Friday, October 8, 2010

Summit League Red Line Upset Possibilities In 2010-11

At the mid-major level of college basketball, there are many factors that go into constructing a non-conference schedule. The topic itself is far too detailed for a single post here, so let's just look at a specific area: those games against major conference schools. These major programs need games, primarily those which can be played at home, and the simplest way to achieve this is by "paying" mid-majors to visit them. Such matches are often called guarantee games because the big school pays the little school for what amounts to a guaranteed win. Some mid-major programs attempt to avoid these games for various reasons, while others flock to the opportunity so they can collect a big payday to help support any number of expenses incurred throughout the season. After all, the loss probably wouldn't amount to much for the little school because most schools at this level rely solely on the conference games to get into the post-season.

On the other hand, if David plays Goliath and wins, the loss is considered a big deal for Goliath. When this happens - using the parlance of mid-majordom's wisest voice - we call it a Red Line Upset. In the 2009-10 season, such upsets occurred in 157 of 909 games played for a resulting Red Line percentage of 17.3%. For those wondering, the Red Line is based on money, separating those conferences with large coffers from those often working with the bare bones. It includes the typical power-six leagues as well as the Mountain West (and up until 10-11, Conference USA). The Summit League hasn't done much in the way of contributing to a higher Red Line win percentage in recent years, though Oral Roberts did have a number of upsets during the 2009-10 season. Oakland has been shutout by schools above the Red Line in the last year, with its last win coming against Oregon in the beginning of the 2008-09 season.

With the dawn of a new season, there exists a number of opportunities for teams from The Summit League to increase their role in upping the upset percentages. For those interested in following along, we've put together this list which presents all of the games where teams from this league will face those above the Red Line:

November 12
Centenary @ Memphis
North Dakota State @ Oregon
Oakland @ West Virginia

November 14
South Dakota State @ Iowa

November 18
Western Illinois @ Missouri

November 20
IPFW @ Cincinnati
Western Illinois @ Wyoming

November 21
IUPUI vs. San Diego State (neutral court)
Oakland @ Purdue

November 24
Centenary @ LSU
North Dakota State @ Minnesota

November 27
Oral Roberts @ Utah

November 30
Oral Roberts @ Texas Tech

December 8
Oakland @ Illinois

December 9
IUPUI @ Ohio State

December 11
Oakland vs. Michigan State (neutral court)
Oral Roberts @ Oklahoma

December 14
Oakland @ Tennessee

December 16
Oral Roberts @ Missouri

December 18
Centenary @ Marquette
Oakland @ Michigan
Southern Utah @ UNLV

December 20
Centenary @ Wyoming

December 21
IPFW @ Purdue
Oral Roberts vs. Miami (neutral court)

December 23
UMKC @ Kansas State
Oakland @ Ohio State
South Dakota State @ Minnesota

January 5
UMKC @ Kansas

Total Opportunities (29): Centenary (4), IPFW (2), IUPUI (2), UMKC (2), NDSU (2), Oakland (7), Oral Roberts (5), SDSU (2), SUU (1), WIU (2)

In total, The Summit League will have 29 chances to pull a Red Line upset. Out of this total, 26 will be played on the road where winning will be incredibly difficult. Oral Roberts and IUPUI each have games against a team above the Red Line at multiple-team events on neutral courts. Oakland gets Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills, which counts as a home game for the Golden Grizzlies despite the fact that MSU alumni and fans will far outnumber those of OU.

After UMKC's game with Kansas on January 5, we will revisit this list to see how the conference fared against teams above the Red Line. In the meantime, how many of these games do you see The Summit League winning? Which game intrigues you most as a potential Red Line upset?


  1. I like IUPUI to upset SDSU, Oakland to beat Mich and SDSU to beat Iowa.

  2. Not sure about some of the others, but like Oakland's best chances to be Michigan, then WVU if any.