NEW YORK – I caught up with Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin outside the Bearcats locker room, to ask him how he planned to change his approach to scheduling now that the “old” Big East is no more, and Cincinnati, like UConn, may have to make up schedule-strength outside conference play.
“We’ve already dissected the RPI,” Cronin said. “And if you add up the RPI of the current Big East, this league, against another mock of the league we’re in next year, the RPI’s are very similar. Not quite as good … but not that far off.
“… So I am probably going to schedule one more [power conference] nonleague game. We will have to be more conscious of the nonleague schedule. I remember starting out with coach [Bob] Huggins in Conference USA, you’ve got to be strategic, got to analyze it because it’s all about quality wins. I think the way committees look at it, you have a choice in who you play nonleague. If you play in a league that’s not dominant, it’s harder. Memphis is a good example. People have them as an 8-9 [tournament seed] right now, and they went undefeated [16-0] in that league. Our RPI will be better than Conference USA, you won’ have to have Murder’s Row next year, we’ll still have Louisville, the question will be two years from now.”
As to the loss of Madison Square Garden as an annual league tournament stage, Cincinnati, like UConn, will have concerns about staying visible in New York.
“I’ve already worked hard to get us in an event at the Garden next year,” Cronin said, “and we will want to do that every year. We’re very conscious of that, and it’s important to recruiting on the East Coast.”
UConn, of coursem is also putting together a stronger nonconference schedule and will play in Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic in November.