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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Memphis Schedule......What Went Wrong?

It is funny how everyone is jumping on the bandwagon..........Memphis hasn't played anyone and they lost to most of the good teams they faced. True? Well, yeah. It is hard to argue. But, let's analyze. What happened?

Yes, C-USA is poor, but believe it or not just not as poor as last year.

2007 C-USA is ranked #11 with a 81-64 non-conference record
Highest ranked team: Memphis (9)
Lowest ranked team: East Carolina (314)
Average: 150
Median: 152

2006 C-USA was ranked #13 with an 75-69 non-conference record
Highest ranked team: Memphis (4)
Lowest Ranked team: East Carolina (300)
Average: 169
Median: 210

So, where is the failure? The problem is pure perception, not necessarily reality.

In 2006, C-USA had four teams in the RPI Top 100
Memphis (4), UAB (32), Houston (53), UTEP (76)

In 2007..........only two, Memphis (9) and Houston (92)

But, C-USA has nine other teams in the 100's and only one lower than 199 - ECU @ 314

Last year, the disbursion was much greater. Beyond the four in the Top 100, only one was in the 100's - Central Florida @ 190. Six teams were in the 200's and lowly ECU bringing up the rear at #300.

Ok, so C-USA is actually better, but no one seems to realize it.

What about the non-conference schedule?

2007, Memphis' non-conference RPI is #19 with a SOS of #24
2006, Memphis' non-conference RPI was #2 with a SOS of #3

How did that happen?

In 2006, Memphis played and beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee (52), @Alabama (76), UCLA (9), @Cincinnati (40), @Providence (108), @Ole Miss (156), Louisiana Tech (68), Gonzaga (8), Purdue (174), Middle Tennessee (114), Winthrop (73) and Tennessee (6). They also played, but lost to Duke (1) and Texas (8).

In 2007, it all fell apart.

The Maui Classic was ok, beating Oklahoma (82) and Kentucky (8), but losing to Georgia Tech (47), but it went straight down hill from there.

Only two teams the Tigers beat are in the top 100 - Ole Miss (63) and Gonzaga (71). Losses came at Tennessee (15) and at Arizona (11).

Memphis tried to add a quality opponent in Manhattan, but the Jaspers suck this year with an RPI of 225, up from 87 in 2006.

The real problem is that C-USA went to a 16 game format in 2007 instead of playing 14 like they did in 2006. Memphis gave up two games against Top 100 type talent because they require seven "buy" games for economic reasons where they don't have to play a home and home series.

Memphis gave up Texas (2006-#8, 2007-#46), Purdue (2006-#174, 2007-#37) and Providence (2006-#108, 2007-#67) and only added Arizona (2006-#24, 2007-#11).

They also retained Tennessee (2006-#6, 2007-#15), Ole Miss (2006-#156, 2007-#63), Cincinnati (2006-#40, 2007-#163) and Gonzaga (2006-#8, 2007-#71).

While Tennessee and Arizona were strong RPI games and Ole Miss was vastly improved, Cincinnati and Gonzaga were much weaker.

In 2008, Memphis reportedly will play USC (60), Arizona (11), Tennessee (15), Ole Miss (63) and Gonzaga (71); but Memphis will require much help from C-USA to avoid this year's problem again.


g said...

There's Nothing Wrong.

Coach Cal is pretty smart. He knows how to recruit. How to schedule. How to pump up his own conference. How to choose friends within the basketball community. How to establish roots in his own local community. He is the total package.

So I'm not worried that the CUSA was depleted. I'm not concerned that the league is better or worse this year than last.

Coach knows that there are several important points to the season. To fill seats. To win a post season bid, and preferably to gain a high seed in the tournament. And his team is poised to do just that.

Realistically, the team's record does not justify its high ranking, or a projected high seed.

We beat Cincinnati, but sixteen teams have done that this year. The game against Gonzaga might have been a test, but Heltvelt didn't play, so the game doesn't count in a meaningful way.

Interestingly, being a member of a less than stellar CUSA may have helped the Tigers immensely this year.

Look at Georgia Tech in the ACC, and Arizona in the PAC-10. Both teams beat the Tigers, and both teams have lost seven times in their own league. The pollsters look at these in-league losses, and weigh these things very highly.

Tennessee beat the Tigers soundly, but lost six times in their South East Conference, and you best believe the pollsters made note of that.

So in the AP poll, Memphis is ranked 7th. Arizona, Tennessee and Georgia Tech are far far out of the top 25.

Arizona is mentioned 8th in "others receiving votes" Tennessee is mentioned 25th in "others receiving votes" right in front of Vermont, and Georgia Tech isn't mentioned at all.

Anonymous said...

As an AAU coach, you are one guy that knows basketball. Enjoyed your post and will continue to read. WHO are you?

Coach said...

Ok George, your right to an extent. Cal has used the situation to his advantage in that a young team hasn't had to take on defeats they most likely would have had if they were a member of a more elite conference.

This situation probably is a more an issue for 1) fans and 2) the media. But, it does leave the team open for criticism. And, there is a much greater probability that they get bounced early by a "less talented" team in the NCAAs.

Coach said...


As much as I wish I were an actual coach, that one will have to wait until the kids are completely grown.

I have done some coaching over the years and would like to do it again someday, but for now I'm just a basketball fan that recognizes the value of telling the Memphis story.

I feel like I know basketball pretty good and I definitely understand the business side of basketball.

Unfortunately for Memphis, their fan base isn't the size of many "national" schools, so there isn't as much talk about them. I'm just a single guy trying to change a little of that.