With only one regular season game remaining, a majority of the playoff bound NEC squads continue to fight for seeding, and in some cases, the ability to host a first round playoff game. Getting into the coveted top four of the regular season standings affords a team the opportunity to host a first round playoff game. It’s one of the goals these coaches set at the beginning of the season.
For the 2013-14 season in particular, only 54.7% (41-34) of the NEC conference games have been won by the hosting school. That’s the lowest percentage since 2007-08 season, when less than half (45.4%) of the games were won by the host. This begs the question: does playoff seeding and home-court advantage really matter come March and NEC tournament time?
The answer is a resounding yes. Since the 2004-05 campaign, when the NEC changed its postseason format to award the higher seeded team with a playoff home game, the hosting team has won 73.0% (46-17) of the time. Compare that to an overall home winning percentage (last ten years, regular season included) of 57.9% (520-378) and it’s evident that the higher seeded teams love home cooking in the playoffs. Of course, the better teams are also getting these home games, so this might be somewhat expected.
If you dig a little deeper, the prognosis for the lower seeded teams are grim, although it’s a small sample size of nine tournaments. Here’s how the winning percentage for each seed shakes out:
- #1 Seed: 19-5 (4 championships)
- #2 Seed: 15-7 (2 championships)
- #3 Seed: 15-7 (2 championships)
- #4 Seed: 6-8 (1 championship)
- #5 Seed: 6-9
- #6 Seed: 2-9
- #7 Seed: 0-9
- #8 Seed: 0-9
Yes, you read that correctly – since the 2004-05 season, the bottom three seeds of the NEC tournament have a combined postseason record of 2-27 with the #7 and #8 seed never making it out of the first round. For the past eight seasons, in fact, the bottom three seeds are 0-24. So while CCSU fans are clearly excited for winning their “play-in” game versus LIU Brooklyn last night, does it really matter when the Blue Devils must travel to Robert Morris or Wagner? Andy Toole and Mike Rice are a perfect 6-0 in the first round of the NEC tournament.
Some other quick stats from the research:
- Six of the nine #1 seeds have made it to the finals of the NEC tournament. The last two teams to miss? The 2007-08 and 2012-13 Robert Morris Colonials.
- With the exception of Mount St. Mary’s in the 2007-08 season, a #4 seed hasn’t made it to the finals in the other eight NEC tournaments. The Mount won the championship that season when they upset #1 seeded Robert Morris in the semifinals and #3 seeded Sacred Heart in the finals (sigh).
- Not once has a team gone on to win the NEC tournament by winning on the road three consecutive games.
- Quinnipiac may be better off in the MAAC than the NEC! In Tom Moore’s final four seasons in the NEC, the Bobcats lost to the eventual champ (Robert Morris and LIU Brooklyn each twice) in the postseason tournament.
With just three teams vying for the coveted #3 and #4 seeds, Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s each control their own destiny. Win their final game and they get to host. Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Francis (PA) had an opportunity to remain in the race for a home playoff game, but both put forth an uninspiring effort on Thursday evening. Here are the NEC standings as we know it:
- Robert Morris, 14-1 (clinched #1 seed, home court throughout playoffs)
- Wagner, 11-4 (sealed the #2 seed guaranteeing at least two home playoff games)
- Bryant, 9-6 (a win or a Mount or SFNY loss and they have a home playoff game)
- Mount St. Mary’s, 8-7 (the easiest remaining schedule as they host Saint Francis, win and they’re hosting)
- St. Francis Brooklyn, 8-7 (they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker versus the Mount, so they need a win and a some help to grab a first round playoff game)
- Saint Francis (PA), 7-8 (locked in as the #6 seed, eliminated from #4 seed consideration based on their tiebreakers w/ the Mount and SFNY)
- Central Connecticut, 6-9 (owns tiebreaker over FDU based on their victory over RMU)
- Fairleigh Dickinson, 6-9 (needs a win and a CCSU loss for the #7 seed)
The most intriguing tiebreaker involves a potential three way tie between Bryant, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis. If all three finish with a final record of 9-7, then St. Francis Brooklyn gets the #3 seed, Mount St. Mary’s obtains the #4 seed and Bryant is the odd team out as the #5 seed.
Got most of that? Check out the NEC’s page for all of the tiebreaker scenarios! There are plenty of playoff scenarios in play for the final Saturday of the regular season. The playoffs are less than one week away! Until then, enjoy the final weekend.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride