How Syracuse basketball built its schedule to get into NCAA Tournament |

Once again, a great deal of credit for a team’s post season bid goes to the person (or people) who help craft the schedule. In this case, as is the case with a great deal of men’s and women’s D1 basketball programs, that responsibility falls, at least in part, to the director of basketball operations. In this particular case, it’s Kip Wellman, Syracuse University’s Director of Operations for the Men’s Basketball team.

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse was the last team voted into the NCAA Tournament’s at-large party. Plenty of teams contended for that vital, coveted invitation. The resumes of all those teams were dotted with flaws, hence their inclusion on the bubble.

But Syracuse separated itself in one area that had once been its downfall: It concocted the proper balance of teams in the non-conference portion of its schedule.

“I think overall, our strength of schedule, something the committee has always talked about, (something) we’ve been criticized for in the past,” SU coach Jim Boeheim said, “but (of all) the bubble teams we had just about the strongest non-conference strength of schedule and obviously the conference is very difficult. So, I think that helped us.”

SU’s schedule is the domain of the Orange Director of Basketball Operations, Kip Wellman, who gets “a lot” of input from Boeheim. Wellman spoke two summers ago for a story on how SU’s schedule gets made. He talked about researching potential opponents to see which players they returned, how successful they expected to be during the season they might potentially play the Orange. He talked about how much Boeheim wants to play local teams (Cornell, Colgate, etc.), despite their recent struggles, despite their historic drag on SU’s non-conference schedule RPI. He talked about trying to schedule teams that had been traditional Big East rivals. He talked about getting into areas where Syracuse recruits.

He talked about putting all these disparate pieces together and hoping it equaled a winning combination of tough challenges and winnable games.

“We try to keep the same formula,” Wellman said today. “We knew we had a younger team coming into this year and you don’t want to put them at a disadvantage. It’s a new system, but you can’t really predict where the teams will finish. I really try to stick to the RPI and say, ‘this is a really tough game for us, but it would really pay off.'”

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