Pitino Blog: Scheduling Thoughts
March 12, 2018

Good afternoon Gopher fans,
Let’s be very clear. I am fully aware we didn’t deserve to be in the field. Also, this blog isn’t meant to criticize the committee or any team that did or didn’t get in. It’s an attempt to figure out what the committee looked for and proceed accordingly. I think it’s a good time to evaluate the way we scheduled this season as well as how I feel we need to, moving forward, to get back in the Big Dance.

The committee, this year, introduced a new “Quad system” into evaluating a team’s record. Quad 1, for instance, was a home win vs. a top 30 RPI team, a neutral site win vs. a top 50 RPI team, and a road win vs. a top 75 RPI team. Did we have enough opportunities on our schedule?

Factors that go into scheduling:

  • Your Team - If you have a young team you have to be careful. Nothing can kill a team’s confidence like losing early in the season. The pile-on effect can be a lot to overcome. If you have a team like we had this year and last year it’s extremely beneficial to beef up the non-conference schedule. 
  • Fans and exposure - Let’s face it, there is nothing better than a quality opponent in your building on national TV. The Miami environment was one of the best crowds since I have been here. We have to be able to reward our season ticket holders. 
  • NCAA tournament aspirations - Only 19 percent make the NCAA tournament so if you are able to get in, a lot of things have to go your way. The bottom line is you don’t just have to win but you have to beat good teams. In the past there was always talk of peaking at the right time, making a conference tournament run, finishing hot, etc. None of that allegedly matters anymore. A win in November means just as much as a win in February. Conference standings and records don’t matter either. Five at-large teams made the tournament with sub-.500 conference records. What’s interesting is that neutral site games are worth a lot. I would have figured the NCAA and the committee would want teams to move away from playing games in empty buildings, with no environment, in November but that isn’t the case. Look for more teams to try to play top-50 neutral site games instead of home-and-homes moving forward.
Below is a breakdown of our schedule this year. I think it’s accurate! It’s entirely possible that it isn’t but unfortunately I have some time on my hands these days so bear with me. For the sake of time, I broke down our games only vs. the teams that made it to the postseason. Gone are the days of rooting against teams in your conference. The stronger your league is, the more opportunities you have for good wins. Remember, the committee showed it doesn’t really matter who you lose to. It also doesn’t matter if you almost won, bad call from an official, foul trouble, etc. At the end of the day, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of your wins!

@ Providence College - Win
RPI- 32, Quad 1
NCAA tournament - 10 Seed

Alabama (Neutral) - Win (I think we won. Depends on who you ask or what you read!)
RPI- 41, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 9 Seed

Miami (Home) - Loss
RPI- 20, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 6 Seed

@ Arkansas - Loss
RPI- 29, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 7 seed

Harvard (Home) - Win
RPI- 113, Quad 3

Purdue (Home/Away) - Loss/ Loss
RPI- 2, Quad 1
NCAA Tournament- 2 Seed

Nebraska (Home/Away) - Loss/ Loss
RPI- 48, Quad 2 at Home, Quad 1 on the road

@ Michigan - Loss
RPI- 11, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 3 seed

Michigan State (Home) - Loss
RPI- 12, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 3 seed

Ohio State (Neutral, don’t get me started!) - Loss
RPI-18, Quad 1
NCAA tournament- 5 seed

@ Penn State - Win
RPI- 69, Quad 1

So looking back our schedule seemed to provide plenty of opportunities to get Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins. We were 2-9 vs. Quad 1, 1-3 vs. Quad 2, 2-3 vs. Quad 3, and 10-2 vs. Quad 4. The biggest issue, besides obviously the losses, was having four conference games count as Quad 4 games. For other teams we would have counted as a Quad 4 as well. Having that many in our league is unheard of. Playing 20 league games in the future should help that.

Moving forward, my immediate thoughts are to get as many Quad 1 and Quad 2 opportunities on your non-conference schedule and hope your league provides the rest. The Big Ten’s unbalanced schedule also makes it tricky. A few years ago, the benchmark for making the NCAA tournament from a Power 5 conference was always 20 wins. Clearly that isn’t the case. Over the next few months we will do our very best to put together an exciting, challenging, and rewarding schedule.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear how everyone is doing in their brackets! Yes, that’s me being sarcastic.

Go Gophers!
Richard Pitino



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