As things currently stand, the chances of the Big South Conference ever getting multiple teams into the NCAA Basketball tournament is slim to none. Big South champions have become a staple in the "play-in" portion of the NCAA tournament and have headed to Dayton four years in a row. The conference as a whole has not broke the Top 25 conferences in the country since 2007 (according to KenPom.com).
There was a slight air of change last year when the conference expanded to twelve members and conference scheduling was restructured. One part of the new initiatives that excited some fans was the limiting of games against non-Division I opponents to just two a year. For the most part, these Non-DI games present nothing to gain and everything to gain for Big South teams. All in all, these games are simply schedule filler.
The Liberty Flames were the first team to release their schedule today and, to the surprise of many, three non-Division I games were on their schedule. The defending Big South champs will host Randolph College, Greensboro College, and something called Southeastern.
So what happened to the new "rule" of only scheduling two non-DI teams? This past June, after a week of meetings at the Homestead Resort in Virginia, the conference presented scheduling parameters around soccer to help increase RPI. At the same time the conference released the following statement surrounding basketball:
The Conference is now exploring new and creative ways to enhance its men’s and women’s basketball programs and will embark on a strategic planning process. In addition, Strategic Planning Subcommittees for each sport will be created to review related resources (i.e., budgets, facilities, academic support) as well as best practices among peer conferences that could be implemented in the Big South.
Wouldn't the improvement of scheduling and following an initiative that was presented last year follow the goals of the quote above? Perhaps the Big South enjoys the continual deception of fans, as they presented in the conference tournament this past year, or is Kyle Kallander content with mediocrity and an abysmal overall RPI for the conference?
SEC commissioner Mike Slive seems to understand the principle and the importance of non-conference scheduling:
"We're going to make sure we're playing the kind of schedules that will position us to put the number of teams in the (NCAA) tournament that we have traditionally over the years,"
And the SEC coaches seem to be buying in (Billy Donovan):
"One of the things that was very, very eye-opening to all the coaches was just how much every school's scheduling impacts the other team because you are going to play those teams," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I think just the whole education process, not only the RPI but the scheduling and how to go about scheduling and the importance of it, is really good."
The SEC's efforts have resulted in lost games for Big South members and with the lack of scheduling parameters being enforced or recommended there will be no end in site and the conference's members will continue to lose opportunities to not only beat a high profile opponent but to get guaranteed money.
For now it seems like leadership is content in wallowing in mediocrity.