Scrutinizing traditional soft schedulers

Updated: June 28, 2011, 6:32 AM ET
By Joe Lunardi

Last week, Joe examined four teams over the past four years that needed stronger nonconference schedules to make the NCAA tournament. This week, he looks at teams that have traditionally scheduled soft nonconference games, placing their NCAA tournament bids in jeopardy before the season has even started.

When it comes to evaluating nonconference schedules, it's important to acknowledge one thing right off the bat: Schools can never really be sure how their nonleague opponents will fare in a given season. Potential bubble teams can schedule so-called "up" games in tournaments, home-and-home series, one-way road trips, etc., and said opponents can underachieve for any number of reasons.

Easier to spot are the schools that consistently schedule badly (or at least weakly). When a team's nonconference SOS ranking is in the depths of Division I year after year, it's more than bad luck or underachieving opponents. It's an intentional attempt to pad the record, usually with a sorry collection of home games against "paid" opponents -- the going rate now into six figures in many cases -- that might win once or twice in 100 tries.

The BCS schools pretty much control this unsavory part of the college game, and we hereby present the "Bottom 10" of worst offenders over the most recent four-year scheduling cycle, and the teams whose schedules may harm their tournament chances the most come March 2012.