Quinnipiac senior Ousmane Drame (photo courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics)

Tempo-Free MAAC: December Weekend Edition

I meant to write this on Thursday, but you know, life and stuff got in the way. Now though the MAAC December weekend is finished and we’ve now got a robust (hah!) two-game sample size with which to judge every MAAC school. Did we learn anything?

Not really. The standings are incredibly deceptive. For instance, Canisius, Monmouth and Fairfield are currently tied for first place at 2-0. That’s a great start for the Golden Griffins, Hawks, and Stags, but it’s unlikely to last. If you run a Monte Carlo simulation of the remainder of MAAC play 10,000 times those three teams combine to even tie for first just 28% of the time. (See below for more.)

Canisius makes up the bulk of that figure (20%) and Jim Baron’s team has to be considered the big surprise of the early going. A lot of people expected the Griffs to take a step back this season after losing Billy Baron, but as Ryan Restivo wrote, the depth that Canisius has shown this season is rather impressive and one of the reasons they could be a legitimate contender in the MAAC. One of the most impressive things about Canisius for me is that the Griffs have completely changed their identity this season. They were an up-tempo offensive machine last season, averaging 67.1 possessions per game (135th in the country) and finishing 45th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and 241st in adjusted defensive efficiency. This season Jim Baron has taken two full possessions off the pace, dropping them to 237th nationally, and it’s the defense (121st nationally) that’s carrying the offense (194th). That’s a sign of excellent coaching.

Thanks to that spiffy 2-0 record Canisius also leads in-conference MAAC efficiency rankings after two games. Of course, considering this is just two games, it doesn’t tell us a ton. But it’s still fun to check out. For reference: Last season’s best team (Iona) was at +0.13 points per possession and the worst team (Niagara) was at -0.11 points per possession.

Team Off. Efficiency Def. Efficiency Eff. Margin Poss. Per Game Luck
Canisius 1.11 0.98 +0.13 61.5 0.39
Fairfield 0.92 0.80 +0.13 66.5 0.31
Monmouth 1.06 0.99 +0.07 70.5 0.62
Manhattan 0.86 0.79 +0.07 66.5 -0.44
Iona 1.09 1.03 +0.07 76.0 -0.34
Siena 1.11 1.05 +0.06 70.0 -0.33
Rider 0.97 0.98 -0.01 74.0 0.04
St. Peter’s 0.99 1.03 -0.04 58.5 -0.76
Niagara 0.99 1.08 -0.09 63.0 0.45
Quinnipiac 0.88 1.07 -0.19 67.5 -0.20
Marist 0.67 0.89 -0.22 66.0 -0.07

The ugly start for Marist was expected, but what the heck is Quinnipiac doing all the way down near the bottom of the efficiency margin standings? The Bobcats were absolutely blown away at Siena on Dec. 5 and that game is going to push their efficiency margins down for the forseeable future. QU didn’t do themselves any favors the next game when they hosted Fairfield either. The Stags held them to a paltry 0.77 points per possession in the overtime loss (photos from it here). Quinnipiac, like most teams, struggles to win games when its offense isn’t clicking. Just knowing how efficient the Bobcats have been on offense will tell you if they won or lost thus far this season. They’re 3-0 when scoring more than 1 point per possession and 0-4 when scoring less.

Here’s the rest of the Monte Carlo simulation results that I mentioned earlier:

Team Win Pct. (With Ties) Most Common Place Most Common Win Total
Iona 70% 1 16
Canisius 20% 2 13
Siena 12% 3 13
Monmouth 6% 4 12
Manhattan 6% 6 12
Rider 3% 9 11
Saint Peter’s 2% 7 11
Quinnipiac 2% 8 11
Fairfield 2% 9 10
Niagara 0% 10 8
Marist 0% 11 5

The middle of the standings are really jumbled right now, which is why there was no one team that finished the majority of the time in fifth place. It’s great how much competition there will be for that spot, considering how important it is come MAAC tournament time. Also, note that this is for the regular season only. Siena is going to get a huge bump come tournament time no matter where the Saints are seeded because they’ll be playing the entire tourney on their home court. (It helps a lot!) Considering Iona has already lost once, the 16 wins seems a bit bullish. Also, Marist and Niagara appear locked into the bottom two spots in the league unless something drastically changes for one of those two teams.

We’ll have more tempo-free MAAC every week after the New Year! Enjoy the rest of non-conference play until then.