There’s a very clear cut No. 1 team in the MAAC this season. Iona has taken all comers and delivered convincing win after convincing win. It’s good enough that the Gaels are currently projected as a 12 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology (playing Vanderbilt!). The big question now is if any team is going to challenge the Gaels. We’ll find out this week as more of the top teams have games against each other starting on Thursday with Iona vs. Manhattan and Fairfield vs. Loyola (Md.). Let’s look at what the per possessions stats tell us about those four teams.
Tempo-free MAAC standings:
- Iona (5-0) +0.343
- Manhattan (3-2) +0.096
- Loyola (Md.) (4-1) +0.095
- Fairfield (3-2) +0.048
- Rider (3-2) +0.006
- Marist (2-3) -0.070
- Siena (2-3) -0.079
- St. Peter’s (2-3) -0.102
- Niagara (1-4) -0.174
- Canisius (0-5) -0.175
As you can see, through five games there’s not a lot of separation in a couple places in the standings. Second place and tenth place are essentially ties at the moment. Look at Rider rising up the ranks. The Broncs are on a three-game conference winning streak, have won five of their last six, and have to be considered a contender once again in the conference. Even though Sydney Johnson’s Fairfield team is in fourth in the standings, it’s a pretty distant fourth. The Stags have struggled on offense their past two games, both losses at slower tempos. Speaking of struggling on offense, Canisius is in last place because they Golden Griffins just can’t score. They haven’t scored over a point per possession yet in conference play, topping out at 0.939 points per possession in their latest loss to Loyola (Md.).
Best Offense: Iona at 1.24 points per possession (wow!)
Best Defense: Manhattan at 0.892 points per possession (Iona is second)
Worst Offense: Canisius at 0.883 points per possession
Worst Defense: Niagara at 1.13 points per possession
Luckiest: St. Peter’s at 0.90 wins above expected
Unluckiest: Manhattan at 0.82 wins below expected (thank Loyola’s last second three for that!)
Who do you think the numbers are overrating? Will Rider or Fairfield rise up to challenge Iona? Is Manhattan for real? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @nybuckets.