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2004 Schedule Stuff

Publication Date: February 3, 2004

Those Were the Days

You know, in a lot of ways there's never been a better athletic schedule than the one for Major League Baseball from 1901 to 1960. Two leagues of eight teams each, everybody played everyone else in their league twenty-two times, no playoffs except the World Series (and if you read press coverage up through the 1930's, at least, you'll see that the Series was widely regarded as a fun exhibition with no real hope of determining who the better team was) -- when the season was over, you knew who had been the best team in each league over the last six months, by golly, and it wasn't hard to tell.

We don't have that any more, of course -- the current Major League schedule with unbalanced schedules and wild cards make it almost impossible to tell who the best team is, other than that it's a fairly safe bet to not be the team that wins the World Series -- and we've never had it at the college level, so let's stop mooning over days that passed before I was born and take a look at who's playing who this year and what it's likely to mean.

Schedule Strength

The whole intended strength of schedule report is up over in its usual place. This is, for those of you who are fairly new here, a measure of how tough a schedule each team intended to play this year based on this year's schedule and last year's ISR ratings. Reality will play out a bit differently, of course, but it's a fairly useful measure this time of year. Here are the twenty toughest:

      All            Non-conf
Rank SoS   SD    Rank SoS   SD   Team

  1 115.2  6.7     4 114.4  6.1  Southern California
  2 114.5  8.3     7 113.5  9.7  Arizona
  3 113.7  7.0     2 115.3  5.4  Cal State Fullerton
  4 113.4  6.9     9 113.4  4.7  UC Irvine
  5 113.2  8.3     5 113.7  9.4  Texas
  6 113.2  8.9    18 110.8 10.5  UCLA
  7 113.0  7.1     3 114.5  3.4  Long Beach State
  8 112.8  6.7    15 111.4  8.1  Stanford
  9 112.5  7.8    31 108.7  6.1  California
 10 112.4  6.7    14 111.9  6.4  Baylor
 11 112.0  6.7    19 110.5  4.9  Cal State Northridge
 12 111.9  6.9    24 109.8  6.9  Arizona State
 13 111.6  6.6    21 110.2  5.6  Texas A&M
 14 111.3 10.3     1 118.4  8.5  Houston
 15 111.3 10.6    20 110.5 13.0  Fresno State
 16 111.2  7.8    30 108.7  7.6  Louisiana Tech
 17 110.9  8.2    68 104.0  4.9  Washington State
 18 110.8  7.6    32 108.3  6.2  San Jose State
 19 110.7  9.4    38 107.3  9.9  Oklahoma
 20 110.4  6.4    11 112.2  8.0  Rice

You remember last year, when the team with the toughest schedule in the nation finished at .500 and was excluded from the tournament, despite being one of the twenty-five best teams in the country? You'd think they'd make some adjustments after that, but USC West is lined up again to make that charge into the Valley of Death. I suspect this year's team will manage a slightly better record, but it won't be fun.

The ten toughest non-conference schedules, in case you don't feel like wading through it:

 1.  Houston
 2.  Cal State Fullerton
 3.  Long Beach State
 4.  Southern California (*)
 5.  Texas
 6.  Loyola Marymount
 7.  Arizona
 8.  Santa Clara
 9.  UC Irvine
10.  New Mexico

Southern California's non-conference schedule is actually slightly tougher than this, because this doesn't include the non-conference series against Stanford and UCLA; life's too short to make special arrangements in the software for things like that.

In the Miami/Florida State Cup standings for the teams with the greatest variation in their schedule, here are the teams with the highest standard deviations in their opponents' ratings, which means they'll be hard to measure accurately:

 1.  Mississippi Valley State
 2.  Oral Roberts
 3.  Bethune-Cookman
 4.  Maryland
 5.  Grambling State
 6.  Florida A&M
 7.  St. John's
 8.  Missouri
 9.  Iona
10.  Kansas

It's worth noting that for the ISR's to have trouble with you, the way they did with Florida State last year, you have to be both good and better than most of your schedule, so the two Big Twelve teams and Oral Roberts are the only ones that may fit into that category in the list above. Further down the list, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina could be trouble as well.

Over-Rated! Over-Rated!

Finally, a couple of lists I started running last year -- the teams most likely to be overrated and underrated by the RPI's. There's a lot of explanatory material I won't rehash that you can find starting with last year's link there. The most likely to overrated:

 1. Pennsylvania
 2. St. Peter's
 3. Fairfield
 4. Yale
 5. Holy Cross
 6. St. Bonaventure
 7. Dartmouth
 8. Lehigh
 9. Pace
10. Manhattan
11. New York Tech
12. Mount St. Mary's
13. Bowling Green State
14. Fairleigh Dickinson
15. Army
16. Columbia
17. Vermont
18. Albany
19. Long Island
20. Sacred Heart
21. Maine
22. Cornell
23. Central Connecticut State
24. Canisius
25. Buffalo

And the more interesting list, those likely to be underrated, usually tragically:

 1. Louisiana Tech
 2. Southern California
 3. UCLA
 4. Baylor
 5. Texas
 6. Clemson
 7. Georgia
 8. Florida State
 9. Arizona
10. Louisiana State
11. Houston
12. Auburn
13. Rice
14. Texas A&M
15. Arizona State
16. Arkansas
17. Fresno State
18. Georgia Tech
19. Hawaii
20. Mississippi
21. Vanderbilt
22. Mississippi State
23. Cal State Fullerton
24. Stanford
25. Long Beach State

This list is extra interesting this year, because it actually contains a number of SEC and ACC teams. I can't quite put my finger on why just yet, but it could have some definite effects if those teams start being rated badly as well. None of the RPI changes for this year affect this measure (and therefore don't really fix any of the problems), so that's not it. It'll bear watching.

By the way, the ten most schedulable teams in the country this year are Binghamton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Iona, Buffalo, Toledo, Central Michigan, Bowling Green State, and Brown.

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Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> 2004 Schedule Stuff About the author, Boyd Nation