Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quick Post: A Scheduling Letdown

A few of the holes left in the 2013-14 CU men's basketball schedule were filled today when it was leaked that the Buffs had joined forces with Wyoming to create a 5-team round-robin mini-tournament.  In addition to Wyo making the drive south, the Buffs will be welcoming Arkansas St, Tennessee-Martin, and Jackson St to the CEC.

If you're saying to yourself "I don't think those are very good basketball programs," your instincts have served you well.  As pointed out by @TZiskBuff, those teams had RPI rankings of 163, 312, and 309 last year, respectively, are are not expected to be much better this season.  Essentially, the Buffs have signed on three RPI boat anchors, a fact Coach Boyle admits.

Why does this matter?  Due to some savvy scheduling this past season, Colorado finished with a top-25 non-conference RPI, and a top-20 non-con strength-of-schedule (according to ESPN).  Both rankings served the Buffs well on Selection Sunday, as CU relied on it's rosy overall RPI ranking to secure it's first at-large Tournament selection in a decade.  Without that scheduling bulwark, the Buffs would have had to do far better than 10-8 in conference to make the Dance.  Had the Buffs played teams like UT-M and JSU, instead of Baylor and Murray St, they could've been NIT bound.

This is all probably an unfortunate by-product of the program's recent success, and rumors have been popping up related to the difficulty Coach Boyle has been having enticing strong teams up to the Foot of the Flatirons.  In that light, he's had to get creative, reaching out to Wyo coach Larry Shyatt to collaborate on this underwhelming November series.  At the very least, it adds a few home dates to the schedule, I just hope the RPI hit doesn't come back to bite the team in the ass.

Of course, the rest of the presumed schedule - including trips to Ft Collins and Colorado Springs, and visits from Kansas and Fresno St (?) - features far better RPI fodder.  You take the good with the bad, I guess.

There's still a few more open dates to fill in November and December (8 games assumed to be scheduled, there were 12 non-con games last year).  Hopefully, Coach Boyle can trick some of his over-cautious colleagues into making the trip to Boulder.

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