Projecting The Quality Of Each Non-Conference Basketball Game

With the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s process becoming so analytically driven, scheduling is more important than ever. With every team being sorted by the NCAA’s proprietary “NET” system and each game being categorized between quadrant-1 and quadrant-4 (with 1 being the highest quality of game and 4 being the lowest) teams need to make sure they are getting enough quality quadrant-1 games, and wins–all while avoiding quadrant-3 and quadrant-4 losses.

 

The quadrants are as follows: 

 

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240

Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

 

Florida entered last season as a projected NCAA Tournament team, but couldn’t take advantage of their quadrant-1 opportunities going 3-10 in those games, showing that when given opportunities to play NCAA Tournament caliber teams they would struggle. Of course, they also had a rare quadrant-4 loss to Texas Southern, a red flag on their resume that put them behind most other bubble teams down the stretch and something that could have really stung them had they won a few more games in the SEC Tournament to get closer to the bubble. 

 

Today we are going to be looking at each of Florida’s non-conference opponents to see where they are likely to land in the quadrant system, giving the Gators a picture of how many quality games they have and which quad-3 and quad-4 games they need to avoid losses in. To do this we’ll be using T-Rank, a popular analytics tool built by Bart Torvik. He has his 2023 projections out and T-Rank is perennially one of the most accurate analytic tools, so this will be a good way to project the quality of teams Florida is playing.  

 

A couple of notes before we begin–for starters, this year the SEC is looking as strong as ever. There are currently 9 SEC teams, including Florida, in the top-50 in T-Rank. That means the Gators are going to get all kinds of opportunities for quadrant-1 games in conference play, so they didn’t need to go all out scheduling a ridiculously tough schedule, and in fact it could be argued that doing so would be a mistake. 

 

There is one big “gap” in the schedule right now when it comes to projecting the quality of Florida’s opponents and that’s the PK85 in Portland which will be the premier non-conference event on the college basketball calendar. The bracket isn’t set, but the field (on Florida’s side) consists of:

 

Duke 

Gonzaga 

Purdue
West Virginia
Xavier

Oregon State

Portland State

 

The only “bad” games possible would be against Oregon State and Portland State, and Florida almost certainly won’t be matched up with either of them in the opening round. Florida should have at minimum one quadrant-1 opportunity in this tournament and could easily have three. 

 

The final note, and one that will be important for everyone as they continue to get to know head coach Todd Golden–this schedule wasn’t actually set up by him. Due to contracts, return games, and them already agreeing to play in major multi-team events, there was only really one game for Golden to schedule once he got to Florida and that was a neutral site game with Ohio (more on that later).

 

During his time at San Francisco, Golden was an excellent scheduler and it’s a huge part of the reason that the Dons were able to make the NCAA Tournament last year. Unfortunately he didn’t have the opportunity to work his magic with the schedule this year, so it’s something we’ll have to wait until next season for. 

 

Without further ado, here are Florida’s non-conference opponents, their projected NET finish, and what quadrant it would be based on where the game takes place.

 

Stony Brook

 

Projected Net Finish: 259th

Projected Quadrant: 4

 

Kennesaw State

 

Projected Net Finish: 248

Projected Quadrant: 4

 

Florida Atlantic

 

Projected Net Finish: 86

Projected Quadrant: 3

 

@ Florida State

 

Projected Net Finish: 73

Projected Quadrant: 1

 

Florida A&M

 

Projected Net Finish: 358

Projected Quadrant: 4

 

Stetson

 

Projected Net Finish: 252

Projected Quadrant: 4

 

UConn

 

Projected Net Finish: 59

Projected Quadrant: 2

 

Ohio (Neutral Site–Tampa)

 

Projected Net Finish: 157

Projected Quadrant: 3

 

Oklahoma (Neutral Site–Charlotte)

 

Projected Net Finish: 31

Projected Quadrant: 1

 

@ Kansas State (Big 12-SEC Tournament)

 

Projected Net Finish: 70

Projected Quadrant: 1

 

The number of games in each quadrant:

 

Quadrant 1: 3

Quadrant 2: 1

Quadrant 3: 1

Quadrant 4: 4

 

It would also be reasonable to sprinkle the three PK85 games between quadrant-1 and quadrant-2, but for now we’ll leave those out.

 

Looking at where a couple of these teams are projected, you can cheer for a couple of them (when they’re not playing the Gators) to perform well and get a few spots higher in the NET, perhaps bumping them into a higher quadrant which would be beneficial to the Gators. 

 

Given how many quadrant-1 and quadrant-2 opportunities the Gators will have in the SEC they’ll have every opportunity to put together a resume worthy of an NCAA tournament berth and a high seed. For a lot of teams in college basketball, simply performing well isn’t enough because they aren’t able to put a good enough schedule together but that is far from the case for Florida. Now that they have their roster and schedule in place, the 2022-23 season starts to look a whole lot closer.



Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.