Digging Into Next Year’s ACC Match-ups

Posted by Brad Jenkins on April 28th, 2014

Late last week the ACC released its 18-game conference match-ups for each of the 15 men’s basketball teams in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Here’s a link to the announcement, which includes ACC commissioner John Swofford’s comments on the changes. With Louisville replacing Maryland as a member next season, ACC leadership wisely chose to move away from a scheduling model that set games years in advance with little to no regard for attractive television match-ups. As the clearest example, the ratings success of both Duke-Syracuse games last season ensured that those programs will play twice again in 2014-15. Good move! The league will also reward a newcomer (Louisville) with a first year bonus of home games against all three tradition-rich Triangle programs. Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State each visited Syracuse and Notre Dame in their first seasons as new members, while Pittsburgh hosted Duke and N.C. State. In another smart move, the league will match Louisville and North Carolina twice in 2014-15. In 2015-16, the four highest profile programs will swap doubles partners, as Duke will face Louisville twice and North Carolina will meet Syracuse two times. For a league vying to become a dominant basketball force in coming seasons, these are all smart long-term moves.

Pitino Has Louisville Easily on Top of This Group (Getty Images).

Rick Pitino and Louisville Will Have a Tough First Year ACC Schedule (Getty Images).

Let’s now take a look at which schools may have the easiest or toughest conference schedules next season. Before we can compare them in any meaningful way, we must first rank the teams in groups based on how good we think they will be next year. Of course it’s all guesswork at this point, but without doing too much detailed analysis, here are the four different groupings of teams (“A” being the best) as we see them right now.


To compare schedules we will just look at the teams each school plays twice, as that really represents the main difference in these schedules. For each team in Group A, we will assign four toughness-points, Group B teams are worth three, and so on. We’ll do our comparisons by group to see which teams have it better or worse compared to teams of the same relative strength. Each group table lists the teams in order of easiest schedule, showing the teams they play twice and the toughness-points that total in the far right column.

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Breaking Down The Unbalanced Pac-12 Conference Schedules

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 2nd, 2014

Back in the old days of the Pac-10, comparing the different conference schedules of league teams was largely an academic affair; with an 18-game balanced schedule, each team played every other team in the league both home and away. But with Utah and Colorado now on board, we’re in the era of the unbalanced schedule. Each team in the league still has a travel partner (UCLA and USC, Cal and Stanford, Colorado and Utah, the Arizona schools, the Oregon schools, and the Washington schools), so, for instance, when Arizona goes on the road to play California and Stanford, Arizona State does the same in reverse order. The only difference is that, now in unbalanced schedule land, each set of traveling partners skips a trip to one other set of travel partners and loses a visit from another pair as well. Below we’ll take a look at who skips whom, who gets the benefit of the unbalanced schedule this year, and whatever other little nuggets we can find in the conference slate as we get started tonight.

The Arizona schools

  • Road trip skipped: The Washington schools
  • Homestand skipped: The Los Angeles schools
Arizona Shouldn't Be All That Pumped About Skipping The Washington Road Trip (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

Arizona Shouldn’t Be All That Pumped About Skipping The Washington Road Trip. (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

In one form or another, Washington and Washington State are consistently regarded as two of the three worst teams in the conference this season (and, honestly, usually the worst two). In other words, missing out on a couple of dates with the Huskies and the Cougars is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to conference standings. Consider that a strike against Arizona, a team that figures to be very much in the hunt for the conference championship. On the other side of the coin, however, skipping those two will give Arizona State a couple more shots against higher RPI squads, and given that the Sun Devils figure to be bubblicious come March, trading out the two Pacific Northwest RPI killers may come in handy. One other note in favor of the Sun Devils is that they’re possibly in line to benefit from traveling with the Wildcats. Arizona is going to get everybody’s best shot this year, especially as long as they remain atop the national standings, meaning ASU could be a trap game on a regular basis. Imagine, for instance, Oregon hosting Arizona on February 6 — win or lose that night, the Ducks could be in for a serious letdown two days later when they host Jahii Carson and his Sun Devils.

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