The Fallacy of NCAA Basketball Non-Conference Scheduling

By Matt Josephs
Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE

As a Syracuse fan, I’ve heard the media cry about the non-conference schedule and it’s heavy lean to games in New York.  I can’t deny that is a true fact.  I can’t deny that my alma mater played just their 5th regular season road non-conference game outside New York in the last 10 seasons. Ironically, they’ve won all of those games so credit for those wins is casually forgotten. It’s not that uncommon that teams don’t stray far from home in their non-conference games. Here’s just a few examples you won’t hear about:

Duke Blue Devils:
2012 – Zero true road games.  They played in Atlanta, the Bahamas and will play in Charlotte and East Rutherford, NJ.
2011 – They played Ohio State in Columbus, but that was because they were forced to due to the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.  The Blue Devils took on Temple in Philadelphia, but not in the Liacouras Center.  They went to Madison Square Garden twice and played in Hawaii.
2010 – This was a banner season for Duke opponents.  They managed to get the Blue Devils to play in New York against St. John’s, UNC Greensboro at their place (big whoop) and Kansas State took on Duke at a neutral court in Kansas City.  The ACC squad took on Oregon, but played them at the Rose Garden.
2009 – Two games this season at Georgetown and at Wisconsin, but the game against the Badgers was part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge once again.

Kentucky Wildcats:
2012 – A game against Notre Dame in South Bend as well as a game against hated rival Louisville are the only two true road games.  Kentucky, much like Syracuse, likes to play a lot of home games against lesser squads.  They did play Maryland and Duke in neutral site games.
2011 – Indiana was the only road opponent this season.  UK did manage to leave town to play Kansas, Penn State and Old Dominion in neutral site contests
2010 – Two more games this season at Louisville and at North Carolina.  Including the postseason, the Wildcats played 11 road games and 12 neutral contests overall.
2009 – One lowly game in Bloomington against Indiana is all the Wildcats could muster.  They played in Cancun and New York in neutral site games.

North Carolina Tar Heels:
2012 – Three true road games at Long Beach State, Indiana and Texas although the game against the Hoosiers was part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.
2011 – Three more true road games at UNLV, UNC Asheville and Kentucky.  The Tar Heels have a practice of playing road games at the hometowns of their seniors.
2010 – Two true road games with Illinois (ACC/Big 10 Challenge) and Evansville.
2009 – Three more…Kentucky, Texas and Charleston are on the schedule.

The proof is in the pudding.  Both Duke and Kentucky have rarely left their states and played true road games yet the analysts are blinded by the big names.  Syracuse is merely playing the system in their favor and copying the blueprint laid out by the Blue Devils and Wildcats.  More teams should be like North Carolina who give the little guy the occasional game at their place. Mostly because they know they are going to win.

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