The Deacs have been accused of having a poor non-conference SOS. This is true and there isn't a real way to spin the fact that they played three teams in the 300s. (according to Pomeroy rankings--The RPI is dead.)
That notwithstanding, if the Deacs had played teams in the 150-200 range rather than the 200+ teams, the non-conference schedule would not be a blemish at all. Honestly, if you look at their better non-conference wins, there are some really strong victories there...
(after the jump)
Team: Record (Pomeroy Rating) [Big Wins]
Baylor: 15-5 (30) [Providence (?), Arizona State, Washington State, Ok State, Kansas State] The Bears have been consistently in the 20-30 ranking all year. This will turn out to be the best win the Deacs had OOC this year. Scott Drew's team has definitely sweet sixteen potential, but they are crippled by their shoot-or-die mentality. If they don't hit, they lose, plain and simple. This was a victory that will make the difference if the Deacs are stuck between seeds in the tournament selection committee. They have lost two in a row though against Oklahoma and Texas.
BYU: 15-5 (27) [Utah State, Tulsa, San Diego State] BYU has lost three of their last four and lost a tough one where they hit a shot at the buzzer but it was waved off against Arizona State. This team should still be a tournament team though in the long run and nothing can really take away from the fact that the Deacs broke the nation's longest home win streak.
Wright State: 12-8 (63) [Oral Roberts, Cleveland State, USF (?)] Wright State is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. When they played Wake Forest they were 2-7 and had a number of starters injured. Since the loss to the Demon Deacons, Wright State got healthy, and rattled off 10 wins in their last 11 and put themselves in fourth place in the Horizon League. If this team continues to play well and finds a way to finish second in the Horizon, there is no way the selection committee could keep them out of the tournament. The NCAAs are a "what have you done for me lately?" tournament, and if the Raiders can finish strong in their last nine games (and force a strong showing in their conference tournament) they will make a strong case for themselves. Coach Brad Brownell is a terrific coach and is going to get a major job somewhere.
UTEP: 12-8 (65) [St Mary's, New Mexico, Houston] It's really hard to make sense of this UTEP team. On paper, they are a very long, athletic and talented team. They lost games they could have won to Santa Clara, Houston, UAB and Tulsa. They also won six of seven in a stretch from December to January, but they are 2-3 in their last five. They have 10 games left and if they finish strong, this will give the Deacs a solid non-conference win. If they fizzle, this win will not look as strong come March.
The Deacs have some real stinkers that are bringing them down (UNC-Central, UNC-Wilmington, Winston-Salem State, Bucknell), but at least with Wilmington and Bucknell (not to mention the reloaded Indiana team and their 213 Pomeroy ranking), when these games were scheduled, both teams were good mid-majors. Winston-Salem State is a "rivalry" in the city and really does not bother me. The UNC-Central series, on the other hand, should be eliminated.
Teams get penalized by the computers for 200+ teams, but to be honest, what really is the difference between a team at 201 and 301? Big East teams do the same thing and the only thing separating teams between 200-300 is bad luck, scheduling, injuries or otherwise. Those teams are that low for a reason.
The OOC schedule is not ideal, but the next time you try to dispel the Demon Deacons by citing their "poor" non-conference schedule, look deeper into the good teams that the Deacs beat. Not to mention the fact that when the competition has heated up due to ACC play (UNC, BC, Clemson, Va Tech and Duke), the Deacs have gone 4-1.