Iona Best School From Smaller Conference According To Value Add

Note: This is a guest post by John Pudner

After inquiries from people at the Ivy League in 2012, Big Apple Buckets gave me a forum to lay out the differences in rating players in the smaller conferences (which for purposes of the www.valueaddbasketball.com database I label as “Low-Major”).

Value Add summarizes each player’s contributions on offense and defense into one figure, representing how many points he improves his team over if a decent replacement player had played in his place. So if you win a game 62-60, and you had a player with a 4.0 Value Add having an average night for him, then you would assume you would have lost by two points instead of winning by two points if he had not been available. Here is the updated database.

One thing that has changed since I last wrote, is that the power in “Low-Major” conferences has shifted away from the East this year – but for one good reason. We finally had to reclassify the Ivy League as a Mid-Major. I just posted the All-Conference teams for all 19 Low-Major Conferences here, on a story that did get 160 shares/tweets, but the Ivy League all conference players are posted here with the other six Mid-Major Conferences – and yes I argue that Wesley Saunders may in fact be the overall National Player of the Year.

But with the Ivy League having moved up, here are the top 25 teams based purely on how far Low-Major Value Add believes their stars can take them. I will focus my comments on teams of interest in the Northeast.

  1. Iona – MAAC – 49.85: Iona is the No. 1 Value Add Low-Major team due to having two of the top six LM players in the country in A.J. English (16.09, 3rd) and Isaiah Williams (11.78, 6th). English’ streak of six straight games with at least 25 points and three treys ended against Indiana State Saturday only to have Williams pick up the slack with 6-13 from beyond the arc for 27 points. Yes, they were upset in a close game at No. 18 Monmouth and do not have the big upsets that Eastern Washington (over Indiana) and Incarnate Word (over Nebraska) have, but Value Add’s Low-Major ratings believe Iona has the most fire power of the smaller colleges.
  2. Eastern Washington – Big Sky – 49.68: Stunned Indiana 88-86.
  3. Incarnate Word – Southland – 44.59: Upset Nebraska.
  4. Northern Colorado – Big Sky – 44.43: Dominique Lee 17 rebounds against Colorado, 10 against New Mexico State.
  5. Long Beach St. – Big West – 41.89
  6. Georgia St. – Sun Belt – 41.55
  7. Eastern Kentucky – OVC – 40.54
  8. Stephen F. Austin – Southland – 39.59
  9. New Mexico St. – WAC – 39.43
  10. Lafayette – Patriot League – 38.34: Despite the drubbing at Yale, LM Value Add loves the balance of Lafayette with five players in the top 200 led by Joey Ptasinski (7.89, 66th) and Nick Lindner (7.83, 69th). Ptasinski doesn’t shoot much, but is the best shooter in the country according to KenPom with an 85.2% eFG% due mainly to nailing 27-47 three-pointers. Lindner is among the leaders in assists and getting to the foul line, and hits at 91% once at the line.
  11. Army – Patriot League – 37.86: Army scored a huge win for the Patriot League at USC, and LM Value Add sees the talent to potentially topple American and Lafayette for the title. They rely on a great top 100 trio in Kyle Wilson (7.48, 77th), Tanner Plomb (7.17, 85th) and Tanner Omlib (7.15, 88th). Wilson’s 19 points against Duke was impressive, but his 30 points to topple USC was even bigger.
  12. East Tennessee St. – Southern Conference – 37.34
  13. Belmont – OVC – 37.25
  14. Siena – MAAC – 36.91: Ryan Oliver is the No. 1 offensive player at KenPom, albeit it’s on the rare trips that he gets the ball. If he can shoot a little more than his 10 two-pointers and 32 three-pointers, he could give them a great duo. Despite the tough 3-5 start, LM Value Add sees a quite game-changer in Rob Poole as he’s a national leader in not turning the ball over, stealing from opponents, getting to the line, and then hitting 82% once there. His rating as the 10th best LM player will surprise many, and his four steals and three assists were key to the victory over St. Bonaventure.
  15. Western Carolina – Southern Conference – 36.72
  16. Portland St. – Big Sky – 36.49
  17. UC Davis – Big West – 35.66
  18. Monmouth – MAAC – 33.47: LM Value Add loves little Justin Robinson (9.16, 40th at just 5’8″) and Deon Jones (7.91, 64th). Robinson’s eight rebounds against a very good SMU team was amazing, and the fact that he is ranked nationally in overall offense by KenPom is even more amazing considering the Hawks played at West Virginia, Maryland, SMU and then upset Iona at home when he scored 18.
  19. Vermont – America East – 33.36: Vermont’s ability to pound it inside to Ethan O’Day (9.23, 38th) and then have freshman point guard Trae Bell-Haynes step up so strong (7.06, 93rd) gives them the firepower to challenge anyone as they did in the double overtime game vs. Harvard. Day has one of the top shooting percentages in the country (61.5%) at one end and is one of the top shot-blockers (10.5% of opponent’s shots) at the other end, but at 6’9″ is grabbing very few rebounds. Bell-Haynes is in the top 5% of the entire country in assists, steals and getting to the line, and hits 83% once he gets to the line and 54% from the floor. Stony Brook is Vermont’s toughest challenge in AE play, as the Seawolves are the 30th best team according to LM Value Add. SBU center Jameel Warney flirted with All-American status last year and is ranked 18th in LM Value Add so far.
  20. Wofford – Southern Conference – 33.07
  21. Georgia Southern – Sun Belt – 32.84
  22. Murray State – OVC – 32.37
  23. Arkansas St. – Sun Belt – 32.11
  24. South Carolina Upstate – Atlantic Sun – 31.63
  25. High Point – Big South – 31.41

Here are the other top teams projected in conferences without a Top 25 team:

  1. Nebraska Omaha – Summit – 29.76: Upset Marquette.
  2. North Carolina Central – MEAC – 26.62
  3. Arkansas Pine Bluff – SWAC – 23.47
  4. Saint Francis University – NEC – 22.17: Ronnie Drinnon is a mediocre offensive player, but ranks as the third best defensive player in LM Value Add (-4.86 points taken away from opponents for an overall 5.98, 144th). He had four steals to help hold Cincinnati to just 52 points, and was among the national leaders in defensive rebounds and blocked shots last year. LM Value Add does have Saint Francis U. as the weakest conference favorite at 75th overall, but has a solid duo in Malik Harmon (7.02, 98th) and Ronnie Drinnon (5.98, 144th). Although, this would have been a fun year to have NJIT in the NEC after Ky Howard led their upset of Michigan and near upset of Marquette.