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

Radford, the league’s 2018 NCAA Tournament representative, has its best non-conference schedule by a considerable margin.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-LIU Brooklyn vs. Radford Brian Spurlock-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

Over the past 10 seasons, the Big South champ has avoided the 16 seed line just twice—Winthrop’s 13 in 2017 and UNC Asheville’s 15 in the NCAA Tournament prior. While the conference representative has won a pair of Opening Round games in the interim (including Radford last season), the Eagles’ 2007 First Round win over Notre Dame was the league’s last victory in the main draw.

Even with the conference’s membership shift, a low seed is once again likely for this season’s representative. While the 289th-ranked Liberty is off to the ASUN, partly due to their jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision, USC Upstate (a ship passing in the night for the Flames) and MEAC power Hampton join the loop. But with both of those teams ranking outside of the top 250 in the four-year rankings, they help drop the conference’s overall standing by a spot when compared to 2017-18.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Winthrop 0.8853366 148 144
UNC Asheville 0.4436715 155 143
Radford -2.36815108 220 255
High Point -2.385663 221 207
Gardner-Webb -2.60843025 229 213
Hampton -4.591034 279 280
Campbell -4.690006 283 311
Charleston Southern -4.9250055 286 292
USC Upstate -6.476493965 314 250
Longwood -9.80149 343 341
Presbyterian -10.493255 345 349
Average -4.2736837 256.6363636 254.4
Conference Rank 28th of 32 (27th 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
22 Campbell 283 219 64
26 Radford 220 161 59
39 Charleston Southern 286 233 53
57 Hampton 279 240 39
79 Presbyterian 345 316 29
123 Longwood 343 331 12
209 USC Upstate 314 323 -9
280 Winthrop 148 177 -29
285 Gardner-Webb 229 259 -30
293 High Point 221 255 -34
349 UNC Asheville 155 270 -115

Defending tournament champion Radford is the most prominent of the six Big South teams KenPom projects will outperform their four-year rankings, though newcomer Hampton also falls within this group. Regular season champ UNC Asheville and Winthrop, which finished in a tie for second with Radford, are both projected to underperform, with the Bulldogs forecast to be more than 100 places worse than their four-year record.

Ranking The Schedules

While Radford’s schedule ranks in the top 40 in most categories and Longwood’s consistently ranks near the bottom of Division I, the remainder of the Big South’s slates rank in the middle of Division I. So, for the second season in a row the conference is ranked in the 20s across all four categories.

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
35 Radford 4.752192629 33 4.752192629 34 4.752192629 52 4.752192629 26
110 Charleston Southern 3.196816958 97 3.196816958 109 3.196816958 122 3.196816958 92
113 Winthrop 3.144460596 99 3.144460596 112 3.144460596 125 3.144460596 93
184 UNC Asheville 1.828825458 170 1.828825458 185 1.828825458 193 1.828825458 164
210 Gardner-Webb 1.419501061 199 1.419501061 209 1.419501061 219 1.419501061 198
222 Presbyterian 1.122121437 212 1.122121437 223 1.122121437 232 1.122121437 210
229 High Point 0.9535004714 225 0.9535004714 230 0.9535004714 238 0.9535004714 218
251 Hampton* 0.9935404458 220 0.6520149365 250 0.7268658077 256 0.5771640654 250
253 Campbell* 1.03349095 214 0.6451934777 251 0.8036142071 250 0.4867727482 260
254 USC Upstate 0.5925864675 253 0.5925864675 254 0.5925864675 264 0.5925864675 248
348 Longwood -2.59464929 347 -2.59464929 348 -2.59464929 348 -2.59464929 347
200.82 Average 1.494762471 188.09 1.428414927 200.45 1.449621437 209 1.407208418 191.45
23/32 Conference Rank 20 of 32 23 of 32 26 of 32 21 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

While the majority of Big South members over-scheduled this season, only three teams did so by more than 100 places, most prominently Radford. Of the three teams that under-scheduled, Longwood and High Point managed to keep their schedules within a single-digit margin of their four-year ranking.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
12 Longwood 343 346 -3
26 High Point 221 228 -7
57 Gardner-Webb 229 209 20
73 UNC Asheville 155 183 -28
77 Hampton 279 250 29
78 Campbell 283 252 31
84 Winthrop 148 113 35
143 USC Upstate 314 253 61
255 Presbyterian 345 221 124
302 Charleston Southern 286 110 176
309 Radford 220 35 185
128.7272727 Average (5/32 conf.) 256.6363636 200 56.63636364

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
60 0 24 33

While the Big South’s total number of non-conference home games and non-D1 contest both rose, keep in mind that the conference now has 11 members instead of the 10 of last season and league schedules have been reduced from 18 games to 16. Notably, Big South members will play one fewer road game against power conference foes than a season ago, even with the net addition of one team.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 33 0
SoCon 16 0
MEAC 13 0
ACC 11 0
A 10 10 0
OVC 9 0
Atlantic Sun 7 1
CAA 7 0
SEC 6 0
Sun Belt 6 0
MAC 4 0
Big East 3 0
MAAC 3 0
Horizon 2 1
American Athletic 2 0
Big South 2 0
Big Ten 2 0
MVC 2 0
Pac-12 2 0
Summit 2 0
SWAC 1 1
America East 1 0
Big 12 1 0
Big West 1 0
C-USA 1 0
Ivy 1 0
MW 1 0
NEC 1 0
WAC 1 0
WCC 1 0
Patriot 0 1
Big Sky 0 0
Southland 0 0

Other than the Atlantic 10 replacing the SEC and the MEAC and ACC swapping places, the top five conferences at the top of these standings remain unchanged from a season ago. Just three conferences are missing—with the Big Sky and Southland being slightly more understandable geographically than the Patriot League.

This table also provides our first scheduling anomaly, as Gardner-Webb will travel to USC Upstate to complete a non-conference home-and-home series that began last season. The pair will meet just once in Big South league play—now unbalanced—in Boiling Springs, N.C. on January 12th.

Furman is the name that appears most on Big South non-conference schedules—four times. Hampton will play a pair of former MEAC foes—archrivals Norfolk State and Howard, while USC Upstate won’t play a single former ASUN opponent. Liberty could meet Campbell in a December tournament in St. Petersburg, Fla., but that event provides the Camels with an even more interesting schedule anomaly, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Charleston Southern has four non-D1 opponents on its schedule, while nearly everyone else will play three. The lone exception is High Point, which scheduled just two such opponents this season. In terms of Division 1 matchups, Gardner-Webb will play in three ACC arenas, while High Point and UNC Asheville will each encounter a trio of SoCon foes and Longwood gets to take on three Atlantic 10 squads.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 0 26 0 26 2.363636364 0
Quad 2 0 14 0 14 1.272727273 0
Quad 3 6 13 5 24 2.181818182 0
Quad 4 21 21 13 55 5 4
Non-D1 33 0 0 33 3 0
Total 60 74 18 152
Average 5.454545455 6.727272727 1.636363636 13.81818182
Percentage 0.3947368421 0.4868421053 0.1184210526
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

Not only will Big South teams not host a single likely Quad 1 or 2 opponent this season, just one top 100 team from the four-year rankings is schedule to visit a conference member’s arena. That’s Winthrop’s home game against SoCon power East Tennessee State. However, there are 30 top 100 road games—15 against the top 50 alone—on league schedules. So, as usual, November and December will see Big South teams playing games against a variety of Quad 3, Quad 4, and non-D1 opponents who won’t help their seeding case when March arrives.

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.

35. Radford Highlanders

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (5) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (5) True Road Games (9)
(Non-D1) Davis & Elkins 20. Notre Dame*
270. UIC* 199. Duquesne*
(Non-D1) Glenville State 132. William & Mary*
162. Georgia Southern 43. Texas
(Non-D1) Mars Hill 192. James Madison
159. Ohio
29. Clemson
134. UNCG
32. Maryland

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

Last season’s Big South representative in the NCAAs should challenge for the auto bid once again. And with the road games on this slate—Clemson, Maryland, Notre Dame, Texas—the Highlanders could potentially have a NET ranking that keeps them off the 16 line if they get into the field. Still, Mike Jones’ club will need to win a few road games if they want to equal or better last season’s non-conference win total of seven.

110. Charleston Southern Buccaneers

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis (Mainland)

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Columbia Int'l. 347. Coppin State* # 16. Florida*
338. South Carolina State # - Spartanburg, S.C. 62. Middle Tennessee*
(Non-D1) Trinity Baptist* 53. Marquette
241. North Florida 126. Furman
(Non-D1) Johnson & Wales (N.C.) 241. North Florida
(Non-D1) Piedmont Int'l. 29. Clemson

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Columbia Int’l and Johnson & Wales (N.C.)) and 1 loss (@South Carolina State)

After following up 2014-15’s 19-win campaign with a nine-victory 2015-16, Barclay Radebaugh’s Buccaneers have consistently added three victories to their total in each subsequent season. But even with daunting road trips to Clemson, Florida, Marquette, and Middle Tennessee , Charleston Southern should be able to pick up enough non-conference wins that adding three more victories to last season total of 15 isn’t totally out of the question.

Note that even though the Bucs will play Coppin State at Wofford as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland event, they won’t play the host Terriers. Instead, CSU will play a non-D1 home game to complete their participation in the event. They’ll also play a home-and-home series with North Florida from the ASUN.

113. Winthrop Eagles

*Exempt Event: Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase

True Home Games (6) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) True Road Games (7)
(Non-D1) Pfeiffer* 47. Vanderbilt
95. ETSU 317. SIU Edwardsville
(Non-D1) Central Penn* 7. Kentucky*
(Non-D1) Hiwassee 230. Tennessee Tech
339. Maryland-Eastern Shore 60. Davidson
311. Prairie View A&M 150. Southern Illinois
26. Florida State

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (Winthrop) 1 win (Central Penn.) and 1 loss (Southern Illinois)

Pat Kelsey’s Eagles, tied for second in the Big South race a season ago, should be well-prepared to challenge for the conference crown once again. That’s thanks to a home game with ETSU and road trips to Davidson, Florida State, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. The game against the Wildcats is part of an exempt event that will sadly see the Eagles play a pair of non-D1 opponents as part of their participation.

Curiously, Winthrop will play at both SIU Edwardsville and Southern Illinois (Carbondale)—on separate trips.

184. UNC Asheville Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: KEMI Northern Kentucky Basketball Classic

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (7)
(Non-D1) St. Andrew's 190. Coastal Carolina* 59. N.C. State
126. Furman 244. Manhattan* 153. Northern Kentucky*
296. Western Carolina 254. UT Martin
(Non-D1) Milligan 64. Auburn
(Non-D1) Fayetteville State 151. Wofford
319. Stetson
47. Vanderbilt

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: (UNCA) 2 wins (Wofford, Milligan) and 3 losses (@Vanderbilt, @Furman, Western Carolina (N))

While Radford represented the conference in the NCAAs, the Bulldogs finished a game ahead of the Highlanders in the regular season standings and qualified for the NIT. However, that success led Middle Tennessee to hire Nicholas McDevitt away after five seasons, with Mike Morrell replacing him. Seven of UNC Asheville’s 21 wins came in November and December of 2017, though this road-heavy schedule will challenge the Bulldogs on the way toward equalling that total. Not only is their an exempt tournament at Horizon favorite Northern Kentucky, there are road games against at-large contenders Auburn, N.C. State, and Vanderbilt.

210. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs

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

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (7)
326. Savannah State 260. Eastern Illinois* 67. VCU
(Non-D1) Bob Jones* 139. UNCW* 49. Virginia Tech
(Non-D1) Johnson & Wales (N.C.) 234. Arkansas State* 126. Furman
300. Kennesaw State 326. Savannah State
(Non-D1) Brevard 314. USC Upstate
85. Georgia Tech
69. Wake Forest

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Brevard, USC Upstate) and 0 losses

Tim Craft’s fifth Bulldog team was the first to end the season with a losing record, with Gardner-Webb’s 5-8 non-conference record largely responsible for the deficit. Three ACC road games and an intriguing mid-major round-robin in Asheville mean that breaking even during non-league play could be a difficult task.

Not only is Gardner-Webb playing a non-conference game against a new league foe in USC Upstate, the Bulldogs will also take on a Savannah State team that’s in its final Division I season in a home-and-home series.

222. Presbyterian Blue Hose

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (On-Campus Only)

True Home Games (6) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (6) True Road Games (9)
(Non-D1) Welch* 117. College of Charleston
(Non-D1) Boyce* 230. Tennessee Tech*
325. St. Francis-Brooklyn 31. UCLA*
310. Jacksonville 115. UCF
331. VMI 342. N.C. A&T
(Non-D1) Trinity 21. Butler
77. Dayton
310. Jacksonville
338. South Carolina State

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State) and 1 loss (@VMI)

Dustin Kerns’ first Blue Hose team won six more games than Gregg Nibert’s final one—and still finished 10 games below .500. And this schedule, featuring trips to UCLA, UCF, Butler, and Dayton, will make it difficult for Presbyterian to finish above .500 in non-league play, as they did a season ago. While the Blue Hose will play a pair of home games as part of the Las Vegas Invitational, they won’t get to visit Nevada as a result. Presbyterian will also feature in a non-conference home-and-home series with Jacksonville out of the ASUN.

229. High Point Panthers

*Exempt Event: Bimini Jam

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (5)
151. Wofford 231. Air Force* 132. William & Mary
264. Eastern Kentucky 124. South Dakota* 242. East Carolina
296. Western Carolina 257. UMBC* 316. The Citadel
(Non-D1) N.C. Wesleyan 113. Richmond # 90. Valparaiso
(Non-D1) Washington (Md.) # - Washington, D.C. 35. Ohio State

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (William & Mary, @Western Carolina) and 2 losses (The Citadel, Wofford (N))

HPU alum Tubby Smith replaces Scott Cherry in what’s likely to be the final stop of what’s been a decorated career. Both the Panthers, who’ve suffered through two straight losing seasons, and Smith, who didn’t make many friends during a controversial two-season stint at Memphis, need each other. High Point’s first schedule under Smith is a balanced one, with the closing road trips to Valparaiso and Ohio State along with the Bimini Jam, which features NCAA Tournament darlings UMBC. Note that HPU will play RichmondRichmond as part of a doubleheader at the new arena in Washington, D.C. that’s home to the Mystics and the Wizards’ D-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go.

251. Hampton Pirates

*Exempt Event: GotPrint.com Legends Classic (Subregional)

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) True Road Games (7-8)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) True Road Games (7-8)
(Non-D1) Mid-Atlantic Christian 228. Bowling Green 67. VCU*
(Non-D1) Regent 304. Loyola (Md.) 101. California*
132. William & Mary (or Detroit Mercy)* 288. Detroit Mercy
(Non-D1) Saint Leo (or Loyola (Md.))*
113. Richmond
294. Norfolk State
190. Coastal Carolina
335. Howard
183. Saint Peter's

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (Saint Leo, Mid-Atlantic Christian, Norfolk State @Norfolk State, @Howard) and 2 losses (@William & Mary, Coastal Carolina)

Even though the Pirates have switched conferences, Edward Joyner Jr. didn’t need to adjust his non-league scheduling all that much—particularly with the Big South joining the MEAC in playing a 16-game conference schedule this season. That means the majority of Hampton’s most difficult road games will be part of their exempt tournament (the Las Vegas Invitational last season, the Legends Classic this time around) and there’s a heavy focus on Mid-Atlantic rivals. At least this slate doesn’t include a trip to Virginia.

Note that after a 5-10 start, the Pirates won 19 games and a share of the MEAC title this season. If Hampton can adjust to its new league surroundings, maybe a similar prize will await in March.

253. Campbell Fighting Camels

*Exempt Event: Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
139. UNCW 350. Florida A&M* 159. Ohio*
190. Coastal Carolina 247. Austin Peay* 68. Georgetown*
(Non-D1) Trinity Baptist 247. Austin Peay # 23. Miami (Fla.)
(Non-D1) Central Penn 233. Liberty or
316. The Citadel 337. Alabama State #
(Non-D1) Allen # - St. Petersburg, Fla.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (The Citadel, Allen, Liberty, @Liberty) and 2 losses (@UNCW, Liberty (N))

While the Fighting Camels are traveling to Montego Bay for the visitors’ portion of the second edition of the Jamaica Classic, the fact that MTE is using set matchups provides perhaps the oddest scheduling twist in all of college basketball season this season. Campbell will play Austin Peay twice on neutral-floors. I’m surprised the organizers of the Jamaica event didn’t pair the Camels against the team they’re set to miss (Central Connecticut State) since, you know, the matchups are preset.

Still, with just three true road games scheduled and that winnable December event in Florida, Kevin McGeehan’s squad should get off to a start that will enable them to surpass last season’s 18-win campaign that ended in the CBI semifinals.

254. USC Upstate Spartans

*Exempt Event: Portland Classic

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (3)
139. UNCW 350. Florida A&M* 159. Ohio*
190. Coastal Carolina 247. Austin Peay* 68. Georgetown*
(Non-D1) Trinity Baptist 247. Austin Peay # 23. Miami (Fla.)
(Non-D1) Central Penn 233. Liberty or
316. The Citadel 337. Alabama State #
(Non-D1) Allen # - St. Petersburg, Fla.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 0 wins and 1 loss (Gardner-Webb)

Not only are the Spartans in a new league this season, they have a new head coach, as Dave Dickerson replaced Kyle Perry, who went 7-25 in his interim season. Remember that longtime Upstate coach Eddie Payne retired before the 2017-18 season tipped off due to medical issues. While the Spartans won five non-league games last season, four of those victories came in non-D1 contests—and there are only three of those on this year’s slate. USC Upstate will play that many power conference road games (Georgia Tech, N.C. State, South Carolina) alone.

348. Longwood Lancers

*Exempt Event: Elgin Baylor Classic

True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (7)
(Non-D1) Randolph* 215. Fairfield* 113. Richmond
348. Delaware State 196. Denver* 339. Maryland-Eastern Shore
331. VMI 266. Charlotte
(Non-D1) Frostburg State 256. Seattle*
(Non-D1) Averett 199. Duquesne
319. Stetson 273. Cornell
316. The Citadel

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

Griff Aldrich will try to build a Lancers program that’s posted just one winning record in its 14 seasons as a transitional or full Division I member. Jayson Gee’s final Longwood squad posted just seven wins, with a mere three of those coming in non-conference play—with no Division I victims contributing to that total. That could change this season, as the Lancers will play no fewer than eight teams ranked outside of the top 250 in the four-year table.

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