Strategic scheduling paying off in the form of A-10 NCAA tourney bids
Cox Hub’s Chris DiSano has been pumping out articles faster than I can read them this offseason, one of which was a recent interview he did with Dayton’s Archie Miller. In that article (which you can read here: Summer Session Sitdown – Dayton’s Archie Miller) Miller briefly commented on an A-10 scheduling strategy that I happen to love. He commented:
“We’re in a league that is getting multiple bids because the coaches in our league are smart enough to realize that there are different ways to do it. You don’t need to always play Duke and Carolina, there’s a reason to play Iona at home or go on the road and play Middle Tennessee State. The numbers are the numbers and, while sometimes not as sexy for your fans, at the end of the day the resume is going to be there. That’s the one thing the programs in our league have a great understanding about.”
BCS programs have certainly done their share of avoiding the A-10 in years past. While some of that has certainly changed due to the TV-friendly matchup they can now get with a VCU, Dayton, Saint Louis, etc, more often than not it’s a rarity to see one of those programs agree to a home-and-home series with an A-10 team. So A-10 schools have had to work with what they have, and that has included a strategic scheduling philosophy that inserts computer friendly matchups wherever there is a sexy “big name” void, a huge part how how the Atlantic 10 has been able to get five and six teams dancing the last couple of years.
A quick look at how the A-10’s six NCAA tournament teams helped their postseason numbers in the non-conference this past season:
Dayton – The Flyers picked up neutral court wins against Gonzaga (Kenpom No.22) and California (No.64) as well as a nice road victory over Ol Miss (No.84) but added some smart home Ws over Iona (No.66) and Murray State (No.115).
GW – The Colonials had neutral court Ws over Miami (No.69), Creighton (No.24) and Maryland (No.40) but added home wins against Georgia (No.72) and an underrated Manhattan (no.60).
UMass – The Minutemen actually were able to build their resume on the backs on a number of BCS/BCS-level teams, defeating LSU (No.58) and Providence (No.51) at home, took out Nebraska (No.44), New Mexico (No.31) and Clemson (No.50) on neutral courts and picked up a victory in Springfield against BYU (No.53).
Saint Joseph’s – The Hawks played their way off the bubble by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament and securing the auto bid. Prior to that they had dropped opportunities against Creighton, LSU and Villanova but also picked up a solid road win at Vermont (No.70).
Saint Louis – SLU actually dropped their only two kenpom top-100 matchups they played in the non-conference last season, a neutral court L to Wisconsin (No.6) and a home loss to Wichita State (No.5). They picked up a decent road win at Vanderbilt (No.112) and an ok W at home against Indiana State (No.108). Regardless, they were 25-2 through Feb 26th.
VCU – VCU dropped some neutral court opportunities against Georgetown (No.65) and FSU (No.41) but made up for it with a huge road win at Virginia (No.4) and a sneaky good victory at Belmont (No.87). They also added a home victory over Ohio Valley champ, Eastern Kentucky (No.119) but dropped a road game at Northern Iowa (No.94).