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Competitive Inequities In The Schedule

A comment from Buzz Williams after yesterday's St. John's game got me to thinking, and thinking led to research.

Nate Shron

Before we go any further, let's turn things over to A Daly Dose Of Hoops for the aforementioned comments from head coach Buzz Williams so you know the starting point.

Buzz Williams appears to be referring to his team's lifeless performance against St. John's and relating it to the fact that the Golden Eagles played a game just two days earlier against Providence. The larger point that he's making is that it's the third time this season that the Big East has scheduled Marquette to play in a game/off day/game situation this season, and there will still be one more situation like that later this season. It's also a not quite subtle comment on the necessity for the scheduling to be done on the timing that Fox Sports 1 prefers, as they have hours on their broadcasts to fill.

There are two relatively easy counterpoints to that, though. The first one is the obvious one: Fox Sports is paying the Big East and its member schools a HUGE amount of money. It's a massive raise over what they were earning from ESPN last year, and a still massive improvement over what they were going to make if they had remained aligned with the schools that are now in the American Athletic Conference. Odds are that as Fox Sports 1 stabilizes their broadcasting schedules going forward, the need for rapid turnarounds like Marquette has experienced will diminish.

The second counterpoint takes a long view of history. Marquette will definitely have five situations this season where they will play two games in three days or even play games without a day off. The possibility for more encounters like that does exist, but that all depends on winning postseason games. Under Buzz Williams, Marquette has faced these situations at least four times every season, with the fewest number coming in his first season at the helm. In situations where Marquette has had one or fewer days off in between games under Buzz Williams, Marquette has a record of 48-22. If you ignore the first games in those groupings and focus on the games where Marquette has had a day or less to prepare, MU's record is 24-15. Is that most of the losses? Sure. But it's hard to get bummed out about winning 62% of your games in that circumstance.

The schedule is what the schedule is. It's not important to worry about the timing of the games, just play to win. Buzz Williams' Marquette teams have a track record of being able to succeed in these situations, and remember: the goal of every season is to end up playing in three game/day off/game situations in order to attack some nylon with a pair of scissors.