A second look at Big East schedules ...
A few weeks back, we compared the nonconference schedules of the Big East schools, using last year's records and Sagarin ratings to evaluate the difficulty of each team's five non-league opponents.
That model showed that USF's I-A opponents had the best win-loss record of any Big East team's opponents, and we rated only West Virginia as having a tougher slate. So after seeing Sports Illustrated's power rankings of all 119 I-A teams on Wednesday, I thought it a good opportunity to run the same deal with a new set of numeric values for the opponents.
If you add up the SI rankings for the four I-A opponents for each school -- I allowed Pitt to drop its lowest-ranked opponent, since they have five against I-A teams -- then you find that USF has the fifth-toughest nonconference schedule out of eight teams, unimpressively right in the middle of the pack.
West Virginia still has the toughest (202 total points), then Pitt (211), Rutgers (234), Syracuse (238), USF (263), Connecticut (275), Louisville (305) and Cincinnati (325). Why a lower rating for USF's opponents? The magazine doesn't think much of Central Florida, rating them 68th, and Florida International is appropriately 118th. Cincinnati's total is especially impressive considering they have the highest-rated opponent on the list in No. 6 Oklahoma; that's more than offset by No. 114 Akron and No. 115 Marshall.