2011-2012 Big East Nonconference Schedules: Not Leaving Town Isn't Just a Syracuse Thing

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With Syracuse's dance contest that masquerades as a basketball practice going down on Friday, we've officially reached my favorite part of the calendar year: Watching knuckleheads point at Syracuse and incessantly complain that Boeheim, once again, failed to schedule the Celtics in Boston in a game that would only allow the Orange to play four guys on the court at one time with no player over six feet tall and all must be over 65 years of age. 

It's such a pointless discussion.  And yet, here we are again, with Andy Katz preparing thousands of words about "true road games" and Doug Gottlieb warming up his vocal chords so that they are in prime condition for expelling verbal diarrhea.

These are exciting days, indeed.

To see just how much other Big East teams compare to Syracuse's nonconference scheduling, I sat down at my computing machine last week and plotted out the out-of-conference contests for all of the league's 16 teams.  You can find the map right here:

CLICK THIS LINK TO LOOK AT A MAP, MAGELLAN 

Before we cut a little deeper into the map, a few notes:

  • The distance traveled annotations are, at best, estimates.  They are, however, close enough for funk.
  • For reasons noted below, some "road" games aren't exactly noted as such and some "home" games aren't exactly noted as such. For example, Villanova goes to St. Joseph's this year, but that game is treated as lumped in with the Wildcats' "home" Philadelphia schedule.  Also, South Florida plays a "home" game at one of its satellite campuses this year.  If you're picking nits, then this is a huge problem. If you're a reasonable person that isn't a jerkface, then this isn't a huge problem.
  • If anyone complains that a logo isn't directly over a particular arena, that person will be fed gasoline and forcibly placed into a fire-breather training camp.

More nonsense after the jump.

I'm going to limit this essay to two claims often leveled against Syracuse (it's up to you whether those charges are fair):

  1. SYRACUSE NEVER LEAVES NEW YORK STATE!
  2. SYRACUSE NEVER PLAYS TRUE ROAD GAMES!

I'm also going to woefully truncate all of these discussions because, well, everyone is going to ignore them anyway and just write defamatory screeds about Doug Gottlieb in the comment section.

SYRACUSE NEVER LEAVES NEW YORK STATE

The implication here is that Syracuse doesn't really travel all that much. Well, there are a bunch of different teams that do the same nonsense.  Here's the ranking of round trip miles (with notes, where appropriate):

TRAVELING
RANK TEAM MILES NOTE
1. Georgetown 11,154 a.
2. West Virginia 8,532
3. South Florida 8,466
4. Marquette 8,266 b.
5. Providence 6,488
6. Notre Dame 6,446
7. Rutgers 5,714
8. Villanova 5,614 c.
9. Connecticut 4,084
10. St. John's 3,694
11. Seton Hall 3,498
12. DePaul 2,440 e.
13. Pittsburgh 2,340 e.
14. Syracuse 1,792
15. Cincinnati 1,078 e.
16. Louisville 386 d.

Notes:

a. Georgetown is playing out in the Maui Invitational.  That's about 9,550 miles, round trip.  Other than that, the Hoyas play at home and take a trip to Alabama.  Remember: we're not talk about who a team plays, only that a team has to make flight arrangements to play a basketball game.  Maui will present challenges for Georgetown, but nobody cares who Syracuse plays in the Garden, only that Syracuse plays there.

b. The trip to the Paradise Jam is worth 4,344 miles. If you pull out that trip, Marquette is still traveling about the league's median.  It's kind of weird to travel a somewhat veteran team that much.  There's no need to barnstorm to try and get on television when you're already going to be making headlines.

c. Probably the most deceptive travel itinerary in the league this season.  The cross-country trip to Anaheim for a "meh" 76 Classic gives Villanova 5,426 travel miles.  Other than that, the Wildcats are playing in Philadelphia and one game in the Garden.  I can't wait until Dana O'Neil writes a dissertation on what suits Jay Wright should pack in his luggage.

d. Louisville will play in three buildings: Yum! Center (its home court), Rupp Arena, and Hinkle Fieldhouse.  There is hardly any travel here.  But, for the same reason that I don't bag Boeheim, the competition is solid -- going to Kentucky is stupid tough; Butler, while rebuilding, is going to be a tough trip in that barn; and the home schedule isn't exactly full of tomato cans.  The schedule, though, is Boeheimian to the core and if apples are apples, Gottlieb should wag his finger at Pitino in equal capacity.

e.  These are the three biggest offenders, I think:

  • Pittsburgh: Outside of a trip to Knoxville, Pittsburgh will play in Allegheny County, Madison Square Garden, and Penn in Philadelphia.  Dixon is patterning his scheduling model after Boeheim and pulled the same stuff last year.  Plus, Pittsburgh's home slate is a hot trash fire.  This may be the worst nonconference schedule in the league.
  • DePaul: Oliver Purnell is all about fighting Glass Joe's to pull together a totally bogus record.  DePaul will make one trip that is greater than 64 miles from Chicago -- to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.  Other than that, DePaul is playing in Chicago and DeKalb (which I am told is a city of some sort).
  • Cincinnati: This schedule somehow outdid Boeheim's and should win the "OH MY GOD THIS IS TOTALLY UNFAIR IN SOMETHING THAT SHOULDN'T CONSIDER FAIRNESS" category. Cincinnati goes to Georgia (big whoop), and plays 49 miles away in Dayton against Wright State (meh).  Otherwise, they're playing in Cincinnati.  Sure, that includes a game at Xavier, but that isn't the issue here; the issue is leaving town and Cincinnati isn't doing it. 

SYRACUSE NEVER PLAYS TRUE ROAD GAMES

I'm not sure what this really means, but I think it has two pieces:

  • The game must be at another team's "home" facility; or
  • It shouldn't be neutral or have the appearance of potentially being neutral; or
  • The game should be kind of far from campus, I guess.

Well, I guess Syracuse only has one of those games this year: North Carolina State.  Here's all the other Big East teams that will only play one "true" road game this year:

  • Pittsburgh: at Tennessee.
  • Connecticut: at Tennessee.
  • Georgetown: at Alabama.
  • Villanova: No true road games. (The Wildcats only play in the City of Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden, and the exempt tournament in Anaheim.)
  • Cincinnati: No true road games. (Dayton only being 49 miles from Cincinnati has to be a home game, right Andy?  Playing Xavier in the Cintas Center also invokes the Syracuse-in-Kansas City and Syracuse-in-Tampa rules, right Andy?)
  • Rutgers: at Miami.
  • DePaul: at Northern Illinois

There's a reason that Boeheim schedules the way he does and it appears that everyone else is finally catching up to the curve.

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