Most people think that the NEC is going to be a four-team race between Wagner, Robert Morris, Long Island and Central Connecticut State. I’m here to say that the numbers say they’re wrong. This is really a two-team race between the Seahawks and the Colonials and everyone else is battling for third place. Alright, maybe that’s a bit an overstatement, but not much.
In 7,178 of the 10,000 simulations either Wagner or Robert Morris won the league title outright. There were just 479 other NEC seasons where a team other than those two won the outright league title. The path to the NEC title is going to go through either Staten Island or Pittsburgh this season.
What is interesting is that eight of the 12 teams in the conference managed to at least tie for the conference title once. That includes both 2-0 St. Francis (PA) and 1-1 St. Francis (NY). The chart below also shows why I’m not sold on the Red Flash even after they started out conference play with home wins over Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson. Basically those are two of the four easiest games you can play in the NEC this season and St. Francis (PA) doesn’t get another one of those gifts until February 16 when Bryant comes to DeGol Arena. In fact, there were multiple seasons when the Red Flash didn’t win another game in conference play.
The NEC though should be really interesting. The league standings ended in a tie 2,343 times (23.4%). That’s the highest out of any conference I’ve seen and while it speaks to the fact that 1) Robert Morris has to go to Wagner without the Seahawks going there and 2) Wagner already has a conference loss, it’s also a testament to the league’s depth beyond those two.
There are three easily discernable tiers here. RMU, Wagner, LIU make up the first one. Each of those teams at least tied for 10% of the league’s titles. Then there’s the longshot, but still possible group of CCSU, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (NY) and St. Francis (PA) and finally the bottom group of Mount St. Mary’s, Fairleigh Dickinson, Bryant and Monmouth that doesn’t appear to have much hope.
That said, because that bottom tier is so large, none of those teams are likely to go winless in conference play. There were just 120 seasons out of the 10,000 (1.2%) in which a team didn’t win a single NEC contest. Robert Morris was the only team to go undefeated in conference play and that happened just 229 times (2.3%).
Also, the best Monmouth did was win 10 games. I know some people think they can better than number in conference play. We’ll see how much the team is able to grow under King Rice this season. The Hawks have already shown some definitive improvement with wins over Navy and Fordham and at the very least should be competitive in every league game at home.