"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Early Look at the 2012-13 Schedule

About 11 months ago, Marquette was finalizing their non-conference schedule, and I posited that the quality of opponents could result in the Warriors finishing in the top-20 in both RPI and SOS. According to RealTimeRPI.com, I was being a bit modest, as Marquette finished #9 in RPI and #13 in SOS. Over the next month, we'll get a much better idea of the 13 teams Marquette will face in the non-conference in 2012-13. Here's an early look at the teams we know we'll be playing, and ideas for what Marquette should do with their open dates.

Teams We Know

Wisconsin (Home) -- The Badgers come to the BC this year. They'll be a quality opponent, as they have finished as a RPI top-20 team 3 years in a row. Despite losing Jordan Taylor, they return almost everyone else and should be near the top of the B1G yet again.

LSU (Home) -- Head coach Trent Johnson left, but as of right now, the top five scorers are returning to a top-100 RPI team. Over the past 4 years, 89.6% of SEC teams have finished in the RPI top-150, so even if LSU has a down year, they should be a decent opponent.

UW-Green Bay (Away) -- The Phoenix return their top four scorers including star big man Alec Brown. While they may not compete with Butler and Valpo for the Horizon League crown, this should still be a solid RPI team and a good (and possibly dangerous) road game.

Maui Invitational (1 Home, 3 Neutral) -- We will get 4 games out of Maui, with one mainland home game. Last year's mainland teams included two top-100 RPI teams, Belmont and MTSU, and two sub-200 teams, UNC-Greensboro and Towson. We'll hope for one of the upper-level teams. When we get there, it looks like the four top teams will be UNC, Marquette, Texas, and Butler, all of whom boast some quality talent and could be tournament teams. Then there's Illinois, USC, Mississippi State, and Chaminade, all of whom most likely will not have very good seasons. Of those four, Illinois is probably the best bet at a decent opponent. The ideal path would be Illinois, Texas/Butler, North Carolina. Hopefully they don't pair Texas and Butler in the first round feeding to UNC, because a scenario of Chaminade, USC/MSU, UNC could hurt our RPI more than help it if we didn't win the tournament.

The Other Six Games

UW-Milwaukee (Home) -- I feel like this one is almost inevitable. If we continue this series, it should be on a buy basis only, or if we have to play there, no less than a 5-for-1. The game at the Cell was too close for comfort last year, and while Milwaukee is a solid bet to finish in the 100-150 RPI range, that's hardly worth risking local bragging rights on a road game. I think the fans expect the series to continue, but this (and honestly, Green Bay as well) should be done as buy games only. There's no need to go there.

High-Major One-And-One (Away) -- Over the past few years, we've had some nice series with teams like NC State, Vanderbilt, and LSU. Right now, we don't have a true high-major road game, which would be a good boost to the schedule. So who should we schedule? The ideal foe would be one that is a middle of the pack squad and potential tournament team from the B1G, SEC, ACC, or Big 12 that will be better in 2013-14 (when we get them at home). Here are some ideal foes, two teams from each league: Purdue, Minnesota, Georgia, Ole Miss, Maryland, Miami, Oklahoma State, or Kansas State.

Big East/SEC Challenge (Home or Away) -- After not being picked as one of the 12 Big East representatives last year, I have to imagine we'll get the call this year. I'm not picky in terms of who we get, though how cool would Marquette/Kentucky at the Bradley Center be?

Mid-Major Two-For-One (Home) -- This is a bit of a dream, but I think getting a solid mid-major program on a two-for-one would be better than the standard cupcake. I doubt this happens this year because at a glance, our non-conference looks stacked, but I think Murray State would be perfect for this. Let us get Isaiah Canaan at home in a game we should win, then after he graduates, we go play at their place. One more at home against a quality mid-major in 2014. Other good candidates for this would be Davidson, Xavier, Butler, and St. Louis.

The Cupcakes (2 Home) -- With the last two games, all I'd hope for would be teams that won't be sub-300 next year. What made our 2011 non-con schedule so great was that teams like Mount St. Mary's, Jacksonville, and Northern Colorado stayed in the top-300 RPI. Lesser teams are okay, just not god-awful teams. The best way to do that is to buy games by conference rather than team expectations. I would start by trying to get a game with a team from the Colonial Athletic Association. In the past four years, they have only had one sub-300 RPI team. Next I would look at the improving Summit League, which had zero sub-300 teams last year, and of the six in the past four years, two were Centenary, a team that is no longer in D1. Other leagues with teams worth a look include the MAC, Horizon, and Patriot Leagues, or if we want to spend a bit more, the Missouri Valley, West Coast, or WAC. If we end the Milwaukee deal, add one more of these cupcakes to round out the schedule.

After watching what Mike Broeker and Buzz Williams managed with the schedule last year, I have great faith in their scheduling. Despite losing Jae and DJO, this is a largely veteran team that can handle a heavy load, and I think 7 high-major opponents (if Maui's kind) would be not only realistic, it'd be manageable. I also still feel the best way to build a schedule is by limiting the truly top-level and bottom-level teams. With UW and possibly UNC, we don't need to go after any more big fish. Take what the Big East/SEC challenge gives us and aim for teams that we should beat from conferences that promise solid RPI numbers. Our 3-seed this past year wasn't by accident, and continued aggressive scheduling will allow us to continue earning top-5 seeds on Selection Sunday.

1 comment:

Al Kelly said...

How about Creighton from the Missouri Valley, another quality Jesuit school.