monmouth, crosstown rival Siena, and Gotham Classic showcase teams Louisville and Memphis (even if both teams are in a state of flux or outright turmoil) and you get a schedule that should prepare the Scoobies to go toe-to-toe with Vermont right up to Selection Eve.

205. New Hampshire Wildcats

*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 (5)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Wheelock (Non-D1) None Furman (196)* None Texas (39)*
American (283) Utah State (125)* Florida (17)*
Boston University (214) Holy Cross (247)
Bryant (309) George Washington (83)
Niagara (297) Fairfield (232)
Lydon State (Non-D1)
Dartmouth (256)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Holy Cross, American, Bryant, Wheelock) and 2 losses (@Boston University, @Dartmouth)

Bill Herrion is building a consistent winner in “the other” Durham, as the Wildcats have won 20 in a row in consecutive seasons. UNH is arguably closer to ending its NCAA drought than either Maine or Hartford, but they’ll likely have to get past Vermont or Albany to do so this season. This slate should give New Hampshire a decent win total heading into America East play, and trips to Florida and Texas as part of the Phil Knight Invitational’s on-campus rounds will expose the Wildcats to the type of squad they’re likely to see if they ever make it to March Madness.

210. UMBC Retrievers

*Exempt Event: Battle 4 Atlantis (Mainland Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6-7)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6-7)
Central Penn (Non-D1) None Army West Point (248) None SMU (15)
Chicago State (342)* (Charleston, S.C.) Arizona (7)
Nicholls State (329) or Marist (312) Colgate (246)
Presbyterian (349)* (or The Citadel) The Citadel (323)
Shenandoah (Non-D1) (Charleston, S.C.) (or Marist)
Coppin State (339) Delaware State (338)
Northern Kentucky (222) Towson (152)
Centenary (N.J.) (Non-D1) Maryland (30)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Delaware State, The Citadel) and 1 loss (Towson)

Even though the Retrievers’ rating stinks, they made a quantum leap in Ryan Odom’s first season in charge—winning 18 regular season games and finishing with a winning America East record. Add in a run to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament semifinals and this is a potential darkhorse contender for UVM’s throne. Yes, there are three rough power conference road games on this slate, but UMBC should win both of the brackets it’s involved in. Not only are the Retrievers hosting the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland rounds, but they’re also traveling to Charleston for an event hosted by The Citadel the following weekend.

235. Maine Black Bears

*Exempt Event: Hall Of Fame Tip-Off (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (9)
Boston University (214) None South Alabama (263)* Sacred Heart (304) Boston College (160)*
Maine-Presque Isle (Non-D1) Saint Peter's (164) (or Saint Peter's)* Texas Tech (58)*
Dartmouth (256) (or Sacred Heart)* Quinnipiac (264)
Maine-Macias (Non-D1) Georgetown (52)
Fordham (186)
Saint Joseph's (107)
Central Connecticut State (346)
Massachusetts (130)
Columbia (167)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Maine-Presque Isle, @Dartmouth) and 4 losses (@Boston University, Central Connecticut State, Quinnipiac, Columbia)

The Black Bears have yet to win more than eight games since Bob Walsh took over in time for the 2014-15 season and haven’t cracked double-digit wins since picking up 11 in 2012-13. With only four home games and three power-conference road games on this season’s slate, getting to 10 or more will be a tough ask, especially as Maine has only earned an average of three league wins per season under Walsh.

339. UMass Lowell River Hawks

Exempt Event: None

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)
UMass Boston (Non-D1) None None None Massachusetts (130)
Marist (312) NJIT (249)
Cornell (277) Wagner (244)
LIU Brooklyn (288) Brown (266)
Loyola (Md.) (293) Wisconsin (12)
Sacred Heart (304)
Boston University (214)
Central Connecticut State (346)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Wagner, Central Connecticut State, Boston University, @Cornell) and 7 losses (@Massachusetts, LIU Brooklyn, @Marist, NJIT, @Sacred Heart, @Loyola (Md.))

The River Hawks are finally NCAA Tournament-eligible this season, but they’ll need to claim the America East auto bid to get there. The copious return matchups on this slate and the single power-conference road trip (Wisconsin) won’t put UMass Lowell on the at-large map, but they could give the relative newcomers the confidence necessary to make some noise in conference play.

341. Binghamton Bearcats

*Exempt Event: Cancun Challenge (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Morgan State (322) None Montana State (276)* None Cornell (277)
Hartwick (Non-D1) Cal State Northridge (265) or George Mason (157)*
Colgate (246) Southeast Missouri (285)* Evansville (120)*
Army West Point (248) Delaware State (338)
LIU Brooklyn (288) Loyola (Md.) (293)
Elmira (Non-D1) Sacred Heart (304)
Penn State (95)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Cornell, Colgate, Delaware State) and 2 losses (Loyola (Md.), @Army West Point)

Last season, the Bearcats bumped their win total up to 12, an increase of four from 2015-16—and that was with a nine-game skid to close the season. This schedule, including Binghamton’s participation a Cancun Challenge that should be far more forgiving than last November’s Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland rounds, gives Tommy Dempsey’s team a chance to build further steady progress in his fifth season at the helm.

344. Hartford Hawks

*Exempt Event: Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Central Connecticut State (346) None LIU Brooklyn (288)* None Rider (212)
Gordon (Non-D1)* Miami (Ohio) (253)* LIU Brooklyn (288)
Bryant (309) Portland (215)
Wagner (244) FIU (259)
Boston College (160) Rutgers (199)
Quinnipiac (264)
Sacred Heart (304)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Sacred Heart, @Boston College) and 5 losses (@Central Connecticut State, Rider, @Rutgers, LIU Brooklyn, Quinnipiac)

Not only do the Hawks welcome a Boston College team they shouldn’t fear to West Hartford, but they also get a pair of winnable games during their November trip to Jamaica. Curiously, Hartford will play the LIU Brooklyn twice away from home thanks to the scheduling of the Caribbean event.

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