How to Make a Schedule?

The A-10 had one of its worst seasons as a league in 2022-23, with VCU being the lone bid in the conference and earning only a 12 seed.  As the conference’s highest finisher in KenPom (#60 after their first-round loss to St. Mary’s), it’s quite likely that VCU wouldn’t have been selected if they had lost to Dayton in the conference final.  It was the first time since 2005 that the A-10 had a only a single bid.

Some of the metrics from 2022-23, via

In the most recent 3 Bid League podcast, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and College Hoops Today opines that the move from a 16 to 18-game conference season is a factor in the league’s decline in bids from an all-time high of 6 bids in 2014.  He also outlines some scheduling tactics that might help get more home games with P5+ teams.

Others have suggested that the way to get more at large bids is to work the NET and other metrics rankings by demolishing a bunch of buy teams at home and then have a great league season.  For a discussion of this scheduling strategy, see the scheduling thread on the message board. 

Fordham did something like that scheduling maneuver that last year.  They won 25 games, but they had the absolute dead-last non-con strength of schedule in Division I.  The Rams played 7 home games against KenPom-ranked 300-363 teams, and a total of 10 home games against teams ranked in the bottom third of the KenPom rankings (teams between 243-363).  Happily, Fordham won all those games.  Their other games were wins against #158 Harvard and at #103 Tulane, but a 26-point loss in their only non-con road game against at top 100  team (#22 Arkansas).

Ya know, that’s great for Fordham to compile their second-biggest season win total in school history, but this is a school that finished tied for second in the A-10 conference race, and they had the worst NCSOS in all of Division I.  They finished the season with a 137 KenPom despite a 25-8 overall record and a 12-6 league finish.  On top of that, their league schedule was 5th easiest schedule among the 15 league teams.  The lopsided schedule gave them a great overall win total, but didn’t give them a robust opportunity for a Top 100 non-con win.  And when they beat Dayton at home and VCU on the road…. those results dragged down the two league front-runners. Maybe that’s what Rothstein meant by having the two extra league games?

In the end, Fordham didn’t even get an NIT invite with their 25 wins against only 8 losses, even AFTER Dayton and Saint Louis both said they would not accept an NIT bid.  That meant that in addition to only one NCAA bid, there were zero NIT bids for the 15-member A-10. One postseason bid, TOTAL, between NCAA and NIT? I know that’s never ever happened before.

My thought is that the league should have a standard which promotes a more challenging non-con schedule to hedge against slip-ups in the conference schedule, engage in a challenge series with leagues like the WCC, Mountain West, and American.

The more quality teams the league can play, the more opportunities the A-10 has for Top-100 non-con wins against P5+ teams.  Last year, league teams got wins against Providence, Memphis, Drake, Pitt, Vanderbilt, DePaul, Clemson, and South Carolina.  Unfortunately, the conference as a whole dropped many more of their Top-100 games than they won, and top teams in the league lost to teams like #242 SIU Edwardsville (at home), #234 Jacksonville (at home), and #211 Buffalo (neutral), and #265 Fairleigh Dickinson (at home).  Loyola lost to #316 Tulsa at a neutral site… just an absolute killer.

The fewer teams worse than 250, the fewer opportunities for a resume killer.  The more opportunities against teams in the top 100, the more chances for a resume builder.  It’s just that simple.  And you’re not going to look like a fraud if you step up and play some home-and-home games against teams from good leagues.  If you get to the tournament via smoke and mirrors, you’re going to have a bad first weekend anyway.  That’s my philosophy.

In the two years Loyola has been in the A-10, they’ve been able to schedule neutral site non-con games against Clemson, Stanford, South Florida and Florida Atlantic.  That’s on top of the Hall of Fame Classic event in Kansas City this season, with three potential opponents in the Top 100.  It’s not clear whether the Ramblers have been able to schedule those games because of recent postseason success or because of A-10 membership, but it seems like both are a factor.

The league needs to step up and help schedule.  Create competitive partnerships with other conferences in similar circumstances, WCC, MWC, American, CUSA, Ivy, etc.  Rothstein talks about creating events that coincide with the assets of A-10 teams, such as a “Palestra Invitational.”  A few weeks ago, I had the idea for an “Amtrak Challenge,” featuring home-and-homes with cities that have Amtrak pairs, like Chicago-Milwaukee, Philadelphia-NYC, Boston-Providence, St. Louis-Chicago, Cincinnati-Indianapolis, DC-NYC, etc.  A lot of college students use Amtrak to commute between school and home.

Here’s the bottom line:  If none of the top 4-6 teams in the league have a better than .500 record against Top 100 teams, they don’t deserve bids.  If they’re losing at home to SIU Edwardsville and Jacksonville they’re not getting at large bids that they might otherwise get if those losses were to 100ish teams like Toledo or San Francisco.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts on the messageboard.

In Memoriam: Britton ‘Brot1Britu’ Rinehart

– 1929-2023 –

It’s my sad duty to report that beloved Rambler fan and Ramblermania legend Brot1Britu passed away May 21, 2023 in Akron, Ohio.  Known for his optimism, energy, passion for the Ramblers, and delightfully corny sense of humor, Brot– known as Britton Rinehart in the real world– authored approximately 10,000 posts on various versions of Ramblermania over the years– and hundreds more posts in the early years of the internet on AOL and other message boards.

Brot and his neighbor at a game in Youngstown in 2002.

A year or so after Ramblermania went live on July 17, 1998, a message board was added to the site and Brot1Britu popped up. Absolutely impossible not to like, Brot quickly embraced the role of elder statesman and helped Ramblermania have some of the best institutional knowledge of any college basketball message board.

I had the opportunity to attend several games sitting next to Brot in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Cleveland and Youngstown.  We developed a long distance friendship offline as well, exchanging cards, letters, books, and other gifts. 

Brot was already retired from his work in building equipment sales and well into his 60s when he discovered and embraced the early internet. On Ramblermania, he posted all about growing up as a Cubs fan on the far West Side near Oak Park, where he was a childhood friend of future fellow Rambler Bob Newhart. Brot and Bob attended Loyola together, but Brot left school before graduation to start working.  Brot’s devotion to his wife Dolores (whom he nicknamed “Longshot Lor” for her decision to take a chance on marrying Brot), was a regular feature of his posts that could melt hearts; Dolores passed away in 2012.

One of Ramblermania’s most beloved posts every so often was THE EARLY MORNING LINE, Brot’s early prediction/handicap of the league race in the choppy, jargonny style of the Daily Racing Form.  Brot was always ready to step in with an anecdote about the rebuilding of the men’s basketball program after World War II, the excitement of a jam-packed Chicago Stadium doubleheader, Red Rush’s introduction of a particular player from the 1966 team, memories of NBA legends who played against the Ramblers back in the day, or attending the 1963 Final Four in Louisville.

Brot was the genuine article… a buoyant, energetic, Mid-Century Midwestern Guy, with deep faith throughout his life. It was impossible to be down in the dumps in his company, no matter how bad the Ramblers might have been that season. Peace to him and his big, loving family. And may someone else step up and do the hard job he did all his life, being positive and making other people happy they’re around.

A-10 Schedule Parings Give Loyola a Rough Road

The A-10 schedule pairings for the 2023-24 men’s college basketball season are out, and the Ramblers again have one of their most attractive home schedules in a long, long time.  Dayton, St. Louis, UMass, Richmond, Davidson and St. Joseph’s are all coming to Gentile Arena for A-10 league play, plus cross-town rival UIC and probably the best program in the Ivy League, Harvard.  They’re not going to all be Top 100 programs this year, all of these programs have a solid pedigree and top 100 potential.

Dayton, UMass, George Mason, and LaSalle have all been in the Final Four; St. Joe’s and Davidson have both been in the Elite Eight within the past 20 years.  When was the last time Loyola had so many teams on their home schedule with high-level tournament experience?  You’d have to go back a few decades to find a home schedule with so many venerable opponents.

With neutral site games against Florida Atlantic (currently ranked #21 in Bart Torvik’s pre-season rankings), and two games against either Creighton (ranked #5 by, Colorado State (#60) and Boston College (#99), the non-con offers three very good chances to face Top 100 opponents on neutral courts.  There are several more games yet to be scheduled, so one or two more Top-100 contests are a possibility.

That’s the good news.  On the other hand, Loyola’s road schedule in the A-10 is a real beast.  The Ramblers will be playing at VCU, Fordham, Davidson, George Mason, St. Bonaventure, St. Joe’s, St. Louis, URI, and George Washington.  Those teams combined for a home conference winning percentage of .549 last year, which hands Loyola the second-toughest road schedule in the A-10.

Above Strength of Schedule analysis by Michael Bergman at A-10 Talk.

St. Bonaventure– isolated in a rural part of Western New York– is a really tough place to play, I’ve been told. Over the past 8 years, the Bonnies are 57-14 in conference play at home—that’s an 80.2% winning percentage.

VCU was 7-2 at home in league play last season, and Saint Louis was 8-1.  Those two teams were 2nd and 3rd in home attendance, with URI, St. Bonaventure and George Mason coming in 5th, 6th, and 7th in home attendance.  URI was a pretty bad team last year, rivalling Loyola for the basement.  But the Rams still managed to go 4-5 at home in conference play and knock off two of the better teams in the league, Dayton and Fordham.