Patriot League Tempo-Free, Simulations, and an All-Conference Rant

The Patriot League tournament has been paired down to eight teams (sorry Loyola and Navy) and the action continues this evening. To help make sense of the madness, John was kind enough to run 10,000 simulations for this tournament to determine who has the best chance at earning the NCAA’s automatic bid. But first, a look at the final efficiency standings for the Patriot League regular season.

Efficiency Margin Standings:

  1. American (13-5): +0.11 points per possession
  2. Boston University (15-3): +0.09
  3. Holy Cross (12-6): +0.06
  4. Bucknell (11-7): +0.05
  5. Army (10-8): +0.02
  6. Colgate (7-12): +0.01
  7. Lafayette (7-12): -0.04
  8. Lehigh (7-11): -0.05
  9. Loyola (6-13): -0.10
  10. Navy (4-15): -0.13

American edged the first place Terriers, because their 30-point wallop over Boston University distorts the efficiency ratings somewhat. The eight best teams, in terms of efficiency margin, remain alive in the Patriot League tournament, with six of the eight in the positive. In other words, it’s a deep field.

Superlatives:

  • Best Offense: Lafayette at 1.08 points scored per possession (narrowly edging American)
  • Worst Offense: Navy at 0.93 points scored per possession
  • Best Defense: American at 0.97 points allowed per possession
  • Worst Defense: Lafayette at 1.12 points allowed per possession
  • Fastest: Army at 67.6 possessions per game
  • Slowest: Holy Cross at 61.0 possessions per game (narrowly edging American)
  • Luckiest: Boston University at 1.7 wins above expected
  • Unluckiest: Colgate at 3.0 wins below expected

10,000 Simulations:

Teams Finalist Wins
Boston University 5871 4040
American 5502 2794
Holy Cross 3294 1517
Bucknell 3005 1142
Colgate 754 199
Lafayette 513 118
Army 611 113
Lehigh 450 77

Of course, home court looms large as you would expect for a league where the postseason format involves rewarding the home game to the better seed. As a result, seeds five through eight were heading to the Big Dance in only 5.1% of the simulations. Of that group, Colgate has the best odds despite its 6-12 regular season record. The numbers clearly believe the Red Raiders have been rather unlucky; based on their efficiency ratings, Colgate was projected to be 9-10 at this point of the season and that includes their “play-in” victory over Navy on Monday night. The #8 seeded Lafayette Leopards made the finals about 5.1% of the time, which when you think about it, is a pretty high percentage for a team that began its conference season with a 0-9 record. Seth Henrichs’ return has something to do with that projection. Since returning from injury, the Leopards are 7-4 with victories over American and Holy Cross. Still, having to defeat two of the top three seeds on the road just to make the Patriot League tournament finals is a TALL task.

Boston University made the championship game in 58.7% of the simulations, while winning the title outright 40.4% of the time. They’re the tournament favorites all right, yet American (27.9%) and Holy Cross (15.2%) were given reasonable chances to emerge as the final team standing. And you’d be foolish to count out Dave Paulsen’s Bison, especially since they enter the tournament on a six-game winning streak, which includes two road victories over Boston University and American. Right now, it’s the longest active winning streak in the league.

An All-Conference Snub:

On Monday morning, the Patriot League announced their awards and all-conference teams. Nothing was terribly stunning, with the exception of one omission. To explain, let me begin with some simple player comparisons.

Player A: 10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.6 apg, 51.7% EFG%, 110.2 ORtg, 11.5% turnover rate
Player B: 11.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 53.1% EFG%, 106.3 ORtg, 16.4% turnover rate
Player C: 13.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 68.1% EFG%, 125.4 ORtg, 19.3% turnover rate

Of the three players listed, Player C has the best offensive profile by far, correct? For a point guard to average more than 13 ppg while sporting an incredible effective field goal percentage of 68.1% – third in the entire nation, I might add – is a terrific accomplishment. So why did Players A and B make the Patriot League’s all-conference third team at the expense of Player C? My guess, actually my only logical guess, has to do with their team’s performance.

The reality is Player C, otherwise known as Colgate’s Austin Tillotson, was completely robbed. Not mentioned above, the sophomore point guard had the fourth best efficiency rating in the entire conference, losing out only to Dylon Cormier, Troy Wroblicky and Maurice Watson, Jr., all of whom are first team locks when healthy. And yet, Tillotson was likely the victim of his team’s poor luck, the same luck that saw the Red Raiders lose nine out of 12 games decided by single digits. The coaches instead chose to anoint Player A (Chris Hass) and Player B (John Schoof) onto the all-conference third team, because their teams had more success than Colgate. At least that’s my educated guess.

This glaring oversight reminds me of a Northeast Conference snub last season, when Fairleigh Dickinson power forward Kinu Rochford was inexplicably left off any all-conference team list. This was despite the 6’6″ post presence finishing in the top 10 of the league in scoring (14.7 ppg, 9th), rebounding (9.0 rpg, 1st), field goal percentage (59.2%, 1st) and blocks (1.3, 2nd). The NEC coaches didn’t care about the wonderful numbers and ridiculous value Rochford offered – they simply cared about the Knights’ 2-16 conference record and Rochford allegedly quitting at halftime of FDU’s late season showdown at Robert Morris.

Tillotson is devoid of these off-the-court issues, however, so clearly the coaches were reluctant to award a deserving honor to a sophomore whose team only won 1/3 of their Patriot League games. Better fortunate next year, Austin! Hopefully the luck will swing back in Colgate’s favor. Maybe then, the coaches biased voting won’t get in the way.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride