Friday, July 12, 2013

Preview: 2013-14 Calvin Knights Men’s Basketball Schedule

The Purpose of This Schedule Preview Post, Generally

The purpose of this schedule preview post is to view a list of scheduled games before they (i.e. the scheduled games) take place.

The Purpose of This Schedule Preview Post, Specifically

Specifially, the schedule that will be dissected (and it should be made clear that this took place with as little effort as possible on the part of the author) is the one belonging to the 2013-14 Calvin Knights Men’s Basketball team.

One might alternatively consider this post an attempt by the present author to alert the readership to the fact that he is indeed still alive.

Regarding the Schedule, What it Consists of

A full-list of the 25 games (plus one exhibition) can be found by following this internet link, but, generally speaking, the schedule can be thought of as:
  • One exhibition game
  • One pre-conference-season tournament
  • Two “classic” style weekend events with pre-scheduled opponents
  • Five singular non-conference games
  • Fourteen conference games against MIAA opponents
  • The possibility of participation in a four-team MIAA Tournament
  • The possibility of participation in the NCAA Tournament

Regarding the Actual Opponents, Who They Are

As has been the case more often than not in recent years, the list of opponents will be familiar to Calvin fans as 85%* of the schedule (including any and all exhibition games but not including any and all potential post-season games) is comprised of opponents who also appeared on last season’s schedule.

*Depending on how the Calvin Tip-Off Tournament plays out (e.g. if Calvin and Grace Bible both win their first game), this number could jump to 88%.

Opponents that would roundly be considered “new” to the schedule include Kuyper College, NCCAA-2), University of Redlands, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. It’s also possible (but seemingly unlikely) for Calvin to meet up with College of Faith – who lost to Hope by 98 points on a neutral court last November – in the Tip-Off Tournament.

Kuyper, typically the doormat of the Grand Rapids Small College Basketball scene, had what the author will call (without having the requisite knowledge) their best season ever. They finished with a 1-2 record in a seeminly evenly played season series with Grace Bible with the win coming in NCCAA-2 tournament play. In the three head-to-head games combined (two of which took place at Grace), Kuyper was outscored in regulation by five points. After adjusting for home court advantage, considering only these three games, and performing a back-of-the-napkin calculation, one might guess that Grace would win something like 53% of hypothetical matchups between these two schools. This is all to say that Kuyper matched up well with a team that Calvin beat by 31 points last year.

The author could not, while employing only a minimal amount of effort, get the Massey system to simulate a matchup between last year's Calvin and Kuyper teams, but he's pretending it's because the servers which control the website in question simply couldn't count high enough to display an appropriate margin of victory in favor of Calvin.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the combined athletic program of Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College, finished as the runner up in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with an 18-8 (13-3) record. Their final Massey Division III Rank of 100 put them roughly 30 spots below Adrian and 30 spots above Trine, which is to say they would have competed favorably in the MIAA. The Wilson rankings more or less agree with this assessment.

The Massey system estimates that a similarly scheduled meeting between last year’s teams would finish in Calvin’s favor 90% of the time, with a 14 point margin being the most likely result.

Redlands, who apparently operates under the philosophy that institutions of higher learning should each have their own athletics departments, finished the 2012-13 season as the SCIAC champion with 22-6 (15-1) record. The lone SCIAC representative in the NCAA Tournament went on to drop their opening round game to Whitworth by six points. Their final Massey Division III Rank of 47 indiates that they were quite a good team, though perhaps not quite as good as Hope, who checked in 17 spots ahead of them. The Wilson rankings doesn’t quite agree, but still lists Redlands (39) and Hope (45) very similarly.

The Massey system estimates that a similarly scheduled meeting between last year’s teams would finish in Calvin’s favor 82% of the time, with a 10 point margin being the most likely result.

Calvin will host the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Classic with Cornerstone, Aquinas, and Hope on their normally scheduled rotation, but, due to an aparent conflict, they’ll also be hosting the MIAA-CCIW Classic with Carthage and Wheaton in what would “normally” be Hope’s year to host.

Also on the schedule is a return trip to Anderson for the third installment of what appears to now be a yearly rivalry, a home game with Manchester, and a home game with Finlandia in a continuing series that is hopefully dropped at Calvin’s earliest convenience.

Regarding the Actual Opponents, Who They Are Not, Most Notably

A notable fact about Calvin’s scheduled 2013-14 opponents is that they are not – at least not with the desired frequency – officially recognized Division III in-region opponents. Only 17 of the 25 scheduled regular season games (68%) can be classified as in-region: the 14 MIAA conference games, Anderson, Manchester, and Finlandia.

The Significance of Opponent Regionality

In this case regionality isn’t considered in a pure geographice sense, but rather in a pre-defined and, in the present author’s opinion, ill-conceived NCAA sense.  At any rate, regionality is significant because the NCAA has announced that teams must play 70% (up from 50%) of their games against in-region Division III competition in order to be eligible for at-large consideration for the NCAA Tournament. Under this new system the NCAA will be counting all results versus Division III opponents in the primary criterea, instead of results only versus in-region competition.

The astute reader will recognize that Calvin’s scheduled percentage of in-region games (68%) does not meet the reported threshold. Specific details aren’t exactly known, but it is entirely likely that conference tournament games will count toward this total and that Calvin would be meet the criterion if there were able to reach the MIAA Finals.

One might ultimately consider it a “bummer” if Calvin were to have a terrific, nigh unblemished regular season, suffer an upset loss in the MIAA Semifinals, and finish with a schedule containing only 69% regional games. A large part of the bummer would be their potential disqualification from Pool C consideration, but another, non-insignificant part of the bummer would be that the schedule, as constructed, follows the spirit of the law, if not the letter.

The Author’s Prediction Re: Calvin’s Performance Against the Schedule in Question

Conceding that the author knows very little about both (1) the construction of Calvin College’s 2013-14 men’s basketball roster and (2) the roster construction and relative quality of the various opponents he feels compelled by the conventions of sports media to offer up some manner of final record prediction.

The prediction is as follows: 20-5 (11-3).

It should be noted that the style of this post was directly stolen from actual-writer Carson Cistulli and that the present author deserves zero credit for anything you, the reader, enjoyed and all the blame for anything you did not.

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