A few months ago two projection systems pegged Robert Morris as the best team in the NEC. While the Colonials haven’t been quite as good as those results might’ve suggested, they have taken care of business and have an 8-5 record as we head into conference play. So while RMU probably won’t be historically good by NEC standards, Andy Toole’s team is the one to beat.
I simulated the NEC’s conference play 10,000 times and Robert Morris came away with the outright title about 50% of the time. Once again, I haven’t modeled LIU’s suspensions, because there’s no easy way to do it. In case you’re wondering though: Pomeroy currently gives the Blackbirds about one win from their first weekend of conference play (61% at Sacred Heart, 38% at Quinnipiac) with a “full-strength” team. So if you want to assume they’ll lose both, doc them about a win and move on.
The team that has been the most disappointing during non-conference play in the NEC might be Quinnipiac. The Bobcats played a tough schedule, but losses to American and Maine at home are real head-scratchers. Tom Moore has his team rebounding the ball really well. (What else is new?) But they can’t do much else on a basketball court. Quinnipiac has given up the most ground since the last time I ran the simulations in November, dropping about 10 percentage points in their odds to win at least a share of the title.
Here’s a look at each team’s chances of winning at least a share of the title. Their outright title percentage is in parentheses:
- Robert Morris – 68% (50%)
- Wagner – 28% (15%)
- LIU Brooklyn – 11% (5%)
- Central Connecticut – 7% (3%)
- Quinnipiac – 6% (2%)
- St. Francis Brooklyn – 3% (1%)
- Bryant – 3% (1%)
- Mount St. Mary’s – 0.2% (0.01%)
- Sacred Heart – 0.06% (0.01%)
The trio of Monmouth, Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis (PA) failed to win a title during the simulations. The biggest gains since the last time I ran the simulations belong to Central Connecticut and Bryant. Howie Dickenman is shoving all the preseason projections back in our face by running his few good players extra hard and getting good results. The Blue Devils won 620 more titles this time around. The Bulldogs have been a pleasant surprise during non-conference play and have gone from 0 titles to 326 during the 10,000 sims.
The fight for the final few playoff spots still looks like it’s going to be an absolute blast. Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart and Monmouth look like they will be the three teams fighting for that eighth and final slot, but I could see CCSU (an injury away), LIU (if they don’t figure it out), Bryant (first season pressure) or St. Francis Brooklyn (point guard play) slipping down as well.
Here are the average number of wins for every NEC team during the simulations:
- Robert Morris – 14.0
- Wagner – 12.5
- LIU – 11.2
- CCSU – 10.6
- Quinnipiac – 10.6
- SFC – 10.0
- Bryant – 9.7
- MSM – 7.5
- Sacred Heart – 6.5
- Monmouth – 5.9
- FDU – 5.3
- SFU – 4.2
If you want drama for Thursday, whether LIU is able to go to Sacred Heart and win short-handed on opening night could help decide not only the final playoff spot in the NEC, but also which teams get home court advantage in the first round of the tournament. The drama starts immediately in conference play.
Notes: Robert Morris went undefeated a measly 84 times … The league ended with more than 3 teams tied for first 88 times … SHU, Monmouth, FDU and SFU combined to go winless 63 times … Bryant’s best season was 16 wins, which would be an incredible 14-game turnaround … LIU’s worst season was 4 wins, Wagner’s 6 and SFC’s 3 … RMU was the only team to win league titles by an average of more than 1 game (1.6 game lead in title situations)