Thomas J,.Russo, USA Today Sports

Non-conference schedule should be ramping up under Archie Miller

Based on his history at Dayton and his comments yesterday, Archie Miller plans an upgrade in Indiana's non-conference scheduling.

Non-conference scheduling has been a sore point among the Indiana fan base for quite a long time. 

The practice of bringing in lower major teams that often were not among the top 200-250 teams in the computer ratings began in the Kelvin Sampson era and continued in Tom Crean's nine seasons.

Economics played a part of it as smaller programs usually don't require an return trip to their home arena. Call it "purchased games" for lack of a better term. 

The practice has caused much consternation among mid-major coaches. It often costs them the opportunity for quality wins since they're often reluctant to go to a big school without some sort of return visit.

Illinois State head coach Dan Muller went to social media this month after his Redbirds did not earn an NCAA at-large berth despite a 28 win season that saw his team go 17-1 in the Missouri Valley.

https://twitter.com/DanMuller/status/841273731880218624

That tweet earned about 4,000 retweets.  

Here is a look at Indiana's non-conference history with teams over 200 in the KenPom computer ratings:

Tom Crean era

2016-17 (7) - UMass Lowell, Liberty, Mississippi Valley State, SIU Edwardsville, Houston Baptist, Delaware State, Austin Peay

2015-16 (6) - Eastern Illinois, Austin Peay, St. John's, Alcorn State, McNeese State, Kennesaw State

2014-15 (7) - Mississippi Valley State, Texas Southern, Lamar, UNC Greensboro, Savannah State, Grand Canyon, New Orleans

2013-14 (7) - Chicago State, LIU Brooklyn, Samford, Evansville, North Florida, Nicholls State, Kennesaw State

2012-13 (7) - Sam Houston State, Ball State, Coppin State, Central Connecticut State, Mount St. Mary's, Florida Atlantic, Jacksonville 

2011-12 (5) - Chattanooga, Gardner Webb, Stetson, Howard, UM-Baltimore County

2010-11 (7) - Florida Gulf Coast, Mississippi Valley State, North Carolina Central, Northwestern State, Savannah State, SIU Edwardsville, South Carolina State 

2009-10 (6) - Howard, USC Upstate, Northwestern State, North Carolina Central, Loyola-MD, Bryant

2008-09 (2) - Northwestern State, Chaminade

This works out to exactly an average of six +200 opponent non-conference games a season.

In the two year Kelvin Sampson era the average was 4.5 games of +200 opponents. In the Mike Davis era Indiana only played about two of the +200 level per season on average.

Archie Miller approach

Coming from Dayton, Miller has put together his schedules very methodically, often looking for teams with good enough ratings to help get his Dayton team into the NCAA . It's worked as the Flyers have made the dance the last four seasons.

Here's a look at his +200 level competition in non-conference by year:

2016-17 (3) - Austin Peay, Portland, VMI

2015-16 (2) - SE Missouri State, Miami-Ohio

2014-15 (4) - Alabama A&M, Illinois-Chicago, Miami-Ohio, Boston University

2013-14 (4) - St. Francis PA, Delaware State, Central Michigan, Winthrop

2012-13 (3) - Northern Illinois, Miami-Ohio, Florida Atlantic

2011-12 (4) - UNC Wilmington, Wake Forest, Florida International, Illinois-Chicago

That works out to just over three per season on average. And almost one per year was a Mid-American Conference team that was a natural rival but down versus normal performance.

Here is a comparison of the non-conference strength of schedule over the last six years for Indiana and Dayton

As measured by KenPom.com:

Year Indiana Dayton
2016-17 312 75
2015-16 160 23
2014-15 197 71
2013-14 298 107
2012-13 183 102
2011-12 203 68
AVERAGE 226 74

So on average the Dayton non-conference schedule has been ranked 152 spots above Indiana's non-conference schedule on average these last six seasons.

Archie's own comments

Given the above, it was probably no surprise that scheduling was the first question the media gave out yesterday to Miller. Here is what he had to say:

"The non-conference scheduling component is probably the second most important thing you do as a coach other than recruit," Miller said. "Here at Indiana University, non-conference scheduling is about finding a way to put yourself in a great position in terms of seeding. You know, you have to be the master of creating a non-conference schedule that, one, creates great excitement with your fans; two, challenges you at the highest level as you enter the Big Ten; and three, puts you in a non-conference résumé that stacks up with the best teams in college basketball. That's what will be our goal."

One easy way to ramp up that schedule is to restart the Kentucky series. The Miller family has connections to Kentucky coach John Calipari as they both hail from the western Pennsylvania area.

"In terms of the series with Kentucky, that's far removed from where I've come from, so that's something that down the line I think Fred (Glass) and I will discuss and see how that happens," Miller said. "I know it's an important piece to the puzzle here with our tradition. But right now we'll just focus on the day at hand."

Glass hinted yesterday that Indiana may be more flexible on the campus versus neutral site debate that helped lead to the cancellation.

"I'm very receptive to restarting the Kentucky series," Glass said. "I'd like to play one of the games in the cycle here, but I think the most important thing is we get that thing going again."


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