Breaking down the schedule, Bryant faces a lot of familiar faces, with 13 of their 14 opponents being teams that they played last year. Against these repeat opponents, Bryant put together a strong 12-3 record in 2023. The introduction of Harvard to the schedule presents an opportunity for a solid win, with a 60.4% win probability favoring Bryant in this new matchup. Conversely, the absence of Air Force, a team that has historically challenged Bryant, could be seen as a relief, given the Bulldogs’ 0-2 record against them in the shot-clock era.
Analyzing the strength of schedule, Bryant’s overall lineup projects as the 59th toughest, a slight drop from last year’s 53rd. The non-conference slate remains almost unchanged in difficulty, ranking 45th compared to last year’s 44th. This signals an approach to bolster the team’s resilience in preparation for conference play while aiming to avoid overextending and potentially diminishing the team’s confidence and momentum.
The season’s most challenging stretch spans from April 6th to April 23rd, where Bryant faces off against Albany, Vermont, Binghamton, and Brown. The expectation line for this gauntlet of games is 2.3 wins. If they can get 3 victories in this stretch, that will be a very solid effort. In contrast, the period from March 6th to March 30th appears more forgiving, with anticipated matchups against Fairfield, UMBC, UMass-Lowell, and NJIT projecting a more comfortable 3.4 wins. This early stretch could serve as a platform for building team confidence and momentum.
The Bulldogs will also endure a grueling stretch from April 13th to April 27th, playing four games in 15 days, including high-stakes encounters with Vermont, Binghamton, Brown, and Merrimack. This period will be telling of the team’s depth and ability to maintain effectiveness with what could be some tired legs.
In summary, the Bryant schedule for 2024 presents a balanced challenge with the potential for a top-20 RPI if things break right for them. The slight shifts in scheduling from the previous year, including the addition of Harvard and the exclusion of Air Force, lessen the strength of the schedule, but open the opportunity for a better record. The toughest and easiest stretches of the season are clearly defined, with critical implications for the team’s success. Bryant’s strategic non-conference scheduling aims to prepare the Bulldogs for the rigors of conference play while also securing enough wins to foster a winning mentality heading into the postseason.
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P.S. What did I miss? Data-centric analyses like this can miss things that don’t show up in the stats (i.e. injuries/coaching changes). If you can help explain any of the above, put it in the comments.