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

While the defending champs from College of Charleston will challenge Northeastern for the 2019 crown, the Huskies enter the new season with a superior non-conference schedule.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Auburn vs Charleston Jake Roth-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

From a seeding perspective, realignment hit few conferences harder than the CAA. Up until the departures of George Mason and VCU after the 2012 NCAAs, CAA representatives regularly earned seeds ranging from 8 to 12. Since, the high water mark was the 12 UNCW secured in 2017, with 13 being the most frequent landing spot for the Colonial’s auto bid winner. Thankfully, JMU’s 16 in 2013 was an anomaly.

With the power conferences increasingly dominating the at-large pool—and, therefore, seed lines 1 through 11—it’s difficult for the 13th-ranked conference to rise higher than a 13. And that’s even more true when none of that conference’s members rank within the top 100 of the four-year ranking.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Northeastern 2.1208297 116 138
College of Charleston 2.0408 117 133
William & Mary 1.4706952 132 113
UNCW 1.23768425 139 91
Hofstra 1.0859419 141 132
Towson 0.5818435 152 152
James Madison -1.305825 192 173
Elon -1.5684267 198 170
Drexel -3.7078425 263 242
Delaware -4.632003 280 269
Average -0.267630265 173 161.3
Conference Rank 13th of 32 (13th 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
56 James Madison 192 153 39
58 Delaware 280 241 39
61 Northeastern 116 78 38
104 College of Charleston 117 99 18
147 William & Mary 132 128 4
229 Hofstra 141 156 -15
238 Elon 198 216 -18
286 Drexel 263 293 -30
316 UNCW 134 184 -50
340 Towson 152 230 -78

But KenPom’s preseason numbers for half of the CAA forecast some level of improvement over the four-year rankings, with the two teams expected to challenge for the league title, 2018 champ College of Charleston and 2019 favorite Northeastern, forecast to make big jumps. In fact, the Huskies’ projected 38-place increase would put them right in the top 80. They’d be a threat for a 12 seed if their NET ranking is similar or higher.

Ranking The Schedules

Northeastern certainly scheduled like a team that wants to make waves nationally, as the Huskies’ slate ranks in the top 16 in three of the four categories. Unfortunately, the rest of the CAA didn’t follow Bill Coen’s lead. Six of the 10 teams have schedules that rank outside of the top 200 in the “Super Average,” with Delaware, Drexel, and JMU all ranked 300th or lower. That’s buried the league in the bottom quartile of Division I for the second year in a row.

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
19 Northeastern** 5.50463504 16 5.838077232 15 6.933470429 9 4.340958817 37
58 William & Mary 4.149056652 54 4.149056652 60 4.149056652 78 4.149056652 45
123 UNCW 2.815162218 117 2.815162218 122 2.815162218 141 2.815162218 110
163 College of Charleston** 0.8981223886 233 2.126129544 164 3.622169733 98 0.9101881933 228
241 Towson*** 1.804155628 174 0.8102862794 242 1.612610219 207 -0.01040992115 275
255 Hofstra 0.5865510058 254 0.5865510058 255 0.5865510058 265 0.5865510058 249
292 Elon -0.1778443038 287 -0.1778443038 292 -0.1778443038 296 -0.1778443038 285
300 Delaware -0.5025186923 294 -0.5025186923 301 -0.5025186923 304 -0.5025186923 296
317 Drexel -0.8407702827 315 -0.8407702827 317 -0.8407702827 322 -0.8407702827 309
333 James Madison -1.237858042 330 -1.237858042 333 -1.237858042 335 -1.237858042 331
210.1 Average 1.299869161 207.4 1.356627161 210.1 1.696002894 205.5 1.003251564 216.5
26/32 Conference Rank 24 of 32 26 of 32 23 of 32 27 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

And with so many lowly-ranked non-conference slates, it’s not surprising that the majority of the CAA under-scheduled this year, including College of Charleston. Northeastern, whose slate is ranked a whopping 97 places above their four-year record, leads the three-team minority of over-schedulers by 23 points over William & Mary.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
35 UNCW 134 123 11
54 Delaware 280 299 -19
116 College of Charleston 117 163 -46
127 Drexel 263 316 -53
168 William & Mary 132 58 74
201 Towson 152 240 -88
210 Elon 198 291 -93
224 Northeastern 116 19 97
242 Hofstra 141 254 -113
276 James Madison 192 331 -139
165.3 Average (15/32 conf.) 172.5 209.4 -36.9

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 3 11 12

As a whole, the CAA will play 10 more non-conference home games than a season ago, an average of one per team. Even more remarkably, non-D1 opponents aren’t responsible for this jump, as Colonial members will host three fewer lower-tier opponents than they did last season. And for the second year in a row, three Power 7 teams will visit CAA opponents, as UNCW welcomes both Stanford and East Carolina, while Elon welcomes North Carolina to open the Schar Center on November 9th.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
A 10 15 2
Non-D1 12 0
MAAC 9 1
SoCon 8 0
Big South 7 0
Patriot 7 0
ACC 6 2
America East 6 0
MEAC 6 0
American Athletic 5 2
C-USA 5 2
MAC 4 2
Ivy 4 0
Sun Belt 3 2
Big Ten 3 1
Atlantic Sun 3 0
Horizon 3 0
NEC 3 0
Big West 2 0
SEC 2 0
WCC 2 0
Big 12 1 1
Southland 1 1
Summit 1 1
OVC 1 0
Pac-12 1 0
WAC 1 0
Big East 0 1
Big Sky 0 1
SWAC 0 1
MVC 0 0
MW 0 0

CAA squads will play teams from a variety of conferences, primarily in the East and South, this season, with the Atlantic 10 jumping the generic “Non-D1” group to lead the way in 2018-19. Just five conferences are missing, with the Big East being the biggest surprise among the group.

Boston University and UNCG are the only non-conference opponents that appear on more than two CAA schedules. Former conference members East Carolina, George Mason, Old Dominion, and VCU will each play a pair of current CAA squads. Meanwhile, Hofstra will play three MAAC members, and a trio of CAA teams (Charleston, JMU, and William & Mary) have three A 10 opponents lined up. The Tribe also lined up three Big South games, while UNCW takes on that number of SoCon foes.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 1 11 0 12 1.2 6
Quad 2 3 10 3 16 1.6 1
Quad 3 11 16 1 28 2.8 8
Quad 4 29 15 9 53 5.3 5
Non-D1 12 0 0 12 1.2 0
Total 56 52 13 121
Average 5.6 5.2 1.3 12.1
Percentage 0.4628099174 0.4297520661 0.1074380165
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 Elon’s visit from UNC is likely to be the CAA’s lone home Quad 1 win opportunity, five other top 100 teams will visit conference arenas this fall. Somewhat surprisingly, CAA teams will only play 15 top 100 teams on the road.

College of Charleston and Northeastern will both participate in exempt tournaments that could them give opportunities to make early national noise, as I detail below.

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.

19. Northeastern Huskies

*Exempt Event: Charleston Classic

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (5)
236. Boston University 55. Alabama* 130. Harvard
147. Eastern Michigan 49. Virginia Tech or 60. Davidson*
131. Oakland 172. Ball State* 108. Bucknell
74. St. Bonaventure 8. Purdue/ 46. Syracuse
12. Wichita State/ 78. Vermont
60. Davidson/
255. Appalachian State*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (@Boston University, Harvard, Bucknell, Vermont) and 1 loss (@St. Bonaventure)

The Huskies’ 2017-18 season ended with a CAA final loss to the College of Charleston. After looking at this schedule, it’s clear Bill Coen wants his team ready to take that next step—without hesitation. Northeastern can make some early noise in the Charleston Classic, where potential games against Virginia Tech and Purdue could await with a win over Alabama in the quarterfinals. Beyond that, 2018 NCAA at-large team St. Bonaventure visits Matthews Arena, while all five road trips feature potential NCAA squads.

If the Huskies win the CAA, this non-conference schedule might just result in a 10 or 11 seed instead of a 12 or 13.

58. William & Mary Tribe

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (5) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (5) True Road Games (7)
221. High Point 199. Duquesne*
220. Radford* 270. UIC*
111. Saint Joseph's 20. Notre Dame*
185. George Mason 145. Marshall
(Non-D1) William Peace 83. Old Dominion
279. Hampton
2. Virginia

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Hampton, Old Dominion, Marshall) and 1 loss (@High Point)

Tony Shaver has built a non-conference schedule designed to prepare the Tribe for CAA play, and more importantly, the conference tournament. But will it be enough for William & Mary to finally earn its first-ever NCAA bid? Big South champ Radford, former CAA rival George Mason, and Saint Joseph’s, who like the Patriots could contend in the A 10, are the trickiest home games that the Tribe will have to navigate. However, trips to Notre Dame, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Virginia will severely test the tournament hopefuls.

123. UNCW Seahawks

*Exempt Event: VisitCurrituckOBX.com Battle in the Blue Ridge

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (5)
79. Stanford 234. Arkansas State* 283. Campbell
134. UNCG 229. Gardner-Webb* 5. North Carolina
(Non-D1) Allen* 260. Eastern Illinois* 126. Furman
242. East Carolina 110. Georgia State
60. Davidson 154. Mercer

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Campbell) and 4 losses (@Davidson, @East Carolina, @UNCG, Furman)

The Seahawks saw their win total decline by 18 games in C.B. McGrath’s first season, and a 3-9 start didn’t help matters. While six teams on UNCW’s 2018 non-conference slate rank outside of the top 200, including all three squads the Seahawks will encounter at the Battle in the Blue Ridge in Asheville, the rest of the schedule is quite difficult. And that’s even true with Stanford visiting Trask Coliseum and the trip to Chapel Hill serving as UNCW’s lone Power 7 road game.

163. College of Charleston Cougars

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
345. Presbyterian 80. LSU* 26. Florida State 296. Western Carolina
48. Rhode Island 135. UAB (or UAB)* 38. Oklahoma State*
338. South Carolina State (or Florida State)* 226. Siena
266. Charlotte 1. Villanova/ 67. VCU
(Non-D1) Georgia College 38. Oklahoma State/
190. Coastal Carolina 104. Memphis/
165. Canisius*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (Siena, @Charlotte, Western Carolina, South Carolina State, @Coastal Carolina) and 1 loss (@Rhode Island)

Last March, Earl Grant’s Cougars broke through for the program’s first NCAA bid since 1999. And as the new season starts, Charleston is expected to challenge Northeastern for yet another trip. With visiting Rhode Island likely to take a step back and VCU isa a question mark, the Cougars’ three games at the Advocare Invitational at Walt Disney World, and the trip to Oklahoma State that goes along with it, will serve as the most difficult tests for the College this fall. Perhaps fortuitously, Grant’s squad opens play in Florida with LSU, a team they beat at TD Arena back in November of 2015.

241. Towson Tigers

*Exempt Event: Islands of the Bahamas Showcase

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (4-5) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (4-5) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
(Non-D1) Wesley* 235. Pepperdine* 166. La Salle 2. Virginia
304. Loyola (Md.) 162. Georgia Southern or (or Alabama A&M) # 128. George Washington
78. Vermont 278. FAU* # - Atlantic City 327. Morgan State
273. Cornell 118. Montana/ 257. UMBC
161. North Dakota State/
237. Miami (Ohio)/
324. Incarnate Word*
194. Tulane #
351. Alabama A&M
(or La Salle) #
# - Atlantic City

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 6 wins (@Loyola (Md.), FAU (N), Georgia Southern (N), Morgan State, UMBC, La Salle (N))

Last season, Pat Skerry’s Tigers got off to a 10-1 start, complete a pair of championships from the Gulf Coast Showcase and Belfast Basketball Classic. But Towson couldn’t keep it together, as a four-game skid bridging the transition from non-league to CAA play and another at the end of the season—and a whole lot of inconsistency in between—meant the Tigers finished at 18-14. For the second season in a row, Towson will play in a pair of early season tournaments, and the fields in this season’s Islands of the Bahamas Showcase and Battle at the Boardwalk aren’t all that different than the ones encountered in Florida and Northern Ireland a season ago. At first glance, the two most daunting names on the Tigers’ 2018 non-league schedule appear to be Virginia and Vermont, with the Catamounts visiting SECU Arena. But then you look closer and see the team that stunned the Cavaliers in the first 16-over-1 NCAA upset ever—UMBC—who host their neighbors in Catonsville.

255. Hofstra Pride

*Exempt Event: Maryland MTE

True Home Games (7) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) True Road Games (6)
238. Mount St. Mary's* 145. Marshall*
342. N.C. A&T* 32. Maryland*
225. Cal State Fullerton 67. VCU
226. Siena 300. Kennesaw State
120. Monmouth 244. Manhattan
177. Rider 180. Stony Brook
(Non-D1) Rosemont

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (Kennesaw State, @Monmouth, @Rider, @Stony Brook) and 2 losses (@Siena, Manhattan (N))

After posting 19 wins a season ago, a four-win improvement over 2017-18, Joe Mihalich’s Pride is poised to challenge for yet another upper-division finish. Thanks to Hofstra’s participation in the Charleston Classic and Jay Wright’s homecoming game at Nassau Coliseum, last season’s non-conference schedule was significantly more difficult than this one. The first three road tests of this season—against Marshall, Maryland, and VCU—are likely to be the most difficult foes the Pride will encounter before CAA play tips off.

292. Elon Phoenix

*Exempt Event: Pacific Classic

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (4)
5. North Carolina 309. Abilene Christian* 244. Manhattan
(Non-D1) Milligan* 281. UC Riverside* 202. Pacific*
(Non-D1) Central Penn 300. Kennesaw State
236. Boston University 268. UMKC
126. Furman
134. UNCG
165. Canisius

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@Boston University) and 4 losses (@Furman, @UNCG, @Canisius)

The Phoenix depart cozy Alumni Gym for the sparkling new Schar Center this season, with North Carolina the most notable of the seven non-conference visitors who will help Elon break in its new digs in November and December. While Matt Matheny’s team won just 14 games a season ago, eight of those victories came before CAA play. And thanks to the home slate and plenty of winnable road trips, including three games at Pacific‘s exempt round-robin, Elon should be able to get off to a strong start once again.

300. Delaware Blue Hens

*Exempt Event: Delaware Invitational

True Home Games (7) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Chestnut Hill* 32. Maryland
(Non-D1) Wilmington* 183. Saint Peter's
134. UNCG* 273. Cornell
123. Louisiana Tech* 339. Maryland-Eastern Shore
227. Navy 200. Columbia
253. St. Francis (Pa.) 180. Stony Brook
348. Delaware State

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@Delaware State, Cornell) and 2 losses (@UNCG, @Navy)

The Blue Hens won 14 games in Martin Inglesby’s second season in charge, with UD entering CAA play with a winning non-conference mark of 7-6. An improvement is possible with this 13-game slate, as a trip to Maryland is the only truly scary road game on the slate and the Blue Hens welcome UNCG and Louisiana Tech to Newark for an exempt event—a season after they visited Greensboro for the Spartans’ own tournament.

317. Drexel Dragons

*Exempt Event: Hub City Classic

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
(Non-D1) Bryn Athyn* 86. Temple ! 291. Quinnipiac # 147. Eastern Michigan*
236. Boston University* ! - The Palestra # - Uncasville, Conn. 167. Rutgers*
261. NJIT 166. La Salle
272. Robert Morris 228. Bowling Green
304. Loyola (Md.) 92. UConn
257. UMBC

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@La Salle) and 5 losses (Bowling Green, @NJIT, @Robert Morris, @Temple, @Loyola (Md.))

A Paradise Jam win over Houston was the high point of Zach Spiker’s second season at the DAC, though the Dragons posted a four-win improvement over 2016-17. This time around, a balanced schedule might lead to Drexel improving upon its half-dozen non-conference wins of 2017. The most difficult foe looks to be Temple, and the Dragons will host their Philly rivals right next to campus at the Palestra, though that’s a second home to Owl coach Fran Dunphy, who’s heading into retirement after this season.

333. James Madison Dukes

*Exempt Event: Men Against Breast Cancer Oakland Classic

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Eastern Mennonite 212. Northern Illinois* 242. East Carolina
(Non-D1) Bridgewater* 223. Oral Roberts* 266. Charlotte
316. The Citadel 131. Oakland*
347. Coppin State 83. Old Dominion
220. Radford 185. George Mason
232. Fordham

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (JMU) 2 wins (Bridgewater, Charlotte) and 4 losses (Old Dominion, @Radford, George Mason, @The Citadel)

Louis Rowe has won 20 games in his two seasons in charge in Harrisonburg, one fewer than the 21 Matt Brady posted in his final season in charge. And with just six of Rowe’s victories coming in non-conference play, this regionally-focused schedule (with the exception of the three games played in Michigan as part of Oakland‘s exempt tournament) might be what the Dukes need to get off to a better start in season three.

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