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

In an upset, t’s defending champ Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis, not Long Beach State, who leads the Big West in non-league scheduling this season.

NCAA Basketball: Big West Conference Tournament_Fullerton v. Irvine Robert Hanashiro-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

While the Big West’s NCAA seeding over the past 10 seasons has varied from the 12 Long Beach State earned in 2012 to a pair of Opening Round appearances, fully half of the conference’s auto bid winners have earned 15 seeds in that span, including last season’s—Cal State Fullerton. 2016’s Hawai’i squad, the second of consecutive 13 seeds the league earned, was the last Big West team to earn a Round of 64 victory, taking down California.

Even though five Big West teams rank in the top 200 of the four-year rankings this time around, compared to three a season ago, UC Irvine dropped out of the top 100 and Hawai’i out of the top 150. And with those declines, it’s likely 2019’s champ will once again earn a 15 seed.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
UC Irvine 1.969305 119 100
UC Davis -0.3284675 169 218
Long Beach State -0.4705865 173 156
Hawai'i -0.6115095 179 149
UC Santa Barbara -0.687999 181 201
Cal State Fullerton -2.422633 225 272
UC Riverside -4.6335045 281 274
Cal Poly -5.1950375 295 243
Cal State Northridge -5.8788355 303 265
Average -2.028807556 213.8888889 208.6666667
Conference Rank 20th of 32 (20th 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
8 Cal State Fullerton 225 137 88
95 UC Irvine 119 97 22
181 UC Davis 169 172 -3
225 UC Santa Barbara 181 195 -14
239 Cal Poly 295 313 -18
277 Long Beach State 173 201 -28
278 UC Riverside 281 309 -28
291 Cal State Northridge 303 336 -33
300 Hawai'i 179 217 -38

But KenPom’s preseason projections offer some hope. as both 2018 champ Cal State Fullerton and league power UC Irvine are forecast to exceed their four-year rankings. KenPom projects UC Irvine to be a top 100, with Fullerton clearly in the top 150. With every other team in the conference forecast to slip a bit, an Anteater or Titan auto bid looks like the best way to pick up a higher seed—while looking ahead in November, at least.

Ranking The Schedules

Last season, Big West schedules were respectable on average, with the conference ranking in the top half of Division I across the board, thanks in no small part to Long Beach State’s top 15 slate and three other teams in the top 100. But in 2018-19, the 49ers schedule isn’t even in the top 100, with Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis in the second 50 nationally. And with every other team in the league situated in the bottom half of D1, it’s not surprising that the Big West ranks in the mid-20s in each category this season.

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
65 Cal State Fullerton** 3.576736447 86 3.952672822 74 4.862812669 47 3.480409599 78
75 UC Davis 3.899903435 67 3.899903435 75 3.899903435 88 3.899903435 59
105 Long Beach State* 3.320642167 90 3.206962832 107 3.325359344 111 3.08856632 98
185 UC Irvine** 1.759192561 176 1.834600428 184 2.133922647 175 1.555865477 185
215 Cal Poly 1.253007126 207 1.253007126 215 1.253007126 225 1.253007126 205
266 Hawai'i**** -1.0346794 322 0.4118575464 268 1.461569893 217 -0.701113925 305
291 Cal State Northridge* -0.1121414382 282 -0.1703210127 291 -0.1322496616 293 -0.2083923639 288
293 UC Riverside -0.1990842497 288 -0.1990842497 293 -0.1990842497 297 -0.1990842497 287
339 UC Santa Barbara -1.386776337 335 -1.386776337 337 -1.386776337 339 -1.386776337 336
203.77 Average 1.23075559 205.88 1.422535843 204.88 1.690940541 199.11 1.198042787 204.55
25/32 Conference Rank 26 of 32 24 of 32 24 of 32 24 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

The Big West is another conference with a fairly even split of over-schedulers (five) and those who aimed a bit lower than their four-year rankings (four). Not surprisingly, the three best schedules in the league all belong to teams that overdid it to an extent, though Cal State Fullerton’s 160-place gap between their slate and four-year record might end up being a bit much for the Titans.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
36 UC Riverside 281 292 -11
42 Cal State Northridge 303 290 13
148 UC Irvine 119 184 -65
158 Long Beach State 173 105 68
189 Cal Poly 295 214 81
198 Hawai'i 179 265 -86
215 UC Davis 169 75 94
287 UC Santa Barbara 181 337 -156
293 Cal State Fullerton 225 65 160
174 Average (17/32 conf.) 213.8888889 203 10.88888889

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
56 1 21 17

Big West members will play three more true home games when compared to a season ago, even if the number of home contests against Power 7 teams declined by two. While Long Beach State will definitely host Oregon State, Hawai’i could host both Colorado and TCU if things break right in the Diamond Head Classic over Christmas week. There were only slight changes in the number of D1 home games (a drop of one) and Power 7 road games (an increase of one) when compared to last season.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
WCC 24 0
Pac-12 17 1
Non-D1 17 0
Big Sky 15 1
MW 10 2
WAC 5 2
C-USA 4 2
MAC 3 1
Summit 3 1
Sun Belt 3 1
SEC 3 0
SWAC 3 0
Big Ten 2 1
CAA 2 0
MEAC 2 0
OVC 2 0
Southland 2 0
MAAC 1 3
American Athletic 1 1
Big East 1 1
MVC 1 1
America East 1 0
Big South 1 0
Ivy 1 0
A 10 0 3
ACC 0 2
Big 12 0 2
Atlantic Sun 0 1
Horizon 0 1
Patriot 0 1
NEC 0 0
SoCon 0 0

Not surprisingly, Western leagues dominate Big West schedules with no conference centered away from the Mountain and Pacific time zones accounting for more than five games in total. For the second straight season, nine conferences don’t have a single scheduled contest against Big West opposition, but seven of these could encounter a league squad in the later rounds of an exempt tournament.

Big West teams are playing six more games against WCC opponents than a season ago with many of those games likely scheduled against WAC squads last year—as that conference’s total dropped from nine games in 2017-18 to five this time around.

Big Sky squad Sacramento State will play five Big West opponents in 2018-19, while a trio of WCC squads—Loyola Marymount, Portland, former league member Pacific—will play four conference squads apiece. On the flip side, three Big West teams scheduled five games against opponents from a single conference: Long Beach State (Pac-12), Cal State Northridge (WCC), and UC Santa Barbara (Big Sky). Cal State Fullerton also managed to line up four WCC contests.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 0 18 1 19 2.111111111 3
Quad 2 0 10 0 10 1.111111111 8
Quad 3 10 24 3 37 4.111111111 14
Quad 4 27 5 9 41 4.555555556 3
Non-D1 17 0 0 17 1.888888889 0
Total 56 57 13 124
Average 6.222222222 6.333333333 1.444444444 13.77777778
Percentage 0.4516129032 0.4596774194 0.1048387097
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

While Hawai’i could play a pair of top 100 teams in the later rounds of the Diamond Head Classic, as it stands now, no Big West team is guaranteed to host such a team during the non-conference—based on the four-year ratings anyway. However, 24 such opportunities will be available in true road games, with a smattering of possibilities—12 in fact—possible in exempt tournaments, though the Rainbow Warriors’ Wooden Legacy opener with Utah is the only such game that’s guaranteed.

An overwhelming majority of Big West home games—44 of 56—are scheduled to feature either a Quad 4 opponent or non-D1 squad.

With Hawai’i a conference member, each team is eligible to play an additional game due to the NCAA’s Hawai’i exemption—meaning the maximum Big West schedule is 32 games. Just four teams—Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside—took advantage of this rule this season.

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.

65. Cal State Fullerton Titans

*Exempt Event: Myrtle Beach Invitational

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (7)
(Non-D1) West Coast Baptist 115. UCF* 70. Arizona State
(Non-D1) Cal Lutheran 69. Wake Forest or 141. Hofstra
208. Loyola Marymount 111. Saint Joseph's* 289. Sacramento State
251. Portland 9. West Virginia/ 19. Saint Mary's
90. Valparaiso/ 142. San Francisco
120. Monmouth/ 72. Nebraska
127. WKU* 100. Washington

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (CSUF) 4 wins (Sacramento State, Cal Lutheran, @Portland, @Loyola Marymount) and 1 loss (@Saint Mary’s)

The Titans won 20 games a season ago, though they needed to win the Big West’s auto bid to hit that total. The highlight of last season’s non-conference campaign was either a win at Utah Valley or one over Harvard in the fifth-place game of the Wooden Legacy, played on Fullerton’s home floor. This time around, Dedrique Taylor’s squad travels across the country—to Conway, S.C.—for its exempt tournament, where they’ll face American Athletic title contender UCF in the Myrtle Beach Invitational quarterfinals. And the Knights aren’t the only at-large threat Fullerton will face as part of a daunting November and December slate—thanks to road trips to Arizona State, Nebraska, Saint Mary’s, and Washington.

75. UC Davis Aggies

*Exempt Event: Hardwood Showcase

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (7)
142. San Francisco 246. Texas A&M Corpus Christi* ! 289. Sacramento State $ 40. Arkansas*
186. San Diego ! - Arlington, Texas $ - Golden 1 Center 102. UT Arlington*
329. Northern Arizona 44. Indiana*
(Non-D1) William Jessup 212. Northern Illinois
(Non-D1) Holy Names 13. Arizona
208. Loyola Marymount
52. USC

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Sacramento State (N), William Jessup, Holy Names) and 1 loss (@San Francisco)

While Jim Les couldn’t get the Aggies to a second straight NCAA Tournament, they did claim the Big West regular season title outright and won more than 20 games for the third time in four seasons. UC Davis is poised to contend again, and they’ll be well-prepared for Big West play thanks to trips to Arkansas, Indiana, UT Arlington (all part of the Ags’ exempt event), Arizona, and USC.

105. Long Beach State 49ers

*Exempt Event: MGM Resorts Main Event (Middleweight Bracket)

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) Menlo 302. Hartford* 31. UCLA
125. Oregon State 112. Iona or 70. Arizona State*
323. Southern Utah 174. Utah Valley* 73. Mississippi State*
235. Pepperdine 52. USC
146. Colorado State 186. San Diego
(Non-D1) Bethesda 88. Fresno State
202. Pacific
79. Stanford

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (LBSU) 3 wins (Oregon State (N), Stanford, @Pepperdine), 4 losses (@Oregon State, Fresno State, @Southern Utah, @Colorado State)

With road games against a quartet of Pac-12 squads and SEC at-large threat Mississippi State, it’s another gauntlet for Dan Monson’s team, who went 15-18 in 2017-18, while recording six wins in 16 non-conference games. Still, Oregon State—a familiar face the 49ers played twice a season ago—visits the Walter Pyramid and the Beach will feature in an intriguing Middleweight Bracket at the MGM Resorts Main Event, featuring a semifinal game against America East favorite Hartford and a second day matchup against either perennial MAAC power Iona or WAC contender Utah Valley .

185. UC Irvine Anteaters

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (7)
182. Idaho 245. UTSA* 138. FGCU 34. Texas A&M
(Non-D1) Life Pacific* 94. South Dakota State or (or Louisiana/ 216. Santa Clara
133. Utah State 194. Tulane* Toledo/ 19. Saint Mary's
118. Montana 96. Louisiana/ Colorado State)* (Transitional) Cal Baptist
196. Denver 114. Toledo/ 147. Eastern Michigan
318. UT Rio Grande Valley 146. Colorado State 21. Butler
(or FGCU)* 202. Pacific

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@Denver, Idaho (N)) and 5 losses (@South Dakota State, @Utah State, @UTRGV, @Saint Mary’s, @Montana)

The Anteaters, vanquished by Cal State Fullerton in the Big West final, were supposed to take part in the Vancouver Showcase, which is why they visit both Texas A&M and Santa Clara early in the season. But since that event’s organizers, BD Global Sports, struggled to build a visitor’s bracket for the inaugural event, Russell Turner’s squad will instead head to an intriguing Gulf Coast Showcase (run by the same promoter). In Florida, a UTSA squad poised to finally make noise in Conference USA will await in the quarterfinals, while mid-major powers South Dakota State, Louisiana, and FGCU lurk further down the bracket.

But the quality doesn’t stop there on this schedule that the metrics might not give enough respect to, as a pair of Big Sky contenders—Montana and Idaho—visit the Bren Events Center, while Irvine also travels to Saint Mary’s and Butler.

215. Cal Poly Mustangs

*Exempt Event: Portland Classic

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) Menlo 203. Texas State* 13. Arizona
328. Bethune-Cookman 314. USC Upstate* 289. Sacramento State
102. UT Arlington 194. Washington State
(Non-D1) Holy Names 251. Portland*
88. Fresno State
101. California
168. Cal State Bakersfield
226. Siena

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Holy Names) and 4 losses (@California, Fresno State, @Bethune-Cookman, @UT Arlington)

The Mustangs last finished above .500 in 2013—and 2018’s total of nine wins is half what Cal Poly accumulated in that season. Joe Callero’s squad won just five non-leage games a year ago. And with just four home games, a trio of Pac-12 road games, and a round-robin tournament at Portland, the Mustangs will likely have to rack up victories in Big West play to show any signs of improvement.

266. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

Exempt Events: *Wooden Legacy and !Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
251. Portland^ 36. Utah* 31. UCLA
(Non-D1) Humboldt State^ 37. Seton Hall or
271. North Texas^ 140. Grand Canyon*
329. Northern Arizona 23. Miami (Fla.)/
(Non-D1) Hawai'i-Hilo 63. Northwestern/
349. Mississippi Valley State 88. Fresno State/
143. UNLV ! 166. La Salle*
76. Colorado or
164. Indiana State !
45. TCU/
48. Rhode Island/
108. Bucknell/
266. Charlotte !
351. Alabama A&M
^ - Rainbow Classic

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Hawai’i-Hilo) and 2 losses (@Utah, Miami (Fla.))

Eran Ganot’s Rainbow Warriors will play in a pair of bracketed events in familiar buildings this season—the Wooden Legacy at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Gym and their own Diamond Head Classic. Good performances in those events will be necessary if Hawai’i wants to boost their own metrics and that of the conference because other than a trip to UCLA, the slate is full of low-calorie home games.

291. Cal State Northridge Matadors

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
106. New Mexico 317. SIU Edwardsville* 235. Pepperdine
251. Portland 177. Rider or 208. Loyola Marymount
197. Tennessee State 214. Northern Colorado* 194. Washington State
289. Sacramento State 186. San Diego*
(Non-D1) Cal State San Marcos 71. New Mexico State*
202. Pacific 54. San Diego State
327. Morgan State
136. Yale

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Morgan State) and 2 losses (Loyola Marymount, @Sacramento State)

Reggie Theus ran out of hang time after a 6-24 campaign that resulted in the Matadors missing the Big West Tournament. Theus’ replacement is former Alabama and N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, who’s already been connected to the FBI investigation into college basketball, which he denies contractually. Potential distractions aside, CSUN has a schedule that allows for potential improvement, as a road trip to New Mexico State in the on-campus round of the Las Vegas Classic is the only game the Matadors will play outside of the Pacific Time Zone. They even get a New Mexico squad that could contend for an NCAA bid to visit the Matadome to open the season on November 6th.

293 UC Riverside Highlanders

*Exempt Event: Pacific Classic

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) UC Merced* 309. Abilene Christian* 125. Oregon State
(Transitional) Cal Baptist 198. Elon* 211. Portland State
235. Pepperdine 143. UNLV
(Non-D1) Life Pacific 202. Pacific*
208. Loyola Marymount 90. Valparaiso
(Non-D1) Bethesda 209. UTEP
231. Air Force
170. Western Michigan

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Air Force, Valparaiso, UC Merced) and 4 losses (@Loyola Marymount, Portland State, Pacific, @Pepperdine)

After winning a total of 17 games in his final two seasons in charge, Dennis Cutts was relieved of his duties in Riverside, with David Patrick taking over a program that last finished above .500 a full decade ago (2008-09). While the Highlanders opened the season by winning at California and also knocked off Valparaiso during non-league play, those were among the rare highlights of a nine-win campaign. This schedule, featuring trips to Oregon State, UNLV, and a vengeful Valpo squad, along with an exempt round-robin at Pacific and first ever Division I meeting with crosstown rival Cal Baptist, likely won’t get UC Riverside on track.

339. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

*Exempt Event: Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
(Non-D1) Cal Lutheran* 211. Portland State* # 182. Idaho* # 129. Wyoming
274. Montana State # - Boise, Idaho # - Boise, Idaho 161. North Dakota State
289. Sacramento State 100. Washington
344. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 250. Rice
299. Idaho State 217. Omaha
142. San Francisco
(Non-D1) Bethedsa

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (UCSB) 5 wins (North Dakota State, @San Francisco, Omaha, @Montana State, @Sacramento State)

Joe Pasternack’s first Gaucho team won 17 more games than Bob Williams’ final squad—and UCSB didn’t even need to participate in a national postseason tournament to complete that jump. This manageable schedule should get UCSB off on the right foot this season—the most difficult road games look to be at Washington and Wyoming. Plus, the Gauchos will get to play a pair of Big Sky teams as part of Idaho’s exempt event in Boise, while the Vandals and Portland State will both need to play a neutral-site game against non-D1 Northwest Nazarene as part of the proceedings.

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