Recently, I read a rant somewhere - either on a message board on on Twitter - that claimed that the Phoenix Mercury in 2014 has its record tainted by advantageous scheduling. The argument was that Phoenix's opponents were usually coming off back-to-back games whereas Phoenix had the benefit of at least one day of rest.
I decided to examine the claim more systematically. Optimally, teams facing each other should be equally rested but this isn't always possible. Sometimes, a team might have more than one day of rest than another team.
|Days Since Last Game?||W||L|
Teams playing the first game of the season are given "zero" days of rest.
Looking at the chart of wins and losses by Days rest, it seems that teams with one day rest are really disadvantaged. But let's assume that any team having x + 1 days of rest has an advantage over a team with just x days of rest. Looking at the 2014 schedule, we'll calculate a "rest days score" for each game in the schedule.
If, say, Atlanta and Connecticut play a game with Atlanta having two days since their last game and Connecticut has one day since their last game (i. e. playing a back-to-back), Atlanta gets a +1 in the day of rest column. The team coming off the most days of rest gets a positive number value; the team with the fewest always gets zero. If both teams have had the same number of days since their last game, then both get zero.
Using this tally, which teams had had more rest days against opposing teams than other teams?
The argument that Phoenix has had some advantageous scheduling has its point. Phoenix leads all team in values with +28. One could argue that the league wants a Phoenix-Indiana match up as Indiana has a +23. But before one claims that certain teams with star power are being given a scheduling lift, Minnesota finished 11th among all teams in the league with +12.
And Washington with its +11, getting the shortest end of WNBA scheduling? None dare call it conspiracy!