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Ranking the ASUN’s Non-Conference Schedules for 2018-19

2018 champ Lipscomb managed to put together top 10 non-league slate despite not participating in an exempt tournament this season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-North Carolina vs Lipscomb Bob Donnan-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

Belmonts, the only ASUN champion to earn higher than a 14 seed over the past 10 seasons, has long departed for the OVC. Now, it’s not like a low seed stopped Florida Gulf Coast on its 2013 Sweet Sixteen run. Still, the Eagles and 2018 champ, and presumptive 2019 favorite Lipscomb, are the only two league members that rank in the top 200 of the four-year rankings. That means another 15 or 16 seed is in the league champ’s future—though the Bisons could rise up to a 13 or 14 by claiming the ASUN double and getting some Championship Fortnight help, thanks to their strong non-conference schedule. The swap of USC Upstate, 250th a season ago, for 233rd-ranked Liberty didn’t boost the ASUN’s standing among conferences, while D1 newcomer North Alabama doesn’t yet factor into these ratings.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
FGCU 1.25273825 138 146
Lipscomb -1.45737635 193 240
Liberty -2.9130446 233 289
North Florida -3.2042483 241 209
NJIT -3.6926135 261 249
Kennesaw State -5.5582195 300 305
Jacksonville -6.235634 310 306
Stetson -6.840865 319 325
Average -3.581157875 249.375 258.625
Conference Rank 27th of 32 (26th 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
7 Liberty 233 144 89
21 Lipscomb 193 129 64
78 Jacksonville 310 281 29
112 NJIT 261 245 16
119 North Florida 241 228 13
231 Stetson 319 334 -15
282 Kennesaw State 300 329 -29
331 FGCU 138 203 -65

Even with a new transitional member this season, the ASUN could see its fortunes improve in 2018-19. Not only does KenPom project 2018 champ Lipscomb to improve upon its four-year performance by 64 spots, but the conference’s other newcomer, LIberty, could make a jump of nearly 90 places this season. However, not all of the projections are rosy, as league power FGCU is expected to underperform by 65 spots this season.

Ranking The Schedules

Despite the presence of two non-conference schedules ranked in the bottom 30 across the board, the ASUN ranks a very respectable 10th among the 32 conferences in the known schedule ranking. And with only four league members participating in bracketed tournaments, the conference remains in Division I’s upper half in all three variable rankings—with the conference improving its positioning across the board when compared to 2017-18. Thanks to Lipscomb’s top 10 slate and FGCU’s top 100 one balancing out the two poorest ones, the ASUN’s super average is eighth, good for the final position in D1’s top quartile.

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
6 Lipscomb 6.873090129 5 6.873090129 6 6.873090129 10 6.873090129 4
94 FGCU** 3.691034415 77 3.406684031 95 3.727455743 94 3.082982822 99
109 North Florida* 3.592648804 84 3.18558885 111 3.278477966 114 3.092699733 97
111 Kennesaw State** 3.025653742 106 3.104254838 113 3.753980143 91 2.599382793 119
169 North Alabama 1.997756842 160 1.997756842 172 1.997756842 180 1.997756842 150
267 Stetson 0.4964255167 258 0.4964255167 263 0.4964255167 271 0.4964255167 258
269 Liberty* 0.6663312589 247 0.420387725 267 0.453366575 274 0.387408875 262
330 Jacksonville -1.147675015 326 -1.147675015 330 -1.147675015 332 -1.147675015 327
342 NJIT -1.654185257 340 -1.654185257 341 -1.654185257 343 -1.654185257 340
150.55 Average 2.132807299 140.33 2.037390324 150.77 2.159208656 151.77 1.9313413 146.22
8/32 Conference Rank 10 of 32 13 of 32 14 of 32 12 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Five of the ASUN’s eight Division I squads over-scheduled this season, with defending conference champ Lipscomb’s sixth-ranked slate sitting 187 spots above its four-year ranking. Of the three teams that under-scheduled, both Jacksonville and NJIT managed to do so with the league’s two worst lineups.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
51 Jacksonville 310 328 -18
87 Liberty 233 268 -35
111 FGCU 138 94 44
128 Stetson 319 266 53
185 NJIT 261 340 -79
269 North Florida 241 109 132
313 Lipscomb 193 6 187
314 Kennesaw State 300 111 189
182.25 Average (21/32 conf.) 249.375 190.25 59.125

Home, Power 7 Road, 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
50 0 25 19

With the net addition of a new member and the expansion of the conference schedule from 14 games to 16, the ASUN will play 10 fewer home non-conference games games this season than in 2017-18 (60). None of those will be at home, thanks to Stetson returning a pair of 2017 home contests against UCF and South Florida. One benefit of the expanded conference slate, is the fact that there are a half-dozen fewer non-D1 games on ASUN schedules this season. (And that’s with North Alabama playing three non-D1 foes as part of a four-game home slate.) On the flip side, the number of ASUN Power 7 road games remains steady for the second consecutive season—a slight percentage increase thanks to the drop in available non-conference slots.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 19 0
OVC 10 3
SEC 8 0
Big South 7 1
SoCon 7 1
ACC 7 0
MEAC 7 0
C-USA 6 2
NEC 5 0
Patriot 5 0
American Athletic 4 1
A 10 4 0
America East 4 0
Big Ten 4 0
Ivy 3 1
Summit 3 1
Sun Belt 3 1
CAA 3 0
MAC 3 0
Big 12 2 1
MVC 2 1
Pac-12 2 1
SWAC 2 0
Big East 1 0
Big Sky 1 0
Horizon 1 0
MAAC 1 0
Southland 1 0
WAC 1 0
WCC 1 0
Big West 0 1
MW 0 1

Even though the ASUN’s total number of non-D1 games dropped, that classification leads the way in this table for the second consecutive year. In terms of actual Division I opposition, however, the OVC tops the standings for the second season in a row, with the SEC replacing the Big Ten as the highest-ranked power conference. Last season, four leagues didn’t appear on the ASUN’s eight set schedules. This time around, that number has been reduced to two, and conference members could encounter Big West and Mountain West opponents in tournament play to complete the set.

The only team that will play more than two games against ASUN opposition is Belmont, and that’s thanks to their traditional home-and-home series with Lipscomb, the Battle of the Boulevard. But the Bisons aren’t the only ASUN squad doubling up in non-conference:

  • Newcomer North Alabama will reunite with former Gulf South rival Jacksonville State for a pair of games.
  • Both Jacksonville schools are scheduled to play a pair of Big South schools from South Carolina twice—JU against Presbyterian and UNF against Charleston Southern.
  • Plus, FGCU could meet South Dakota State on the third day of the Gulf Coast Showcase—days after the pair meet in a non-bracketed game for that event at Alico Arena.

NJIT will play four NEC opponents this season, while Lipscomb has four games against three OVC teams lined up.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 0 22 1 23 2.555555556 1
Quad 2 0 10 2 12 1.333333333 4
Quad 3 7 15 2 24 2.666666667 6
Quad 4 24 22 3 49 5.444444444 5
Non-D1 19 0 0 19 2.111111111 0
Total 50 69 8 127
Average 5.555555556 7.666666667 0.8888888889 14.11111111
Percentage 0.3937007874 0.5433070866 0.06299212598
Q1 1-30 1-75 1-50
Q2 31-75 76-135 51-100
Q3 76-160 136-240 101-200
Q4 161-353 241-353 201-353

ASUN teams are slated to meet just four top 100 teams at home compared to 27 away from home. Seven of those top 100 games belong to Lipscomb alone, with two at home.

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, except for North Alabama (Wikipedia).

6. Lipscomb Bisons

No Exempt Event

True Home Games (6) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) True Road Games (7)
(Non-D1) Sewanee 24. SMU
197. Tennessee State 45. TCU
91. Belmont 213. Morehead State
227. Navy 62. Middle Tennessee
(Non-D1) Covenant 91. Belmont
78. Vermont 14. Louisville
29. Clemson

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (Lipscomb) 5 wins (Morehead State, @Belmont, @Tennessee State, Belmont, @Navy) and 0 losses

The Bisons didn’t need an exempt tournament to put together a killer non-conference schedule. For starters, there are four rough Power 7 road games on this list, while the Battle of the Boulevard should again produce a pair of classic games. Looking deeper, getting Vermont to Allen Arena is a great piece of mid-major scheduling. It’s just a shame that Middle Tennessee will probably be rebuilding.

94. FGCU Eagles

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Southeastern 114. Toledo* 16. Florida # 87. Illinois State
94. South Dakota State* 96. Louisiana or # - Sunrise, Fla. 10. Michigan State
262. FIU 146. Colorado State* 278. FAU
240. Colgate 94. South Dakota State/ 223. Oral Roberts
(Non-D1) Keiser 119. UC Irvine/ 257. UMBC
194. Tulane/ 75. Ole Miss
245. UTSA*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (FGCU) 1 win (Illinois State) and 3 losses (FAU, Oral Roberts, @FIU)

The Eagles’ 2018-19 non-conference slate isn’t quite as daunting as 2017-18’s, but there’s still plenty of quality here. The defending ASUN regular-season champs get the benefit of a trio of semi-home games, thanks to their quadrennial participation in the Gulf Coast Showcase, held just a few miles from campus. Plus, Michael Fly’s first FGCU squad will make the easy trip across Alligator Alley to meet Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic. However, the game undoubtedly circled in red on the team calendar is a rematch against Michigan State, who defeated FGCU by one in highly-controversial circumstances two Novembers ago at the Breslin Center.

109. North Florida Ospreys

*Exempt Event: Cancun Challenge (Mayan Division)

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (9)
(Non-D1) Edward Waters 297. Southern Miss* 77. Dayton
350. Florida A&M 195. Jacksonville State or 65. Penn State*
286. Charleston Southern 296. Western Carolina* 156. Wright State*
(Non-D1) Florida National 16. Florida
286. Charleston Southern
84. Minnesota
262. FIU
26. Florida State
64. Auburn

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (Edward Waters, @Florida A&M, @FIU, Florida National), 1 loss (@Florida)

Matt Driscoll is heading into his 10th season in charge of the Ospreys and one constant during that time has been his ability to build daunting non-conference schedules. And while UNF will play two fewer Power 7 road games than in 2017, this slate still features its share of speed bumps. But the Ospreys will have a chance at winning the Cancun Challenge’s Mayan Division for a second time, something they did in their 23-win 2014-15 NCAA Tournament season.

111. Kennesaw State Fighting Owls

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

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Oglethorpe 98. Missouri* 39. Kansas State*
91. Belmont 83. Old Dominion or 243. Samford
141. Hofstra 125. Oregon State* 57. Georgia
230. Tennessee Tech 39. Kansas State/ 229. Gardner-Webb
198. Elon 264. Eastern Kentucky/ 85. Georgia Tech
(Non-D1) Southeastern 99. UNI/ 136. Yale
178. Penn*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Samford) and 3 losses (@Hofstra, @Tennessee State, Yale)

Al Skinner’s third Owl squad won four fewer games than his second (10 compared to 14), with a two-win drop in non-conference play alone. And this slate, which features a minimum of four power conference games and matchups with mid-major contenders Belmont, Hofstra, and Yale, likely won’t help boost Kennesaw’s win total as Skinner starts season four of his building project.

169. North Alabama Lions

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic

True Home Games (4) True Road Games (11)
True Home Games (4) True Road Games (11)
(Non-D1) Blue Mountain 243. Samford
(Non-D1) Martin Methodist* 210. Saint Louis*
195. Jacksonville State 109. Pittsburgh*
(Non-D1) Huntingdon 191. Troy*
114. Toledo
135. UAB
134. UNCG
195. Jacksonville State
331. VMI
3. Gonzaga
260. Eastern Illinois

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

Thanks to the Lions’ transition from Division II, they’ll be on the road a lot during November and December, with a daunting trip to Gonzaga and pair of Barclays Center Classic games at Saint Louis and Pittsburgh the major highlights. As mentioned above, Jacksonville State will be the lone Division I team to visit Flowers Hall in the non-conference. In other words, don’t expect Tony Pujol’s first Lion squad to do better than its 15-13 mark of a season ago.

267. Stetson Hatters

*Exempt Event: Hall of Fame Classic (On-Campus Only)

True Home Games (7) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (7) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) Johnson (Fla.) 160. Missouri State*
272. Robert Morris* 52. USC*
331. VMI 252. Southeastern Louisiana*
298. Western Illinois 328. Bethune-Cookman
322. Marist 285. USF
155. UNC Asheville 4. Duke
(Non-D1) Edward Waters 115. UCF
343. Longwood

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Edward Waters, @Marist) and 3 losses (USF, UCF, Bethune-Cookman)

Surprisingly, the Hatters won eight non-conference games last season, but a 4-11 performance in ASUN play means the pressure is on Corey Williams as he enters his sixth season, with last season’s 12-20 mark his best so far. Even though there are trips to USC, Duke, and local rivals UCF on the Hatters’ schedule, they’ll want to focus on the six winnable home games and the trio of road contests that fall in the same category.

269. Liberty Flames

*Exempt Event: Commodore Classic

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
(Non-D1) Maine-Fort Kent 337. Alabama State $ 55. Alabama # 176. Kent State*
(Non-D1) Trevecca Nazarene 247. Austin Peay or # - Huntsville, Ala. 47. Vanderbilt*
333. Alcorn State* 283. Campbell $ 227. Navy
326. Savannah State* $ - St. Petersburg, Fla. 68. Georgetown
110. Georgia State 31. UCLA
338. South Carolina State
(Non-D1) Kentucky Christian

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (@Georgia State, Kentucky Christian, Alabama State (N)) and 2 losses (Campbell, @Campbell)

Ritchie McKay’s Flames join from the Big South after a 22-win campaign that ended with a loss in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament semifinals. Liberty actually won nine non-conference games last season, highlighted by an early victory at Wake Forest. But that was the Flames’ only Power 7 road game—this time, they’ll play three, plus meet Alabama in Huntsville.

While Liberty doesn’t have any former Big South rivals on this schedule for sure, the Flames could meet Campbell on the second day of a tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla. in December.

330. Jacksonville Dolphins

*Exempt Event: Goldie and Herman Ungar Classic

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
350. Florida A&M 284. Southeast Missouri State* 329. Northern Arizona
(Non-D1) Florida Memorial* 187. Chattanooga* 140. Grand Canyon
338. South Carolina State 249. South Alabama*
(Non-D1) Middle Georgia State 296. Western Carolina
345. Presbyterian 345. Presbyterian
328. Bethune-Cookman
20. Notre Dame
44. Indiana

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Middle Georgia State) and 3 losses (Bethune-Cookman, @South Carolina State, Northern Arizona)

The Dolphins have been stuck in the middle of the ASUN standings over recent seasons, but this schedule gives Tony Jasick’s squad real hope of a strong start. While there’s a round-robin tournament at South Alabama and tricky Northern Arizona-Grand Canyon road trip early in the slate, the two biggest challenges, Notre Dame and Indiana, won’t arrive until right before conference play tips off.

342. NJIT Highlanders

*Exempt Event: CNY Hoops Classic

True Home Games (6) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (6) True Road Games (9)
240. Colgate* 321. Binghamton*
282. Brown 206. Wagner
(Non-D1) Kean* 275. LIU Brooklyn
273. Cornell* 263. Drexel
265. Army West Point 307. UMass Lowell
325. St. Francis-Brooklyn 232. Fordham
293. Fairleigh Dickinson
41. Houston
199. Duquesne

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (Kean, Drexel, LIU Brooklyn, UMass Lowell, Fairleigh Dickinson) and 3 losses (Wagner, @Colgate, @Brown)

Brian Kennedy’s Highlanders posted a three-win improvement in his second season and a similar jump is possible this season, even with nine non-conference road games. Just one of those, against Houston, will come against a Power 7 opponent, with Duquesne the only other foe ranked in the top 200 of the four-year ranking. Curiously, even though NJIT is playing in an Upstate New York-focused MTE, it will play three home games as part of its participation.

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