To read Part 1 of this study, click here.
Welcome to the second part of this nonconference scheduling study conducted by yours truly of Big East Coast Bias. Two weeks ago, the first portion of this analysis was conducted and the results showed that the West Virginia Mountaineers had the toughest nonconference schedule of any Big East team from the 2004-05 season to the 2012-13 campaign. They were followed by Georgetown, Villanova, Connecticut and Louisville, while Notre Dame was in the cellar.
For the second part of this study, we're going to examine the 'Catholic Seven': the group of Big East schools that were remaining after the mass exodus to the ACC and AAC after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. There's no denying that the move cut the Big East Conference pretty deeply, but did the departures of the big names allow for the smaller schools to rise up in the rankings?
Let's find out.
Part 2: The Big East from 2005-2015
Well... as you might expect with the elimination of West Virginia from the field, Georgetown maintained its top spot. Their average pyth crept up to 0.6570 giving them stout competition to say the least within the time frame used. They rebounded off of a weak nonconference slate in the 2012-13 season with marks of 0.5764 and 0.5902 in year one and two of the 'New Big East.'
Villanova and DePaul held steady to their marks after two seasons from 'Nova of very tough scheduling and a bounceback from the Blue Demons. The biggest mover in this category was undoubtedly Providence. After scheduling meekly from 2005-2013, Ed Cooley's Friars decided that enough was enough. In 2014, their nonconference schedule featured matchups with Vermont, Maryland and National Runner Up Kentucky with the latter coming on neutral courts. This run also included an overtime loss to Massachusetts and to their credit, thanks in part to a magical run to the Big East Tournament title, PC made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
And last season, the Friars stacked the deck again. They had a return matchup with the juggernaut Wildcats at the hostile environment known as Rupp Arena. They edged out a Notre Dame team on a neutral court that, later, would make the Elite Eight thanks to the play of Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton and others. And, additionally, the Friars tested themselves against Top 100 teams Florida State, Yale, Rhode Island and Miami. This coming year, Providence has matchups confirmed with Harvard, Illinois, Rhode Island, and UMass, and as part of the Wooden Legacy event, they could face the highly touted Arizona Wildcatsas well as the Michigan State Spartans or Boise State Broncos.
Suffice it to say, one team has certainly emerged from the pack as far as team performance and nonconference scheduling goes*.
St. John's and Seton Hall are at the bottom again but both did trend upwards in 2014 and 2015. Although Seton Hall had an abysmal 0.2938 pyth for their noncon schedule in 2014, they rebounded with a 0.4470 in 2015 and look likely to have a tough slate ahead of them this coming season. The Johnnies meanwhile leveled up from 0.4220 in 2014 to 0.4582 this past season.
Only Seton Hall had an average of under .500 but it was merely by 0.0027 points.
* = Correlation, of course, does not necessarily equal causation but it's certainly tough to argue that Providence has benefited from an abundance of talent, more attention drawn to them and the tenacity to schedule tougher opponents with the big boys gone from the conference.
Thus, the answers appear to remain the same from Part One and that isn't all too surprising. It was, in actuality, just a two-part sample but given the fact that, of the 14 nonconference schedules in play, only one had a pyth of under .400 (Seton Hall, 2014) the Big East appears to be scheduling tougher in their nonconference slate even in their 'new era.' This still remains a conference to reckoned with and, for the moment, a conference many are still paying attention to.