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clenz, I know you are a numbers guy, so I ran the probabilities of this UNI scheduling happening.
If we were to test the hypothesis that the conference is punishing UNI, we would say there is some evidence of this if the following probabilities were less than .05.
The probability of starting conference play on the road in 6 of 8 years is .109
The probability of starting conference play on the road in 8 of 10 years is .044
These next probabilities were found through simulation:
The probability of starting a majority of your conference games on the road (3 of 5, 2 of 4, and, 2 of 3) for eight consecutive years is estimated to be .095.
The probability of starting a majority of your conference games on the road (3 of 5, 2 of 4, and, 2 of 3) for ten consecutive years is estimated to be .064.
The probability of schedules similar to Northern Iowa schedule (majority road games through 3-5 games in at least seven of eight years, and a split after four games in at most one year) is estimated to be .062.
So I would say that is this trend continues through 2018, there is evidence that the conference doesn't want UNI playing conference games at home early in the season.
Road teams were 19-21 in conference play this year. That includes MSU going 0-8 in conference and one week were the bottom 5 hosted the top 5 and the top 5 all won.
Best I can tell from rough math going back about a decade road teams win about 40-43% of the time in MVFC play. If you start by playing a round average of 66-75% of your first half of you conference schedule on the road it creates a rough start to a season year after year.
It'd be one thing if it happened every so often, but that's a decade straight.
Who knows? We're (NDSU) are probably paying somebody off, kinda what we do. :D
I could see these results happening and being a coincidence if a computer algorithm was used to create the schedules. I would be even more convinced that a computer algorithm is used if there was a MVFC team that has the reverse of UNI, started the season at home instead of on the road. If a computer algorithm isn't used, we are only two more years away from getting statistically significant evidence.