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Does Marquette Basketball Schedule Well Enough To Compete With The SEC?

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The football powerhouse conference is instituting an RPI minimum for non-conference basketball games, so how will this compare to the games that the Golden Eagles play?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Kentucky vs Texas A&M Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, news drifted out of the Southeastern Conference's basketball spring meetings that the football powerhouse conference had adopted a rule about how their teams were required to schedule non-conference opponents.

To put it simply, a potential opponent has to have a three year RPI average of better than 175 in order to be scheduled.

This is a clear continuation to the football powerhouse conference attempting to get more teams into the NCAA tournament than the three teams they got this past March. You can head over to our friends at Team Speed Kills to get more into the SEC viewpoint on this, but it popped up an idea in my head: Does Marquette schedule with the kind of intensity required to be a member of the SEC?

I'm not even coming close to trying to say that MU has any chance of ever joining that league, nor am I angling for that to happen. I like the Big East in its current configuration. I'm merely interested in finding out if Marquette is scheduling that tough.

Based on the conversations that we had last summer, and then again during the season, I think you're well aware that was not the case this past season. Let's take a look, but with a slight twist. I think the RPI is a garbage system that's easily manipulated, so instead, we'll look at the three year KenPom average heading into last season for each of Marquette's non-conference opponents in 2015-16.  For added entertainment value, we'll highlight the teams that Marquette had no choice about playing.  For this year, that includes the Legends Classic and the Gavitt Games.

Team 3 Year KenPom Average
Belmont 92.3
IUPUI 315.7
Iowa 24.0
LSU 67.3
Arizona State 58.7
Jackson State 312.3
Grambling State 349.3
Maine 321.7
San Jose State 322.0
Wisconsin 7.3
Chicago State 302.0
Presbyterian 336.3
Stetson 299.0

Yeah, I think we all saw that one coming.  Ok, let's ignore that garbage schedule. What about the year before that?

Team 3 Year KenPom Average
Tennessee-Martin 326.7
Ohio State 9.7
Nebraska-Omaha 277.3
NJIT 291.3
Georgia Tech 129.3
Michigan State 7.0
Tennessee 46.7
Wisconsin 8.7
Arizona State 114.7
Alabama A&M 326.3
North Dakota 251.3
Morgan State 227.7

That didn't get better. I mean, it did, technically, since there are fewer averages in the 300s, and yes, there's six teams better than 175 instead of five, but you get what I mean. You wanna do one more, just for kicks? Let's see how things looked back in the final year of Buzz Williams' tenure.

Team 3 Year KenPom Average
Southern 276.7
Grambling State 340.3
Ohio State 9.7
New Hampshire 289.7
Arizona State 145.3
Cal State Fullerton 213.0
George Washington 147.7
San Diego State 35.7
Wisconsin 9.3
IUPUI 284.0
Ball State 206.3
New Mexico 27.3
Samford 293.0

WELP, went back down to five.

This seems bad, doesn't it? Generally speaking, it seems that the SEC is going to suddenly start playing teams that are better than the teams that Marquette signs up on a regular basis.  In theory, that's going to lead to giant RPI boosts for teams like Kentucky, Florida, and Texas A&M.

There's a flipside to this, though.  I know the SEC is talking about a three year average, but I don't have the time or the interest to figure out EVERYONE'S average, so here's teams 171 through 175 in the final KenPom rankings for last season: Lehigh, Oral Roberts, Texas Southern, Furman, and Wyoming.  SEC teams are BANNED from playing anyone worse than that. Harvard? Nope. DePaul? Not happening. UCF? No way. Even worse than that, Auburn and Missouri both finished sub-175 on the KenPom rankings last year. These two teams are going to have to play a non-conference schedule that consists entirely of teams that are, generally speaking, better than they are. Is it really gaming the RPI when you might be forcing teams to sign up for a giant pile of losses, and worse than that, home losses?  What happens to the league's RPI when the bottom end of the league is getting destroyed both on the court and and in the RPI?

I think Marquette's scheduling is just fine relative to what the SEC is trying to do to improve themselves.