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Ranking the Big 12’s Non-Conference Schedules for 2018-19

Nine of the conference’s 10 teams have non-league slates that rank among the top 150 in the country—an impressive total for a power conference.

NCAA Basketball: Rice at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2018-19 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Warning: Graphics and tables may not appear optimally when viewing on a mobile device.

Ranking The Teams

With TCU improving its four-year ranking by 24 spots between this season and last and Texas Tech jumping up by 28 places, each member of the Big 12 ranks in the top 50 nationally. However, not all of the news is rosy, as not only did Kansas drop out of the top five, but the conference saw its number of top 25 teams decline from five to three. That’s thanks to Iowa State’s bad year and Oklahoma’s late season swoon.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Kansas 12.70631 6 5
West Virginia 11.903705 9 11
Baylor 10.146595 15 13
Oklahoma 8.229765 27 23
Texas Tech 8.1538525 30 58
Iowa State 8.036417 33 14
Oklahoma State 7.634179 38 32
Kansas State 7.4113135 39 41
Texas 7.327475 43 39
TCU 7.078673 45 69
Average 8.8628285 28.5 30.5
Conference Rank 1st of 32 (1st in 2017-18)

KenPom Gaps For 2018-19

Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
81 Kansas State 39 12 27
82 Texas 43 16 27
125 TCU 45 34 11
130 Iowa State 33 25 8
139 Kansas 6 1 5
144 Texas Tech 30 26 4
166 West Virginia 9 10 -1
258 Oklahoma State 38 62 -24
264 Baylor 15 40 -25
265 Oklahoma 27 52 -25

While KenPom’s preseason projections are close to the four-year rankings of the middle four teams in the table above, Kansas State, Texas, and to a lesser extent, TCU are forecast to outperform their recent histories this season. However, a trio of bubble teams from last season—Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State—are poised to struggle. But with the strength of this league, all three could find themselves in a similar position during the season’s final weeks.

Ranking The Schedules

Texas Tech is the outlier here, though a weak non-conference schedule didn’t really affect the Red Raiders’ selection or seeding a season ago—when they made it to the Elite Eight. Kansas, seen by many as a national title favorite, has a non-league schedule to match. Oklahoma’s slate also rates highly, even though the Sooners’ expectations are more modest this season. Based on these non-league slates, it could be another season where the overwhelming majority of the Big 12’s 10 teams remain in the hunt for an at-large until the final moments of Selection Sunday.

Note: The number of asterisks (*) represent the number of pending games on a team’s schedule.

Schedule Rankings

Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
2 Kansas* 8.113387125 2 8.535515712 2 8.732675423 2 8.338356 2
5 Oklahoma** 6.202618759 9 6.97258481 5 7.97800395 4 6.232526562 8
23 Texas* 4.53934166 40 5.324576917 24 5.520162494 27 5.12899134 23
57 Baylor* 3.834179417 71 4.159456798 59 4.828693885 48 3.490219712 76
79 West Virginia** 3.887766459 68 3.809158451 78 4.240146215 72 3.334088638 83
97 Oklahoma State** 2.238414332 147 3.258046293 99 4.756262915 51 2.044281376 148
101 Iowa State** 1.448911918 197 3.21906507 105 4.288274315 68 2.288385007 134
141 Kansas State** 2.575532477 128 2.499353386 138 2.9647652 133 1.824369823 165
142 TCU** 2.009472163 158 2.35106859 147 2.916407175 135 1.959169693 154
315 Texas Tech* -1.198972129 327 -0.8256362346 315 -0.5774642346 308 -1.073808235 321
96.2 Average 3.365065218 114.7 3.930318979 97.2 4.564792734 84.8 3.356657992 111.4
2/32 Conference Rank 3 of 32 2 of 32 1 of 32 3 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

As you’d expect based on the table above, Texas Tech has the biggest scheduling gap in the Big 12, and one of the largest in the entire country, and it’s not particularly close. The majority of the conference under-scheduled this season, except for Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas teams known for building strong November and December slates on a consistent basis.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
13 Kansas 6 2 4
56 Texas 43 23 20
61 Oklahoma 27 5 22
107 Baylor 15 57 -42
137 Oklahoma State 38 97 -59
156 Iowa State 33 101 -68
161 West Virginia 9 79 -70
221 TCU 45 142 -97
232 Kansas State 39 141 -102
345 Texas Tech 30 314 -284
148.9 Average (10/32 conf.) 28.5 96.1 -67.6

Road And Non-D1 Games

True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
18 4 1 (1 road game)

While the Big 12 ranks last among the Power 7 in terms of total road games scheduled, the conference averages nearly two per member—thanks to an increase of seven such contests scheduled in 2018-19. Last season, the conference played just a single road game at a non-power foe. That total’s been quadrupled this season; however, one of them will come against a Division II opponent. TCU is playing at Hawai’i Pacific before heading back from O’ahu after the Diamond Head Classic.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
SEC 16 4
Southland 9 0
Pac-12 8 4
American Athletic 8 2
SWAC 8 0
Big Ten 6 4
C-USA 6 4
Summit 6 0
Big East 5 3
WAC 5 0
ACC 4 5
MAC 4 0
OVC 4 0
Sun Belt 4 0
MVC 3 4
SoCon 3 0
A 10 2 4
Atlantic Sun 2 1
CAA 2 1
MAAC 2 1
Patriot 2 1
MW 1 2
America East 1 0
Big Sky 1 0
Big South 1 0
Horizon 1 0
Non-D1 1 0
Big West 0 2
Ivy 0 1
WCC 0 1
MEAC 0 0
NEC 0 0

As you’d expect, the Big 12’s current conference challenge partner, the SEC, leads this table for the second season in a row. But with news that the Big East will be a second power conference challenge partner next season, that league’s total will at least double in 2019-20. Note that the Summit dropped out of the top five above despite only playing one fewer game against the Big 12 this season. Their replacement, the Pac-12, jumped into a tie for third despite adding only two Big 12 contests. Five conferences don’t have a single set contest against a Big 12 member, an increase of three from a season ago.

Just two teams, USC and Florida, appear on three Big 12 schedules this season. Texas Tech, meanwhile, has four Southland teams on its slate, while Baylor has three from both that conference and the SWAC. Iowa State also managed to schedule the SWAC thrice. (The Red Raiders only scheduled two SWAC games.) Meanwhile, Oklahoma State will play a trio of American Athletic Conference members.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 5 12 11 28 2.8 14
Quad 2 7 2 8 17 1.7 14
Quad 3 19 0 3 22 2.2 14
Quad 4 40 3 4 47 4.7 2
Non-D1 0 1 0 1 0.1 0
Total 71 18 26 115
Average 7.1 1.8 2.6 11.5
Percentage 0.6173913043 0.1565217391 0.2260869565
Q1 1-30 1-75 1-50
Q2 31-75 76-135 51-100
Q3 76-160 135-240 101-200
Q4 161-353 241-353 201-353

Despite the presence of 19 home games against teams ranked in the top 100 of the four-year ranking, just 12 of these qualify for Quad 1 (5) or 2 (7) status. Interestingly, the Big 12 has an equal number of top 75 home and road games scheduled, with 12 each, but all 12 road games qualify under Quad 1 because of how the divisions are drawn.

Big 12 members play more neutral-site games than most conferences, thanks in no small part to the tendency of league members to play semi-home and semi-road games regularly (Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma, in particular). While conference teams have 11 top 50 neutral-site games set and 19 total against the top 100, there’s a bit more variance in their pending matchups in exempt events than found in most other power conferences—14 games apiece possible against the top 50, next 50, and next 100.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Super Average Schedule Ranking. The number in front of an opponent name is its Four-Year Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

2. Kansas Jayhawks

*Exempt Event: NIT Season Tip-Off

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
78. Vermont* 71. New Mexico State # 10. Michigan State $ 70. Arizona State
96. Louisiana* # - Kansas City 53. Marquette* 7. Kentucky ^
79. Stanford 14. Louisville or ^ - SEC Challenge
151. Wofford 42. Tennessee*
1. Villanova $ - Indianapolis
124. South Dakota
147. Eastern Michigan

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (KU) 2 wins (Kentucky (N), Stanford (N)) and 2 losses (Arizona State, Villanova (N))

With 151st-ranked Wofford the only opponent on this schedule ranked outside of the four-year ranking’s top 150, it’s not a surprise that the Jayhawks have the second-ranked non-conference schedule in the country (and the top one when considering only at-large prospects...sorry, Texas Southern). Then you look at the names—Villanova in a National Semifinal rematch at the Phog, Michigan State to start the season at the Champions Classic, two potentially brutal tests in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving, a revenge showdown with Arizona State in the desert, and Kentucky in the SEC Challenge—and the ranking becomes even more clear.

5. Oklahoma Sooners

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
151. Wofford* 12. Wichita State $ 16. Florida* 318. UTRGV
271. North Texas 52. USC ! 22. Wisconsin or 245. UTSA
28. Creighton $ - Oklahoma City 79. Stanford* 63. Northwestern
47. Vanderbilt^ ! - Tulsa 2. Virginia/
^ - SEC Challenge 21. Butler/
62. Middle Tennessee/
77. Dayton*
20. Notre Dame #
# - New York

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (North Texas, UTSA, USC (N), @Wichita State, Northwestern)

Not only will the Sooners play just three true non-conference home games before Big 12 play tips off, they’ll play a pair of non-Power 7 road games, as Lon Kruger will pay visits to former assistants Lew Hill (UTRGV) and Steve Henson (UTSA). Despite that, this slate features a minimum of eight power conference contests, and while both Creighton and Vanderbilt visit Norman, the other six will all come away from home. With that in mind, if Oklahoma struggles without Trae Young, it could be a very long season for fans of the crimson and cream.

23. Texas Longhorns

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
260. Eastern Illinois 40. Arkansas # 57. Georgia^
207. ULM* 5. North Carolina* ^ - SEC Challenge
316. The Citadel* 10. Michigan State or
220. Radford 31. UCLA*
67. VCU # - Fort Bliss
8. Purdue
140. Grand Canyon
50. Providence
102. UT Arlington

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@VCU) and 0 losses

Shaka Smart’s Longhorns are another Big 12 squad that put up a strong non-conference record (10-3) which helped bolster its at-large case after a Big 12 finish that was either at or below .500. And even though there’s just one true road game on this slate, which comes well after Big 12 play has started, the neutral-site games against Arkansas, North Carolina, and either Michigan State or UCLA, along with a decent home lineup, highlighted by visits from Purdue and Providence, should get Texas into a similar position this time around—at a minimum.

57. Baylor Bears

*Exempt Event: Emerald Coast Classic

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
224. Texas Southern 75. Ole Miss* 12. Wichita State
313. Southern* 11. Cincinnati or 13. Arizona
311. Prairie View A&M 185. George Mason*
287. Nicholls State*
124. South Dakota
107. Stephen F. Austin
25. Oregon
269. New Orleans
55. Alabama^
^ - SEC Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Texas Southern, Southern) and 1 loss (Wichita State)

Had the Bears not dropped four of their last five games, they probably would have advanced to the NCAAs for a fifth straight season. Of course, picking up early season wins at Xavier and over Wichita State in Waco might have also made a difference for Scott Drew’s squad. This time around, Baylor will visit the Shockers, who may be a bit down this season, and Arizona, who might also find themselves needing quality wins for March. With the home schedule featuring trios of opponents from the SWAC and Southland (including favorite Stephen F. Austin, to be fair), Baylor has a lot riding on its questionable road trips, the pair of games at the Emerald Coast Classic, and handy home contests against a likely-resurgent Oregon and SEC bid threat Alabama. Even with five possible Power 7 games, this schedule might not allow for another late Baylor swoon.

79. West Virginia Mountaineers

*Exempt Event: Myrtle Beach Invitational

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (5) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (5) True Road Games (1)
89. Buffalo 120. Monmouth* 42. Tennessee^
90. Valparaiso* 90. Valparaiso or ^ - SEC Challenge
177. Rider 127. WKU*
308. Youngstown State 69. Wake Forest/
109. Pittsburgh 111. Saint Joseph's/
195. Jacksonville State 115. UCF/
188. Lehigh 225. Cal State Fullerton*
16. Florida #
48. Rhode Island $
# - New York
$ - Uncasville, Conn.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (UCF (N), @Pittsburgh) and 0 losses

Like Texas, the Mountaineers are another squad that won’t play a non-conference road game until after Big 12 play tips off. But Bob Huggins’ team, a Sweet Sixteen qualifier a season ago, will play five neutral-site contests—with the Jimmy V Classic showdown against Florida likely to be more difficult than any of the three games at the Myrtle Beach Invitational or the one against Rhode Island in the Naismith Hall of Fame’s holiday event at the Mohegan Sun. With Pittsburgh struggling, the most difficult home game should be the opener against Buffalo—not the team you want to play to start a season—though the contest against MAAC favorite Rider should also test WVU.

97. Oklahoma State Cowboys

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
245. UTSA 104. Memphis* 84. Minnesota $ 266. Charlotte
117. College of Charleston* 1. Villanova or 26. Florida State 97. Tulsa
41. Houston 165. Canisius* (or LSU/UAB/
301. Central Arkansas 80. LSU/ College of Charleston)*
246. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 117. College of Charleston/ $ - U.S. Bank Stadium
51. South Carolina^ 135. UAB
^ - SEC Challenge (or Florida State)*
72. Nebraska #
# - Sioux Falls, S.D.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Charlotte, Florida State (N), Tulsa) and 0 losses

In his first season in charge, Mike Boynton nearly got the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament, thanks in no small part to a pair of wins over Kansas and a victory over Florida State in South Florida. But Oklahoma State is widely projected to take a step back this season, which means the Pokes have to improve upon last season’s 10-3 non-league mark to have a shot at a bid. And looking at this slate, that’s going to be tough ask. Three of the home games—College of Charleston, Houston, and South Carolina—are doozies, as is the AdvoCare Invitational, where Villanova could await the Cowboys in the semifinals. And while games at Charlotte and Tulsa are winnable, the matchup with Minnesota at this season’s Final Four site looks like both a unique honor and challenge.

101. Iowa State Cyclones

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (2)
337. Alabama State 13. Arizona* 56. Iowa
98. Missouri 3. Gonzaga or 75. Ole Miss^
224. Texas Southern* 81. Illinois* ^ - SEC Challenge
217. Omaha 4. Duke/
161. North Dakota State 18. Xavier/
313. Southern 54. San Diego State/
260. Eastern Illinois 64. Auburn*
219. Drake #
# - Wells Fargo Arena

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Iowa) and 1 loss (@Missouri)

While the Cyclones won the final Puerto Rico Tip-Off/first Myrtle Beach Invitational and went 9-3 in non-league play, a 4-14 Big 12 mark doomed them to their first losing record since 2009-10. Steve Prohm’s team is expected to rebound this season, and they’ll be challenged on a somewhat irregular basis before Big 12 play begins. While an early November rematch with Missouri and trips to Maui and Iowa City will be daunting, there’s little else to fear here. Even the SEC Challenge contest at Ole Miss might not be much of a worry for Iowa State, if the Cyclones are as improved as expected.

141. Kansas State Wildcats

*Exempt Event: U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (3)
300. Kennesaw State* 47. Vanderbilt # 264. Eastern Kentucky* 53. Marquette
196. Denver # - Kansas City 99. UNI or 97. Tulsa
188. Lehigh 178. Penn* 34. Texas A&M^
110. Georgia State 83. Old Dominion/ ^ - SEC Challenge
297. Southern Miss 98. Missouri/
185. George Mason 125. Oregon State/
300. Kennesaw State*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@Vanderbilt) and 1 loss (Tulsa (N))

The Wildcats surprisingly reached the Elite Eight last spring and are expected to build upon that run in 2018-19. This schedule should give Bruce Weber a good idea of what his squad is capable of, even if the biggest challenges will come away from Manhattan. Frankly, it will be a slight disappointment if the Wildcats don’t win the Paradise Jam this season, as the annual Kansas City contest, this time featuring improving Vanderbilt, and road games at Big East contender Marquette and SEC Challenge assignment (and former league foe) Texas A&M , are the biggest tests here by some margin.

142. TCU Horned Frogs

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2-3)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2-3)
168. Cal State Bakersfield 266. Charlotte* 52. USC # 24. SMU
223. Oral Roberts 48. Rhode Island or # - Staples Center 179. Hawai'i
88. Fresno State 108. Bucknell* (or Colorado/UNLV/
193. Lipscomb 76. Colorado/ Indiana State)*
147. Eastern Michigan 143. UNLV/ (Non-D1) Hawai'i Pacific
171. Central Michigan 164. Indiana State
164. Indiana State* (or Hawai'i)*
16. Florida^
^ - SEC Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (SMU) and 0 losses

The Horned Frogs’ 12-1 non-conference mark helped push Jamie Dixon’s squad into the NCAAs, despite a 9-9 Big 12 record. And with seven pre-Big 12 non-league home games and four winnable contests in Hawai’i, TCU should find itself able to equal that mark this season. The biggest challenge will come from SMU (at Moody Coliseum) and USC (the Horned Frogs’ second consecutive appearance in the Naismith Hall of Fame’s L.A. event) early and SEC Challenge foe Florida late.

315. Texas Tech Red Raiders

*Exempt Event: Hall of Fame Classic

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (4)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (4)
324. Incarnate Word 52. USC*
349. Mississippi Valley State* 72. Nebraska or
252. Southeastern Louisiana* 160. Missouri State*
214. Northern Colorado 104. Memphis #
344. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 4. Duke $
332. Northwestern State # - Miami
309. Abilene Christian ! $ - New York
318. UTRGV
40. Arkansas^
! - Lubbock Municipal Coliseum
^ - SEC Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (TTU) 1 win (Abilene Christian) and 0 losses

The Red Raiders join Duke, a team they’ll coincidentally meet in New York in December, as the lone Power 7 teams to not play a true non-conference road game this season. And when you look at the home slate, you realize a Tech team that reached the Elite Eight last season won’t face a quality opponent at home until Big 12 play—Arkansas doesn’t visit until late January. That means Red Raider fans who want to see Chris Beard’s squad testes will have to travel, be it to Kansas City in November or Miami or the Big Apple in December. If Tech stumbles in Big 12 play, it certainly will need to sweep its neutral-site games to have an at-large chance come March.

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