December 17, 2013

Not Sweating the Non-Con

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 7:21 am

I’ll understand if you were wringing your hands over Pitt’s non-con schedule again after this past weekend. The non-con has not gotten better looking. Not after Cinci went down big to Xavier. Penn State showed why it doesn’t get basketball respect after losing to Princeton at home — by blowing an 18 point lead with 6:34 left. Duquesne lost to Robert Morris. Heck, Fresno State and Albany lost over the weekend.

So no matter what computer metric you use (KenPom, RPI, Sagarin…), Pitt’s non-con strength of schedule is down near the bottom.

It’s the reason why Pitt is still unranked despite piling up a 10-0 record. Stanford is presently the best win, and while nice, provides no boost. And thanks to getting blown out by Xavier, the same can be said for today’s game with Cinci as far as potential impact — assuming a win.


November 6, 2013

So this is a nice addition to the future football schedule.

Pitt and Oklahoma State will play a home-and-home football series during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the schools announced today.

On Sept. 17, 2016, the Panthers will play at Oklahoma State in Boone Pickens Stadium.

The Cowboys will visit Heinz Field in Pittsburgh the following season on Sept. 16, 2017.

I do like that the dates of the games are 9/17/16 and 9/16/17. But then I’m a little tired and at this point easily bemused.



September 13, 2013

Some accumulated links to make it worth doing a post, before sundown and fasting begins.

On the recruiting front, Pitt is yet to officially have any commits for the 2014 class. So they make the list of teams “in trouble” with their recruiting class.

The Panthers have yet to land a commitment in the Class of 2014, and the roster next season is hardly imposing. Dixon will lose wing Lamar Patterson and big man Talib Zanna. It looks as though Pittsburgh is the favorite to land former Vanderbilt forward Sheldon Jeter, who transferred to Polk Community College. However, Dixon could also use another wing (i.e. Isaiah Whitehead) and a big man such as Josh Martin or Gary Clark.

Also on the list of “in trouble,” Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Gonzaga and UConn. So it isn’t really about “in trouble” so much as trying to land some very good players who aren’t deciding right away.


August 2, 2013

[Ed. Note: Hosting company had network problems today. I tried to publish this just as it went down.]

As we all know, one of the way Penn State did their best not to play Pitt was to claim they simply could not “afford” to lock into a home-and-home series. They needed at least a 3-for-2 deal or some other arrangement to make it clear that they were the alpha dog get enough home games. Pitt never flinched in holding firm against that. Not Pederson. Not Long. Wasn’t going to happen.

Now WVU works to find non-con games. They are looking to set up regional games (cheaper travel and games their fans might actually care to see) and neutral site games.

Holgorsen speaks excitedly and openly about other possibilities he’d like to make realities to fit his vision and to position his team for a spot in the playoff.

I’d be in favor of us and Pitt playing once in Pittsburgh (at Heinz Field) because it’s a big venue and because we’d have more people than they would,” Holgorsen said. “Us and Penn State in Philadelphia. If you can do a home-and-home, great. If you can’t, then do one game in a bigger venue. The home-and-home with (Virginia) Tech was already announced. A home-and-home with Virginia, or a neutral-site game with Virginia in (Washington, D.C.)?”

[Emphasis added.]


July 25, 2013

Lehigh Returns

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 6:53 am

The trickle of non-con scheduling continues. As part of the Legends Classic that Pitt will play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they will also get a couple home games that are ostensibly part of the tournament. One of those teams will be Lehigh.

Lehigh University’s men’s basketball team was chosen to be a part of the 2013 Legends Classic and will play road games against the University of Houston on Nov. 17 and University of Pittsburgh on Nov. 20.

Last year Pitt played Lehigh at the Pete as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off, and it went so well they decided to do it again. The game actually gets some national run as it will be aired on ESPNU that Wednesday. Giving Pitt a chance to get to .500 against the Mountain Hawks.

July 17, 2013

Just some of the topics in the basketball notes.

Still no official word on the full men’s basketball schedule. Typical I know, none of the major men’s basketball programs have announced a full schedule yet. And for most, not even the non-con. Instead there are the trickles. Like ESPN announcing some of their non-con tournaments. Including the Legends Classic that features Pitt at the Barclays Center:

Nov. 25: Pittsburgh vs. Texas Tech (7:30 p.m., ESPN2); Stanford vs. Houston (9:30, ESPN2)

Nov. 26: Consolation game (7 p.m., ESPN3); Championship game (9:30, ESPNU)

If this goes as hoped — and 5 of the 6 pundits ESPN listed for this think so — Pitt will play Stanford on Tuesday night for the Championship. Important because Stanford is the only other program (aside from Pitt) that will have any expectation of being an NCAA Tournament team. Not to mention being on ESPNU beats being an internet broadcast every time.


June 6, 2013

Pitt was already scheduled to play in Brooklyn on November 25 and 26 as part of the Legends Classic. Now Pitt will add a trip to Madison Square Garden.

The University of Pittsburgh basketball team will play Cincinnati as part of the 2013 Jimmy V Classic doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday, December 17 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, ESPN announced on Wednesday. The Pitt-Cincinnati contest will be played at 7 p.m. ET as part of a doubleheader that will be followed by a Florida-Memphis matchup at 9 p.m. ET. Both contests will be televised on ESPN.

In a way it is something of a coup for the newly named American to stick two teams in this situation. Especially in Madison Square Garden where the basketball-centric Big East still considers it their Tournament home.


May 24, 2013

Enjoy the Weekend

Filed under: Football,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 4:22 pm

I’ll try to post over the weekend — here’s hoping that there won’t be any bad news necessitating it.

But heading into the weekend, let’s check in with West Virginia football scheduling plans.

The move to the Big 12 costs West Virginia its rivalry game with Pittsburgh, and the Mountaineers only have Maryland remaining as a natural non-league rival, and that could end when the Terrapins may the questionable move to the Big 10.

“I would love to get Pitt back on the schedule, I would love to get (Virginia) Tech back on the schedule, I would to get UVa back on the schedule, another school that we used to play a lot, and even Penn State,” [WVU AD Oliver] Luck said. “Is that possible? Well, it takes two to tango, but I think the good news is we will see some stronger non-conference schedules as we go forward.”

The wonderful thing about the article is how it is completely couched in trying to build a schedule for the future college football playoff. Getting the right strength of schedule and all that. Oliver Luck — and of course the writer of the piece — doesn’t even mention the travel costs for WVU as an issue. No not that. That isn’t at all the point.


May 8, 2013

Okay, so as the match-ups for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge were being leaked this morning, it became clear that Pitt wasn’t going to land one of the heavyweights from the B1G. That’s not surprising. Pitt will not be considered in the preseason as one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the ACC. So, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St., Ohio St. and Indiana weren’t going to be likely opponents. Among the best of the rest there would have been Iowa, Illinois and Purdue. But Iowa and Purdue got leaked and their opponents were not Pitt.

So, more and more likely it was going to be a Pennsylvania battle.

And indeed it will be. Penn State comes to the Pete on Tuesday, December 3.

Now the Nits will be better than they were this past year. They have a bunch of decent players coming back from injury, including Tim Frazier.

But, from helping the overall strength of Pitt’s non-con schedule it won’t do much.  So that’s the bad news. Also John Johnson won’t be eligible to play for Penn State for that game.

I’m still relatively happy with the game. There really was no reason for Pitt and Penn State to stop playing basketball. Other than the fact that Penn State was really tired of being embarrassed. Hopefully this will be the spark to renew this as an annual game.

December 24, 2012

Go figure, Pitt puts forth one of its more lackluster efforts and a day later Pitt is ranked. How lackluster? It was the first game this season where Pitt failed to score more than 60 points. Yet, they still beat Kennesaw State by 16.

While the Owls hit a bunch of 3s to keep it tight early, Pitt put the game out of reach before the first half was complete. The constantly hitting 3s does give the guards something to improve.

“They played hard the whole game and hit open jump shots,” Pitt guard James Robinson said. “They were on. We didn‘t have one of our best defensive performances, and that‘s something we‘re going to have to work on heading into Big East play.”

Pitt held Kennesaw St. to sub-40% shooting overall. The problem was they let KSU go 9-15 on 3s (7-27 on 2FGs). So, yeah, that’s something to improve.


December 20, 2012

No MAC In 2013

Filed under: Football,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 1:03 pm

The non-con football schedule is complete. Pitt was already scheduled to play Villanova, ND and at Navy. A MAC or some other 1-A from the lower tier was expected. Turns out it isn’t a totally horrible opponent.  The fourth non-con is another home game against the Lobos of New Mexico.

That means a seven-game home schedule in the first year of ACC play. There was already going to be excitement about that first year. With only one 1-AA team. No MAC (or Sun Belt) opponents. Notre Dame at home. Ticket sales for the 2013 season should be strong.

December 7, 2012

It’s still more than three years away until Pitt and Penn State play for the first time since Pitt shut out Penn State 12-0 in 2000 — wow. It will be a 16-year gap. Amazing. Hard to believe it will be that long. But I digress.

The renewal was only to be a single home-and-home. But that was before all the, um, changes that have taken place in Happy Valley over the last year or so. A new coach. An interim AD. The passing of a certain obstinate figure. And the continual badgering by Pitt’s AD have led to an extension of the series to four years rather than two.

Last year, the two universities signed a home-and-home agreement for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Today, Pitt and Penn State announced a two-year extension of the original pact for 2018 and 2019.

Pitt will host the initial game at Heinz Field on September 10, 2016. The Panthers will play at Penn State on September 16, 2017. The new agreement will have the series returning to Pittsburgh on September 8, 2018, with a return trip to State College on September 14, 2019.

It’s welcome news for a rivalry game that should have never ended.


October 4, 2012

Scrambling for 2013

Filed under: Football,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 11:07 am

A follow-up on the new/old ACC scheduling plan for football. Pitt now finds itself a game short for 2013. And having, once more, to start scrambling to find another game for next year.

When Pitt first put its 2013 schedule together, it was with the expectation of being in the Big East with 8 teams. It featured Villanova, ND, at Navy, at VT and NC State. Obviously, once Pitt got its invite to the ACC last year things changed. The NC St. was tossed and VT became a conference game. Not to worry. The ACC was going to a 9-game schedule so Pitt was set. Three non-cons, two at home. That’s a 6-game slate — perhaps 7 if Pitt got 5 home conference games — and all was well.

Now it’s trickier.


October 3, 2012

ACC Schedule Notes

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Conference,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 1:03 pm

The ACC is having some meetings up in Boston. Interesting tidbits:

Cue outrage from Clemson and FSU fans over this decision, because, well at this point it seems that whatever the ACC does they feel they are being screwed by it. They complained about the ACC schedule and the non-con scheduling headaches. Then when they went to 9, it was about how they were losing money from not having the extra home game. So, I’m sure they will still find reason to complain.


September 29, 2012

A fantastic piece by Luke Winn at that talks about the exploitable flaw in the RPI system. How it can be gamed, by numbers savvy coaches with their non-con to create a high RPI ranking without actually taking huge risks.

The NCAA tournament selection committee uses the RPI formula to assess teams’ non-conference strength of schedule (NCSOS). Two-thirds of RPI’s NCSOS is based on the raw winning percentages of a team’s opponents, and the other third is based on the raw winning percentages of opponents’ opponents. A team vying for an at-large NCAA tournament bid is best off having a respectable NCSOS rank and a number of wins over RPI top-25, top-50 or top-100 teams. While the selection committee has stated that RPI is just one of many tools it uses, the fact remains that schedule strength is viewed predominantly through the RPI’s lens.

The problem is that it’s a warped lens. Seventy-five percent of the RPI formula is about strength of schedule (SOS), and because the RPI uses the flawed metric of raw winning percentage to assess SOS, it fails to provide a true measure of the quality of opponents.

Here’s how that works. If you schedule decent to good mid- and low mid-majors. That is teams that can be expected to do well in their own conference, you puff up your own RPI because they end the year with 18 to 20+ wins. Even if most of those wins came in the MEAC or such.


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