Saturday, January 4, 2014

Conference schedule imbalances, part 1

This post is here to serve as a handy primer to conference schedules.  Most conferences have imbalanced schedules because they're so frickin' huge now.  This post will just cover the top 7 traditional power conferences.  (we'll cover other conferences later, maybe).

12 teams, 18 conference games
Each team plays 7 teams twice, 4 teams once

1) Arizona as the premier team, only gets UCLA once, on the road.  They will play all other relevant teams twice.  This means extra signature win chances everywhere for the bubble teams.  This also means Arizona's chance at a #1 seed beefens up a bit.

2) Oregon and Colorado are arguably the #2 and #3 teams.  But they meet only once, and it's right away - it's tomorrow, in Boulder.
3) Oregon also misses a trip to northern California for the Cal/Stanford trip.  That's a blow to Cal/Stanford both, as they figure to be bubble teams, and will miss a quality win chance at home.
4) In another blow to Cal/Stanford, they get Colorado only once as well.  However, these will be home games on the final weekend of the year for both.  So there will be a late quality win chance for both.

Here's a complete breakdown (made easier to list because of the neat scheduling format in the Pac 12):
Arizonas:  no Washington trip, no L.A. homestand
L.A.:  no Arizona trip, no Washington homestand
Washingtons:  no L.A. trip, no Arizona homestand
northern Cal:  no Utah/Colorado trip, no Oregon homestand
Oregons:  no northern Cal trip, no Utah/Colorado homestand
Utah/Colorado:  no Oregon trip, no northern Cal homestand

12 teams, 18 conference games
Each team plays 7 teams twice, 4 teams once

1) Wisconsin only gets Ohio St and Michigan St once.  That's actually a problem if you want to compete for a 1 seed.  However, it's a positive if you just care about getting a top 4 seed.  Make sense?  Anyways, they're both home games for Wisky too.  Better win at least one if you want a top 1 seed.  Also hilariously, the two home games Wisky misses this year?  Penn St and Nebraska.  Well played.
2) Ohio St/Michigan only happens once this season?  Ohio St gets to host the single matchup.  This might actually help Michigan as there's no risk of absorbing a marginal home loss to OSU, since Michigan already has enough losses.
3) Indiana is another team that doesn't get to host Ohio St this year.  More critical for Indiana as they need quality win chances.
4) As for another bubble team, Minnesota, they don't get to host Michigan St this year.
5) Iowa's schedule is a bit loaded.  They get each of the Big 3 (MSU, OSU, Wisky) twice.  They get the 3 bubble teams 5 times (missing a home game against Indiana, playing Minny and Illinois 2x).  Their other 1x's are Penn St, Purdue, and Nebraska.  This means Iowa can absorb a lot of losses and be fine.  Don't panic if they lose 8 times in the B1G and end up with a 4 or 5 need.  It's natural.  Don't punish them too much.

15 teams, 18 conference games
Each team plays 4 teams twice, 10 teams once

1) Obviously, in this conference, the bigger news is whether you get the road or home version for each team, and who you get to play twice.  Among the top 3 (Duke, UNC, Syracuse), the skipped game will be UNC at Syracuse.  Yes, this means Duke gets both Syracuse and UNC twice.  The spoiled get spoiled more.
2) Let's look at bubble teams, one by one then.  Pitt gets Syracuse twice, Duke at home, UNC on the road.  Florida St and Virginia at home only.  They will need to make hay against this schedule.
3) Virginia has a marginal schedule.  Each of the big 3 only once.  They do get Florida St twice, which will go a long way towards sorting the bubble.
4) Florida St is another team that only gets the big 3 a total of three times.
5) Notre Dame needs help, and they get it.  UNC twice.  Duke only at home.  Virginia twice.  They're the bubble team with the most help available.
6) I'll stop the analysis here, because the bubble is pretty big in the ACC.  Tough to know who exactly got the breaks until we see.

14 teams, 18 conference games
Each team plays 5 teams twice, 8 teams once

1) With a plurality of bubble teams, the key is who gets Kentucky and Florida in favorable situations.  (UK and UF play twice, by the way)  LSU is a team that gets a home-and-home with Kentucky.  Ole Miss and Arkansas are others.
2) As for Florida's distribution, they don't spread around nearly as much.  Tennessee gets them twice, but the others that do aren't probably going to be relevant in February and March.  Florida has an easier schedule than Kentucky, so file that away in your brain in case Florida wins the SEC.  LSU doesn't get Florida at home.  Missouri doesn't get Florida at home either.  Two of the 3 toughest road trips are missed.
3) Missouri only gets UK and UF once apiece, but at least the Kentucky chance is at home.  Arkansas/Missouri could be a very relevant home-and-home.  Tennessee also gets Mizzou twice.

Big 12, American, Big East

Home-and-homes for everyone!  Yay!

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