Ever since he was a student at Miami of Ohio in the mid-'50s, Gordon Wise, now a marketing professor at Wright State in Dayton, has been fascinated with the question of how to objectively assess a college basketball schedule. Over the years, Wise's obsession has evolved into complex statistical science. He begins with a season-long composite of the weekly poll rankings, which allows him to develop power ratings for each conference; these in turn are used to assess the individual teams based on their conference finish. Each team's schedule is then examined and points are awarded based on the difficulty of opponents and the number of away games. All this allows Wise to develop a ranking for every Division I team.
The lists below include Wise's rankings of the 10 toughest schedules for last season, based on all games played. As a point of comparison, we have included the NCAA's schedule rankings, which are based only on non-conference games through March 9 (these rankings are made for use by the tournament selection committee). Since teams have no choice regarding their conference schedules, the NCAA's rankings show just who actually elects to play the tough teams. The third column lists Wise's top 10 for the past five seasons. And in case you're wondering, the weakest schedule in the Wise ratings over the past five seasons belongs to Samford, and the weakest schedule last season was the one played by Brown.