UNC’s Schedule Is Stronger Than You Think and Other RPI Observations

So when UNC set their schedule before the season it looked on paper like it would be very tough. Six games away from Chapel Hill with two at Kentucky and Ohio State with the possibility of playing a top ten ranked Louisville team in Las Vegas. What happened? Kentucky went to down the rebuilding road, OSU is good but not great and Louisville lost to BYU which turned out to be a tough opponent in their own right. From there UNC started a slate of games against various schools everyone assumed, based on their names, were certified Little Debbie snacks. Thus the myth was born that UNC was playing a weak schedule. As it turns out that is not even close to the truth. The Heels have the 32nd ranked strength of schedule according to the RPI. However only three teams found in the current AP Top 25 are ranked ahead of UNC in SOS with recently deposed Xavier also above UNC and #25 Wisconsin right behind them. In terms of where UNC’s schedule falls compared to the rest of the ACC, it is the second best in the conference.

Team RPI Rank SOS Rank Record vs
RPI 100
Rd/Neut Record
1. GT 65th 11th 1-5 4-3
2. UNC 2nd 32nd 6-0 7-0
3. FSU 32nd 37th 3-4 3-4
4. VT 83rd 69th 0-3 3-6
5. NCSU 43rd 82nd 2-1 4-2
6. DUKE 22nd 94th 2-1 4-1
7. UVA 57th 99th 1-3 2-2
8. CLEM 23rd 123rd 1-1 4-1
9. MD 188th 137th 0-4 0-2
10. BC 72nd 147th 2-2 2-0
11. WF 82nd 228th 2-1 1-3
12. MIA 60th 265th 3-1 5-1

Aside from the six RPI 100 teams UNC has faced(and beaten), the Heels have also won all seven road/neutral games they have played. Regardless of the names of the teams, the raw numbers paint a fairly clear picture that UNC’s schedule is not as weak as some would portend.

The list above offered up some interesting observations about ACC teams and their RPI ratings.

  • It would appear at present Miami’s 12-1 is quite possibly a house of cards since it was built on one of the worst schedules in the country. Then again the Hurricanes are also 3-1 versus the top 100 and 5-1 away from home which makes it a wash for now.
  • Any doubts that Maryland is downright horrible? 0-4 versus the RPI 100 and an ranked 188th overall? At this point playing Maryland would damage your SOS.
  • FSU is positioned quite well where the RPI and SOS is concerned to the point 9-7 would probably get them into the NCAA Tournament. The same is true of GT if they can find a way to win enough games in the ACC. Their main problem is they are sitting at 6-6 with 15 ACC games left and an three OOC games versus Georgia, Presbyterian and UConn. The Jackets need to win 10 of the next 18 to get to at least 16 wins which is probably the bare minimum in the eyes of the committee
  • On the opposite end Virginia and Boston College might have issues with their SOS if they end up on the bubble.
  • Duke and Clemson have their RPI hurt by their respective schedules at 99th and 123rd respectively.
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7 Responses to UNC’s Schedule Is Stronger Than You Think and Other RPI Observations

  1. william says:

    OSU is no patsy.

  2. Tar Heel Fan says:

    No they are not. Actually they are #15 in the RPI.

  3. william says:

    What really is at work is that old scheduling question about whether it is easier to defeat ten schmoes and one top ten opponent or to defeat no top ten opponents but defeat say, five teams ranked in the top 50.

    This question has no easy answers. For most teams, undoubtedly the second option would result in the more defeats and thus would be “harder”. See Charlotte or Davidson’s schedule for an example of this.

    For an elite team, it might be true, however, that they would have a greater probability of sustaining a loss were they to play say, a Memphis or a Pittsburgh on the road or on a neutral court.

    For any other team in the ACC, except possibly Duke, I submit that Carolina’s schedule would have resulted in at least two losses. In that sense it was hard but there were probably no potential Final Four opponents included.

    Nevertheless, Carolina plays Duke twice every year; once in Cameron, and if that doesn’t prepare a squad for post-season, then I doubt playing Memphis in New York would either.

  4. DallasTigerAlum says:

    Dang … you TarHeels are constantly having to defend your creampuff schedule this year, aren’t you ..?

    To quote you: “only three teams found in the current AP Top 25 are ranked ahead of UNC in SOS” … Like maybe, um … MEMPHIS ..???!!!
    Then how can you think that UNC should be ranked higher than Memphis right now …?
    No need to really answer me, as every other Tarheel I’ve spoken with is in TOTAL denial about this season …
    Can’t wait for Sunday nite’s game … You guys will finally get a little competition … Still won’t match Memphis’s current record of defeating 3 Top 20 teams.
    Good Luck .. !

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    First of all, the schedule is by no means “creampuff” you must have us confused with Duke. Granted we have not played as many big dogs as Memphis but then again we also don’t play in a conference full of patsy schools either. Credit to Calipari for beefing up the OOC because he knew it was necessary but let’s not forget the vast difference between playing 16 games in the ACC which includes four huge rivalry games for UNC versus Memphis playing the weak sisters of Conf USA.

    In our case, the schedule at first glance before the season was better than it has turned out to be. As I stated at the beginning of the post UK fell flat, OSU turned out to be unranked when we played them(but #15 in the RPI at present) and Louisville did not live up to their preseason top 10 ranking and lost before we played them giving us BYU. In any other year those three games could have all been top 15-20 affairs. It turns out not to be the case.

    Now to deal with your arguments.

    I felt a need to defend the schedule because it was being unduly criticized by rival fan bases as not being a strong schedule.

    As for quoting me, would you have felt better had I named Memphis instead of referring to the three teams generally speaking? I am well aware that Memphis has a better schedule and as I said before I am also aware they had to go looking for top 20 opponents because they sure as heck were not going to find them on the conference schedule.

    I would also challenge you to find anywhere on this blog where I have asserted UNC should be ranked ahead of Memphis. I know I did not in the post above and when discussing UNC being ranked #1 I said I was happy they were #1 but preferred a national title above it. It is what it is right now and until UNC loses, it will probably remain that way. For the record, Memphis is actually the one team I do not want to see on the other side in the Final Four. The main reason being is I think they have the PG play to rival our Ty Lawson which makes them perhaps the most dangerous team out there.

    The game at Clemson will be interesting and that would be true even if Clemson was unranked because this is one of those games that is indicative of how tough playing in the ACC is because going into a place like Littlejohn and winning is a tough task regardless of the rankings. Say what you want but Memphis will not see games like that in Conference USA. In the ACC tradition and rivalry come into play and elevates an opposing team to a higher level of play.

    As for Memphis three games versus the top 20, talk to me at the end of the season. Based on the current schedule and rankings Memphis plays only one more top 20 team this season in Tennessee. UNC has four ahead of them by virtue of playing Clemson and Duke twice. So by season’s end UNC and Memphis will have played the same number of top 20 teams and there is a good chance the SOS will favor UNC by that point given where ACC teams rate versus those in Conference USA.

  6. william says:

    Absolutely. It is nice to be number one, but it means little until at least February. And even then, Illinois was ranked number 1 all year in 2005 but it was clear that they were not the best team in the nation.

    About the schedule: Louisville, Kentucky and OSU have all been to the Final Eight during the last three years. Louisville and OSU have both been in the Final Four and Kentucky just missed.

    19 years out of twenty, playing at Kentucky is going to be harder than playing Pitt in NY. I make these points not because I care what any rival fans think. I say this because our own Carolina fans keep complaining (without cause in my opinion) about the schedule, which they never seem to think is hard enough, except for two years ago when it was too hard. Oh well!

    Just take a look at Clemson’s schedule for comparison. They haven’t beaten any teams ranked above 46 in Pomeroy. Carolina has beaten two ranked higher than that and also has beaten Davidson in Charlotte and Kentucky in Lexington. Barely beating Mississippi State and losing to Mississipi does not a power schedule make.

    I am probably wasting my time here, though, since after tonight this line of argument ought to go away, but then again if UNC kills Clemson, then everyone will say, well, who has Carolina beaten. Clemson is obviously no good and then we may have to wait until February 6th against Duke. And then if Carolina wins that one, people will say, well, you are supposed to win at home and then we will have to wait until March 8th in Durham.

    So let me go ahead and say it. Carolina is over-ranked and they will be until and unless they win every game between now and March 8th and then win that one in Cameron.

    But of course, that still wouldn’t prove that Carolina is tournament tough, so they will probably still be over-ranked until they win the ACC tournament.

    And that of course really doesn’t mean much anymore, as Carolina usually doesn’t win the title in the same year as the ACC tournament, so unless Carolina can then win the NCAA tournament, then they are over-ranked.

    And even if they win the tournament, they still won’t be as good as the 1973 UCLA Bruins, so Carolina fans should not get too excited, because Carolina will still be over-rated.

    But as for me, I don’t worry about all this stuff. I just love to watch the beautiful intricacies of the Williams’ offense and secondary break. I will leave it to the rest to decide how good Carolina really is.

  7. 52BigGameJames says:

    good call DTA–Tigers are a tough team!

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