Tempo-free NEC: The battle at the top

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:

  1. Wagner (3-1) +0.230
  2. Central Connecticut State (4-0) +0.215
  3. Robert Morris (3-1) +0.179
  4. Long Island (4-0) +0.079
  5. St. Francis (PA) (2-2) +0.046
  6. Quinnipiac (1-3) -0.025
  7. Sacred Heart (1-3) -0.032
  8. Mount St. Mary’s (1-3) -0.044
  9. St. Francis (NY) (3-1) -0.049
  10. Monmouth (1-3) -0.137
  11. Fairleigh Dickinson (0-4) -0.223
  12. Bryant (1-3) -0.269

Superlatives:

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.

2 Responses to Tempo-free NEC: The battle at the top

  1. NellyNel14 January 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    One thing I don’t get is how is Wagner the “unluckiest” team statistically? I would have thought they would have been up there in the “luckiest” team category. They have 3 losses (at UConn, at LIU, vs Lehigh). They have at least 2 what I would term as Unlikely-Wins (at Pitt, at Santa Clara). If they are .73 wins below expected, then your numbers say they should have beaten either LIU or more likely Lehigh (a 1 point loss at home) and should be currently 13-2. I just don’t buy it. This is nothing against Wagner. I think they have highly overachieved this season not underachieved.

    • jtemplon January 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      So the superlatives, like all the numbers above, are only for conference play, which is part of the answer. The other part of the answer is that the 40-point blowout over St. Francis (NY) at home is weighing heavily in the conference rankings still. (It’s 25% of their total work.)

      You’re right about the season overall. Wagner is ranked 136th in the Luck metric by Ken Pomeroy right now. For comparison though LIU is 20th, RMU 81st and CCSU 228th. So the Seahawks seem to be in the middle of the pack in terms of the full season.

      The close wins Wagner has over Pitt, Santa Clara, NCC and Penn are slightly offset by the loss to Lehigh and just a number of bigger wins over higher regarded opponents like Princeton, Hofstra and Air Force.

      Hope this all helps!