The NEC is supposed to be a dogfight at the top and through four conference games that’s exactly what’s happening. Central Connecticut State, Robert Morris, Wagner and Long Island Brooklyn are sitting atop the conference with the only losses amongst those four teams being to each other. (Wagner lost at LIU, RMU lost at CCSU). The tempo-free numbers tell a similar story, but a surprising team is on top.
Even though Central Connecticut and Long Island are the two undefeated teams, it’s Wagner that’s sitting on top of the tempo-free ratings through four conference games. The Seahawks lost to Blackbirds, but they’ve also put together convincing wins over St. Francis (NY), at Fairleigh Dickinson and at Monmouth. In fact, the 40-point win over the Terriers is still having a huge impact on the rankings. Here’s the full league standings according to efficiency margin in terms of points per possession:
- Wagner (3-1) +0.230
- Central Connecticut State (4-0) +0.215
- Robert Morris (3-1) +0.179
- Long Island (4-0) +0.079
- St. Francis (PA) (2-2) +0.046
- Quinnipiac (1-3) -0.025
- Sacred Heart (1-3) -0.032
- Mount St. Mary’s (1-3) -0.044
- St. Francis (NY) (3-1) -0.049
- Monmouth (1-3) -0.137
- Fairleigh Dickinson (0-4) -0.223
- Bryant (1-3) -0.269
Best Offense: Wagner at 1.133 points per possession
Best Defense: Central Connecticut State at 0.867 points per possession
Luckiest: St. Francis (NY) at 1.53 wins above expected
Unluckiest: Wagner at 0.73 wins below expected
It’s worth noting that LIU is the second luckiest team in the NEC according to this analysis at 1.18 wins above expected. Those two teams are the only teams that are more than a win off their expected record through the first four games of the conference season. It’s also worth noting that currently five teams are playing at faster than 70 possessions per game during league play. Wagner, Long Island, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and St. Francis (NY) are all playing at a pace in conference play that would put them in the top 42 in the nation if done over a full season.
All of the top teams have delivered thus far in conference play. The games between the top four in the conference will be must watch events during the regular season. Thursday doesn’t offer up any of those opportunities, but Saturday there’s a big one between the top two teams in the tempo-free standings – Wagner and CCSU – on Staten Island.