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BYU Basketball: 'Strength' in numbers

By Greg Wrubell   |  Posted Jun 19th, 2013 @ 8:30am


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The BYU football program is about to face its toughest schedule ever. While not grabbing as much attention, the BYU basketball team's 2013-14 schedule is shaping up as a pretty good one, too.

A few games remain to be confirmed, but what we know already is that BYU will:

face two teams from the group comprised of Wichita State, Texas and DePaul in Kansas City, as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

visit Oregon.

visit Massachusetts (game to be played off-campus in Springfield, Mass.).

visit Utah.

host Iowa State.

host Weber State.

play Utah State at Energy Solutions Arena (according to the Aggies' season-ticket renewal info).

Additionally, BYU will play two home games against NCAA DI teams as assigned by the CBE Hall of Fame Classic organizers, plus three (likely home) games yet to be announced, to arrive at a final tally of 13 non-conference contests and the now-standard regular season slate of 31 games.

The West Coast Conference is working on its league schedule (to be released by the end of August), which will in 2013-14 feature 10 teams each playing 18 WCC contests, with the addition of Pacific to the fold (membership becomes official on July 1st).

On paper, BYU's upcoming docket should put the Cougars in position to construct an impressive postseason portfolio. There are games against "name" teams, and enough true non-conference away games to demonstrate the Cougars' willingness to travel and test themselves.

Many postseason-minded teams schedule with those credentials in mind, hoping to create and sustain an impressive RPI, which according to the NCAA is simply a measure of "whom a team plays, whom it beats and how difficult the overall schedule is compared with all other Division I teams in that sport."

The basic RPI formula is: 25% of a team's winning percentage (WP) + 50% of the opponents' average winning percentage (OWP) + 25% of the opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (OOWP). RPI remains only one of many but among the most visible factors considered by the NCAA tournament selection committee in seeding and bracketing teams every March.

It is clearly important that one schedule teams that will help and not harm one's RPI, but which teams are those? Simply identifying the teams with the best historical RPIs is one way to go about it, but another helpful metric is Strength of Schedule Impact, or SOSI.

SOSI is described by college hoops analyst Jerry Palm as "a ranking of the positive impact each team has on its opponents' strength of schedule. Having a positive impact on strength of schedule is not necessarily the same as having a positive impact on RPI, since RPI is also dependent on whether you beat that opponent and where you play them." The SOSI formula is two-third of a team's winning percentage and one-third of its opponents' winning percentage.

Whether in RPI or SOSI, BYU has excelled under Dave Rose, ranking among the nation's best teams in both measures throughout his eight-season tenure.

Over the last five seasons (2008-09 through 2012-13), BYU's average season-ending RPI of 32.0 ranks 17th nationally, but its five-year average SOSI of 31.0 ranks 11th.

Relative to résumé, BYU is annually playing a lot of the the 'right' teams, and is at the same time, one of the 'right' teams to play, if you want the chance to polish your postseason credentials.

In short, scheduling BYU is good for business.

Here are the top 25 teams in NCAA DI hoops, over the last five years, according to SOSI, with their five-season average RPI included for comparison. As you will see, BYU is in some pretty good company:

NCAA Division I Top 25 Teams in Five-Year Average SOSI

National Rank Team Conference Five-Year average SOSI Five-Year average RPI National Rank
1 Duke ACC 5.2 2.8 1
2 Kansas Big 12 6.0 4.8 2
3 Syracuse ACC 13.8 9.2 3
4 Ohio State Big Ten 17.8 14.4 4
5 Gonzaga WCC 18.8 30.0 15
6 Memphis AAC 19.4 23.6 9
7 St. Mary's WCC 19.8 36.4 21
8 Louisville AAC 27.4 14.8 5
9 San Diego State MWC 30.0 23.2 8
10 Temple AAC 30.4 25.6 11
11 BYU WCC 31.0 32.0 17
12 Missouri SEC 33.4 28.6 13
13 Michigan St. Big Ten 34.6 17.6 6
14 New Mexico MWC 35.6 34.4 21
15 Kentucky SEC 35.8 29.4 14
16 UNLV MWC 38.2 37.4 22
17 VCU A-10 38.4 45.8 31
18 North Carolina ACC 40.6 24.8 10
19 Butler Big East 41.0 40.4 24
20 Pittsburgh ACC 41.0 33.8 19
21 Florida SEC 41.4 31.2 16
22 Kansas St. Big 12 42.0 36.2 20
23 Georgetown Big East 45.6 21.4 7
24 Wisconsin Big Ten 45.8 27.2 12
25 Marquette Big East 48.2 34.2 20

Top 25 SOSI teams, by conference:

ACC (4); WCC (3); AAC (3); Big Ten (3); Big East (3); MWC (3); SEC (3); Big 12 (2); A-10 (1)

The Pac-12 is notable for its absence from the above list; the highest-ranked SOSI team is Washington, with a five-year average rank of 57.8--33rd place nationally. Also noteworthy is the West Coast Conference placing three teams in the top 11 in SOSI.

Here's BYU's five-year SOSI profile, compared to teams in the West Coast Conference:

WCC Teams in Five-Year Average SOSI

Conference Rank Team Five-Year average SOSI National Rank Five-Year average RPI Conference Rank
1 Gonzaga 18.8 5 30.0 1
2 St. Mary's 19.8 7 36.4 3
3 BYU 31.0 11 32.0 2
4 Pacific* 155.4 144 171.2 5
5 Portland 174.2 171 153.8 4
6 USF 195.0 198 175.0 6
7 SCU 202.4 209 192.0 7
8 LMU 232.6 257 218.4 8
9 San Diego 241.2 268 219.0 9
10 Pepperdine 279.8 319 260.8 10

*as member of the Big West Conference

Most notable is how pronounced the line of demarcation is between the "big three" and the rest of the WCC, but there are some positive signs relative to improved competitive balance.

When analyzing the five-season stats season-by-season, five of the league's ten teams (Gonzaga, Santa Clara, Pacific, San Diego and Pepperdine) recorded their best single-season SOSI and RPI rankings in 2012-13, while St. Mary's recorded its best single-season RPI ranking in 2012-13.

Now, a look at how BYU and the instate schools compare in average SOSI and RPI:

Instate Teams in Five-Year Average SOSI

Rank Team Conference Five-year average SOSI National Rank Five-year average RPI Instate Rank
1 BYU WCC 31.0 11 32.0 1
2 Utah State MWC 52.0 26 64.0 2
3 Weber St. Big Sky 76.8 50 98.0 3
4 Utah Pac-12 183.0 184 143.2 4
5 Utah Valley WAC 208.8 218 271.6 5
6 SUU Big Sky 276.8 317 281.4 6

And finally, a look at the Cougars' known non-conference opponents in 2013-14:

BYU's Confirmed 2013-14 Non-conference Opponents in Five-Year Average SOSI

Rank Team Conference Five-Year average SOSI National Rank Five-Year average RPI Rank Among BYU's Non-conf Opponents
1 Utah St. MWC 52.0 26 64.0 3
2 WSU* MVC 58.0 34 58.2 2
3 Texas* Big 12 70.8 43 50.4 1
4 Weber St. Big Sky 78.8 50 98.0 4
5 Iowa St. Big 12 123.6 98 100.4 5
6 Oregon Pac-12 136.4 114 110.4 6
7 UMass A-10 153.8 142 124.0 7
8 Utah Pac-12 183.0 184 143.2 8
9 DePaul* Big East 271.0 308 210.8 9

*all three teams will compete in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic; BYU will face two of the three teams

At a time when "Top 100" wins are so valuable, BYU could conceivably face upwards of a half-dozen such teams in non-conference play, with league foes Gonzaga and St. Mary's also expected to earn that designation.

Under Dave Rose, BYU has crafted a solid and proven scheduling formula, and by virtue of its own merits, has benefited the scheduling aims of others.

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The five-season SOSI and RPI numbers are just the latest measures illustrating BYU's remarkable run of success under Dave Rose.

As a reminder of what has been accomplished in recent seasons, here are a few highlights:

BYU has won 20+ games for a school-record eight consecutive seasons—-every season of the Dave Rose era.

Over the last seven seasons, BYU has averaged 27 wins; prior to Rose's tenure, only one team in BYU history ever recorded more than 27 victories in a single season.

BYU entered the 2012-13 season having qualified for six consecutive NCAA Tournaments, a school record.

In 2012-13, BYU participated in the NIT for the first time since 2006, and won three games to advance to the semifinals at New York City's Madison Square Garden-—the Cougars' first postseason trip to MSG since 1966.

With its NIT appearance, BYU extended a school record for most consecutive years with a postseason appearance, now standing at eight--all eight years of Coach Rose's tenure.

BYU has won at least one postseason game in a school-record four consecutive seasons.

With a 10-6 record during its 2013 West Coast Conference campaign, BYU extended another school record with double-digit conference wins in an eighth straight season-—every season of the Dave Rose era.

BYU has been in the top 20 in tempo in each of the last four seasons and five of Coach Dave Rose's eight seasons overall.

BYU has been ranked 12th, 13th, 7th and 2nd in scoring offense in the last four seasons, and has placed in the national top 25 five times in Coach Rose's eight seasons.

BYU has been ranked in the top 15 in assists/game five times, and in the top 35 seven times in Coach Rose's eight seasons.

With a BYU record of 209-66, Rose is 7th in career win percentage among active NCAA Division I head coaches, and the winningest coach (by percentage) in BYU Basketball history.

During the 2012-13 season, Rose recorded his 200th Division I head coaching victory, in his 259th game at BYU—making him the 15th-fastest in DI coaching history to reach that milestone.

Rose has won more games (209) through his first eight seasons than all but five other Division I coaches, all-time.

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Football season will arrive well before Rose and the hoopsters hit the hardwoods, but with the recent NCAA rule change permitting hoops practices to start two weeks earlier, we'll be discussing BYU Basketball sooner than ever. Numbers and facts like the ones cited above already give Cougar fans plenty to talk--and be excited--about.

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Photo: Courtesy Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

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