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

When looking at this season’s non-league slates, the Big East’s powers largely did what they needed to do, but the conference’s bottom-feeders could be left in the lurch come March if they improve as much as expected.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova Bill Streicher-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 two national championships in three seasons, it’s no surprise that Villanova tops the four-year rankings for the second straight season. A full 60 percent of the Big East ranks within the top 50, with Providence barely hanging on and Marquette knocking on the door. With St. John’s edging up to 93rd from 102nd, DePaul is now the lone league member ranked outside of the top 100.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Villanova 15.115955 1 1
Xavier 9.73733 18 25
Butler 9.27906 21 26
Creighton 8.228572 28 34
Seton Hall 7.7285555 37 48
Providence 6.55549 50 43
Marquette 6.424673 53 57
Georgetown 5.069546 68 52
St. John's 3.178732 93 102
DePaul 1.021926 144 171
Average 7.23398395 51.3 55.9
Conference Rank 3rd of 32 (3rd 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
19 DePaul 144 77 67
35 St. John's 93 39 54
88 Marquette 53 29 24
126 Georgetown 68 57 11
158 Providence 50 49 1
187 Villanova 1 5 -4
194 Creighton 28 33 -5
211 Butler 21 31 -10
235 Seton Hall 37 54 -17
295 Xavier 18 55 -37

KenPom’s preseason projections expect half of the conference to outperform their four-year histories, with the bulk of those teams outfits that struggled last season. The other half, including Villanova and four of the league’s other five NCAA teams, are expected to take a step back. However, in all cases, the metrics project that each of these squads should still contend for at-large bids.

Ranking The Schedules

The strength of the Big East’s exempt events boost its collective average schedule ranking to sixth nationally (out of 32 conferences). With half of the league’s non-conference slates ranking in the top 100, the Big East should probably be higher, but the weak slates DePaul, Georgetown, and St. John’s built really weigh the league down. And with two of those teams expecting to compete for at-large bids this season, they could find themselves in trouble with the Selection Committee if they’re average in conference play.

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
11 Xavier** 5.203461945 23 6.585042771 10 7.465201262 6 5.594984358 15
39 Creighton** 4.46052475 43 4.696895 37 5.244111846 41 4.088906 50
54 Seton Hall** 4.022741295 62 4.361266553 51 5.406015038 34 3.304444819 87
78 Villanova** 3.169253991 98 3.765581013 79 4.680614627 54 3.134999104 94
96 Butler** 1.625656964 185 3.446703219 93 4.255614162 70 2.476104219 128
103 Providence* 2.774219983 118 3.223604321 104 3.710538677 95 2.736669965 112
153 Marquette* 1.329829438 201 2.273770154 154 2.470929865 160 2.076610442 146
256 St. John's* 0.1902481229 269 0.5974092288 253 0.6682700942 260 0.5265483635 256
325 Georgetown -1.013338131 321 -1.013338131 326 -1.013338131 327 -1.013338131 318
340 DePaul -1.492429427 338 -1.492429427 339 -1.492429427 340 -1.492429427 338
145.5 Average 2.027016893 165.8 2.64445047 144.6 3.139552801 138.7 2.143349971 154.4
6/32 Conference Rank 12 of 32 6 of 32 5 of 32 9 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Xavier, a team known for building strong non-conference schedules, is the only Big East squad that over-scheduled this season. Everyone else under-scheduled relative to their four-year ranking, with DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, and St. John’s all doing so by at least 100 spots. The Blue Demons’ slate is nearly 200 places worse than their (not great) recent performances, while the Hoyas’ is 255 spots below their four-year team score.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
24 Xavier 18 11 7
32 Creighton 28 39 -11
45 Seton Hall 37 54 -17
124 Providence 50 103 -53
173 Butler 21 96 -75
178 Villanova 1 78 -77
230 Marquette 53 153 -100
295 St. John's 93 255 -162
318 DePaul 144 338 -194
337 Georgetown 68 323 -255
175.6 Average (19/32 conf.) 51.3 145 -93.7

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
19 2 1

For the second season in a row, the Big East will play fewer true non-conference road games than any Power 7 conference that’s not the Big 12. However, the league’s average of nearly two such games per team is far more respectable when compared to their typically more-bloated power league brethren. While the Big East’s overall number of road games increased by three, the number of such games played against non-power opponents dropped by a whopping five.

While the Big East’s number of non-D1 games is half of what it was a season ago, this is the third straight season in which Creighton has scheduled such a contest.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Big Ten 14 4
NEC 9 0
A 10 8 4
MEAC 8 0
ACC 7 6
Horizon 7 0
SEC 6 4
American Athletic 6 2
MAC 6 1
Big 12 5 3
Big South 4 0
MAAC 4 0
America East 3 0
Ivy 3 0
WAC 3 0
Sun Belt 2 1
WCC 2 1
Patriot 2 0
SoCon 2 0
Summit 2 0
Pac-12 1 3
C-USA 1 2
MW 1 2
Big West 1 1
MVC 1 1
Atlantic Sun 1 0
Big Sky 1 0
Non-D1 1 0
OVC 1 0
Southland 1 0
SWAC 1 0
CAA 0 1

For the second straight season, the Big East’s Gavitt Games partner, the Big Ten, tops this table—with 14 set games for the second straight season. The rest of the top four—the NEC, A 10, and MEAC—remain in place, though in a slightly different order. Meanwhile, the ACC and Horizon jump into a tie for fifth, replacing the Pac-12.

Next season, the Big 12, currently 10th, will likely jump to the top, thanks to its new challenge series with the Big East. Four of those games will be return contests for matchups scheduled this season.

In 2017-18, three conferences were missing from Big East schedules. This time around, that number has dropped to one, and it’s the CAA—a mild surprise (though the two leagues met just once a season ago).

No single non-conference opponent appears on more than a pair of Big East schedules. St. John’s loaded its non-league slate with four squads from the weak NEC and DePaul put three MEAC clubs on its slate. Meanwhile, Seton Hall went in a different direction, as the Pirates will play a trio of Big Ten teams.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 6 13 4 23 2.3 16
Quad 2 5 3 6 14 1.4 12
Quad 3 15 3 4 22 2.2 8
Quad 4 51 0 2 53 5.3 0
Non-D1 1 0 0 1 0.1 0
Total 78 19 16 113
Average 7.8 1.9 1.6 11.3
Percentage 0.6902654867 0.1681415929 0.1415929204
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

Big East squads will entertain just 11 top 75 teams (according to the four-year ranking) this season, while they’ll play 17 such games away from home. That’s a good thing for the conference’s overall prospects. However, the fact that 52 of the conference’s 78 total home games feature teams from Quad 4 (or outside of D1) isn’t great for fans or Fox Sports’ ratings.

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.

11. Xavier Musketeers

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
259. IUPUI 64. Auburn* 11. Cincinnati
122. Evansville* 4. Duke or 98. Missouri
22. Wisconsin^ 54. San Diego State*
237. Miami (Ohio) 3. Gonzaga/
131. Oakland 13. Arizona/
159. Ohio 33. Iowa State/
264. Eastern Kentucky 81. Illinois*
288. Detroit Mercy
^ - Gavitt Games

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@Wisconsin, Cincinnati) and 0 losses

With Chris Mack finally lured away from his alma mater by Louisville, it’s up to Travis Steele to keep the great Musketeer basketball tradition going. And Xavier will be tested by the first non-conference slate of the Steele administration, even if the home schedule is not all that thrilling outside of the Gavitt Games contest against Wisconsin. That’s because the Musketeers will participate in a loaded Maui Jim Maui Invitational in November and visit a pair of 2018 NCAA teams, Crosstown Shootout rival Cincinnati and Missouri, in December.

39. Creighton Bluejays

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
298. Western Illinois 66. Boise State* 72. Nebraska
95. ETSU* 74. St. Bonaventure or 27. Oklahoma
35. Ohio State^ 110. Georgia State*
118. Montana 29. Clemson/
3. Gonzaga 57. Georgia/
189. Green Bay 87. Illinois State/
(Non-D1) Coe 157. Akron*
268. UMKC
^ - Gavitt Games

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

Even with a non-D1 game scheduled, the Bluejays slate still ranks second in the Big East, thanks largely to home contests against Ohio State and Gonzaga, along with regional Power 7 trips to Nebraska and Oklahoma, even if the Huskers are a stronger at-large bet at this point. Plus, there’s the Cayman Islands Classic, which will see SoCon power ETSU visit Omaha before Greg McDermott’s club heads to Caribbean. The Jays must like their chances reach the final, where 2018 Sweet Sixteen club Clemson would be the most likely opponent.

54. Seton Hall Pirates

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
206. Wagner 7. Kentucky # 140. Grand Canyon* 72. Nebraska^
210. Saint Louis # - New York 36. Utah or 32. Maryland
14. Louisville 179. Hawai'i* ^ - Gavitt Games
239. New Hampshire 23. Miami (Fla.)/
167. Rutgers 63. Northwestern/
306. Sacred Heart 88. Fresno State/
166. La Salle*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@Louisville, Wagner) and 1 loss (@Rutgers)

The Pirates will play games on both coasts as they attempt to earn their fourth consecutive NCAA bid. For starters, Kevin Willard’s team will play six contests in Newark, highlighted by a visit from Chris Mack’s first Louisville squad, and another in New York, as the Cards’ Bluegrass rivals, Kentucky, will meet the Hall at Madison Square Garden. The Pirates will also head to the Midwest to take on Nebraska in the Gavitt Games, then go all the way to the O.C. for the Wooden Legacy, where a potential semifinal against Utah could be a vital matchup with March Madness implications. And if those contests weren’t enough, the Hall also takes on a Maryland squad that should be much improved in College Park.

78. Villanova Wildcats

*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)
327. Morgan State 165. Canisius* 26. Florida State 178. Penn
291. Quinnipiac 38. Oklahoma State/ (or LSU/UAB/ 6. Kansas
17. Michigan^ 104. Memphis* College of Charleston)*
126. Furman* 80. LSU/ 166. La Salle !
86. Temple 117. College of Charleston/ ! - The Palestra
111. Saint Joseph's 135. UAB
^ - Gavitt Games (or Florida State)*
92. UConn #
# - New York

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 7 wins (Penn, @Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, @Temple, @UConn, Kansas (N), Michigan (N)) and 0 losses

Really, the first two games on the home schedule, featuring Morgan State and Quinnipiac, weigh the defending National Champs’ schedule down, as there’s plenty of quality here. For starters, Jay Wright’s Wildcats will face both of the teams it defeated in last season’s Final Four—championship game victim Michigan at home in the Gavitt series and semifinal opponent Kansas at Phog Allen. Nova will also travel to Florida for the AdvoCare Invitational, where they’ll hope to improve upon the 2-1 second-place finish they recorded in 2007. Florida State, a 2018 Elite Eight squad, is a possible championship game foe for the ‘Cats in that event. And as always, there’s the Big Five, which sees Villanova face both Ivy champ Penn and La Salle at the Palestra and Temple and Saint Joseph’s, both expected to be improved, at the refurbished Finneran Pavilion.

96. Butler Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

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)
237. Miami (Ohio)* 77. Dayton* 210. Saint Louis
288. Detroit Mercy 2. Virginia or 16. Florida
75. Ole Miss 62. Middle Tennessee*
282. Brown 16. Florida/
212. Northern Illinois 22. Wisconsin/
345. Presbyterian 27. Oklahoma/
119. UC Irvine 79. Stanford*
44. Indiana #
# - Bankers Life Fieldhouse

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

LaVall Jordan’s first season in charge at Hinkle Fieldhouse was a success, as the Bulldogs reached the NCAAs and managed to win a game. In year two, Butler should be able to rack up some home non-conference wins, with an Ole Miss team that’s breaking in a new coach and Big West favorite UC Irvine the most dangerous visitors, while potentially struggling away from home. Not only will Butler take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis, where Virginia looms as a potential semifinal opponent, they’ll travel to both A 10 favorite Saint Louis and Florida, an SEC sleeper (and a team the Bulldogs could meet on day three in the Bahamas). And if all that weren’t enough, Indiana, expected to take a leap forward in Archie Miller’s second season in charge, is this season’s Crossroads Classic opponent.

103. Providence Friars

*Exempt Event: Air Force Reserve Tip-Off (Naismith Bracket)

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
226. Siena* 12. Wichita State # 121. Boston College
277. Holy Cross* 51. South Carolina* 43. Texas
112. Iona 17. Michigan or
293. Fairleigh Dickinson 128. George Washington*
48. Rhode Island # - Annapolis, Md.
175. UMass
341. Central Connecticut
137. Albany

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Boston College) and 2 losses (@Rhode Island, @UMass)

Despite putting up some indifferent non-conference results a season ago, the Friars pushed themselves into the NCAAs late, thanks in no small part to reaching the Big East Tournament final. And Ed Cooley’s squad could find itself in a similar position this season, as there are some challenges on this slate, even if a few teams found on it (like Veterans Classic opponent Wichita State and in-state rival Rhode Island) are likely to take a step or two back in 2018-19. That’s because there are just more teams—like Boston College, Texas, and Hall of Fame Tip-Off opponent South Carolina—likely to be stronger than they were a season ago.

153. Marquette Golden Eagles

*Exempt Event: NIT Season Tip-Off

True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
257. UMBC 6. Kansas* 44. Indiana^
328. Bethune-Cookman* 14. Louisville or ^ - Gavitt Games
345. Presbyterian* 42. Tennessee*
286. Charleston Southern
39. Kansas State
209. UTEP
22. Wisconsin
218. North Dakota
89. Buffalo
313. Southern

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

With the Golden Eagles playing their first season in Milwaukee’s new downtown arena, it’s no surprise that Steve Wojciechowski’s non-conference slate is home heavy. And while Marquette fans will have to endure their share of blowouts, at least archrival Wisconsin, Elite Eight squad Kansas State, and MAC champ Buffalo visit, as does UMBC, a team that will look to follow up its historic 16-over-1 upset by ruining opening night for the Golden Eagles. But it’s the three games scheduled to be played away from home that keep this schedule from dropping too far down the standings—the NIT Season Tip-Off is one of the strongest exempt events this season, while a road game at Indiana in the Gavitt Games will be an excellent early test.

256. St. John’s Red Storm

*Exempt Event: GotPrint.com Legends Classic

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (2)
304. Loyola (Md.)* 101. California* 85. Georgia Tech # 167. Rutgers^
228. Bowling Green* 67. VCU or # - Miami 4. Duke
339. Maryland Eastern Shore 86. Temple* ^ - Gavitt Games
238. Mount St. Mary's
105. Princeton
206. Wagner
325. St. Francis-Brooklyn
306. Sacred Heart

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Sacred Heart, Duke) and 0 losses

Chris Mullin’s fourth season in Jamaica, Queens is setting up to be a vital one, as the Red Storm only managed to finish 16-17 a season ago despite defeating Duke at Madison Square Garden. The problem was—that win snapped an 11-game losing streak that had completely wrecked St. John’s season. With the Red Storm expected to be in the at-large hunt this season, Mullin didn’t really put together a schedule that will help his team reach that goal. For starters, the Red Storm will leave the Tri-State area just twice in non-league play, with only the February rematch with Duke at Cameron Indoor likely to provide a boost to the Johnnies’ profile. As for the 11 games scheduled for New York or New Jersey, St. John’s had better hope they win the Legends Classic and that Princeton challenges for the Ivy League crown.

325. Georgetown Hoyas

*Exempt Event: Jersey Mike’s Jamaica 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)
339. Maryland Eastern Shore 208. Loyola Marymount* 81. Illinois^
341. Central Connecticut State* 285. USF* 46. Syracuse
283. Campbell* ^ - Gavitt Games
113. Richmond
233. Liberty
24. SMU
255. Appalachian State
222. Little Rock
335. Howard

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Maryland Eastern Shore, @Richmond, Howard) and 1 loss (Syracuse)

While Patrick Ewing’s first Hoya team only finished with a .500 record, thanks to a season-ending five-game losing streak, Georgetown managed to provide its fan with glimmers of hope during Big East play and during its 10-1 run through a very weak non-conference slate. This year’s version, featuring nine teams ranked outside of the four-year ranking’s top 200 and a trip to Ewing’s native Jamaica for their exempt tournament, is slightly better, but still won’t help the Hoyas if they get themselves into the at-large picture in March. With SMU likely to take another step back and Illinois not likely to be Big Dance threat yet, a trip to former league rival Syracuse will almost assuredly be Georgetown’s only non-conference game that should feature a potential 2019 NCAA team.

340. DePaul Blue Demons

No Exempt Event

True Home Games (9) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) True Road Games (2)
328. Bethune-Cookman 20. Notre Dame
327. Morgan State 63. Northwestern
65. Penn State^
276. Cleveland State
350. Florida A&M
346. Chicago State
270. UIC
324. Incarnate Word
121. Boston College
^ - Gavitt Games

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@UIC) and 2 losses (Notre Dame, Northwestern)

While Georgetown’s schedule is bad, the Blue Demons’ is a little worse, thanks to the five home games against teams ranked among the bottom 50 and two more against teams ranked in the bottom 100. Road trips to Notre Dame and Northwestern and visits from Penn State and Boston College don’t really help boost DePaul’s slate. Making matters worse, DePaul is the lone power conference team not participating in an exempt tournament this season, which means the Blue Demons are quite possibly missing a couple of mid-tier games that would have improved this slate’s ranking. But with Dave Leitao’s second tour of duty in Chicago having only resulted in 29 wins, the Blue Demons should at least be able to enter Big East play with some wins and confidence this January.

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