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Wednesday, 01 January 2014 17:51

Strength of Schedule Analysis: UGA Strongest in 2014

Lindsay Cheek and UGA Tackle a Tough Schedule Lindsay Cheek and UGA Tackle a Tough Schedule (c) 2013 Lloyd Smith, Used by Permission

Georgia has the strongest schedule when compared to the Top 12 teams in 2014, according to the annual analysis from CollegeGymFans.com.   Each year, we've calculated the relative strength of the schedule (relative schedule difficulty) for the Top 12 Teams, as determined by the Preseason Coaches' Poll.  Read on to find out how the rest of the teams fared. 

As we did in prior years, we calculated the schedule difficulty index (strength of schedule) by awarding 12 points for scheduling the number one team in the Preseason Coaches' poll, 11 points for scheduling number two, and so on, continuing down to one point for number 12.  No points are awarded for scheduling teams ranked below 12.  In Table 1, we've only included those teams that are currently ranked in the Top 12. 

 

Table 1:  Relative Schedule Difficulty for the Top 12 Ranked Teams

Difficulty Rank

Team

Poll Rank

Schedule Difficulty Index
(SDI)

1

UGA

8

87

2

Arkansas

11

85

3

LSU

5

80

4

Bama

2

77

5

Florida

1

71

6

OU

3

52

7

Stanford

9

50

8

UCLA

4

49

9 Utah

6

48

10(tie)

Michigan

7

43

10(tie)

Oregon State

12

43

As you might expect, the SEC squads dominate the rankings.  Because there are five members of the SEC in the Top 12, and each compete against each other twice during the season (at the very least).  Thus, it follows that the SEC squads rise to the top of the rankings using this methodology.  In fact, the lower ranked teams in the the SEC benefit from gaining all of the high value points from competing twice against the top teams in the conference.  However, the top teams in these rankings also tend to schedule tough out-of-conference opponents. 

Our ranking methodology is admittedly biased to teams that hold strong conference affiliations and schedule meets with more than one opponent.  The conference affiliation is a double edge sword -- although it means the teams will meet in the conference meet, it also means annual obligations to meet other lower ranked conference opponents on a regular basis. 

Unlike some sports like football, where competing against a physically stronger team can increase the likelihood of injuries, there are few reasons for a gymnastics team to not want to develop the strongest schedule available.  Attendance, in general, is related to strength of schedule, and the national rankings are not based on won-loss records.  But as it relates to scores, the results can be mixed.  The extra pressure on the athletes combined with a potentially higher level of scrutiny may produce lower scores.  We've noticed (on an anecdotal basis) that high caliber meets,(in addition to those close to large population centers serviced by major airports,  tend to draw a higher percentage of more experienced Brevet and National rated judges.  But all in all, the pros outweigh the cons.  Competing in front of large, vocal crowds or in large multi-round conference meets with a high caliber of judging helps prepare those teams for the National Championship and Regional meets.

The ranking in Table 1 just focused on the relative position of the Top 12 teams.  What happens when we extend the analysis to the Top 25 teams?  Well the SEC again just dominates, taking the first seven spots.  And, the lower ranking teams in the SEC (and Pac 12) filter into the Top 10.  In fact, Kentucky rises to the very top of the rankings. 

 Table 2:  Strength of Schedule for the Top 25 Teams

Difficulty Rank

Team

Poll Rank

Schedule Difficulty Index
(SDI)

1

Kentucky

21

100

2(tie)

Auburn

13

87

2(tie)

Georgia

8

87

4

Arkansas

11

85

5

LSU

5

80

6

Bama

2

77

7

Florida

1

71

8

Arizona

17

70

9

OU

3

52

10

ASU

25

51

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