Tempo-free MAAC: Thoughts on Experience

How much does experience really matter? You know, that’s a great question. It seems pretty intuitive that if you have an experienced team they’ll be better in close games and you might be able to out-perform your efficiency margin.

Is that the case in the MAAC this season? No way. The youngest team in the conference according to KenPom’s experience metric is Niagara. The Purple Eagles just happen to own the best efficiency margin and be the second most lucky team in the league according to wins versus expected wins in league play. Siena, the luckiest team, is also the second youngest.

I’m sure experience matters at some level. There’s a decent correlation between efficiency margin and experience this season. (Well except for Marist.) Teams with veteran players like Loyola (MD), Canisius and Iona are near the top of the standings. (Though Canisius and Iona are both interesting cases as many of their players hadn’t played together before this season.) There’s little evidence though that “being older” is the reason these teams are winning. Composure and – more importantly – talent come in many forms.

Standings by Efficiency Margin:

  1. Niagara: 0.09
  2. Canisius: 0.08
  3. Iona: 0.07
  4. Fairfield: 0.07
  5. Loyola (MD): 0.05
  6. Manhattan: 0.02
  7. Rider: 0.01
  8. Siena: -0.13
  9. Marist: -0.13
  10. St. Peter’s: -0.14

The top six teams are decided by 0.10 in efficiency margin. You know what that’s the equivalent of? The difference between first place Iona and second place Manhattan last season. How tight team’s 1-7 are bunched up is absolutely incredible. It’s made for a fun season thus far and I’d expect it to continue.

Best Offense:

  1. Iona: 1.12 points score per possession
  2. Niagara: 1.10
  3. Canisius: 1.08

Worst Offense:

  1. St. Peter’s: 0.88
  2. Siena: 0.92
  3. Rider: 0.95

Siena’s defense has improved lately (I promise even though they’re second to last), but the Saints are still really struggling offensively. They’re coming off of 54 points in 67 possessions at home against Fairfield. If Evan Hymes isn’t scoring then it’s just O.D. Anosike. I was warned about the Saints’ struggles to score in the preseason by a few ratings systems (Dan Hanner’s in particular) and ignored them. I’ll pay more attention next season.

Best Defense:

  1. Fairfield: 0.92 points allowed per possession
  2. Rider: 0.95
  3. Manhattan: 0.95

Worst Defense:

  1. Marist: 1.09
  2. Siena: 1.05
  3. Iona: 1.05

As Fairfield’s schedule gets softer a defense that looked “good” early in the season looks more and more impressive. They’re doing exactly what they should do and shutting down mediocre and bad offenses. With a bunch of relatively easy games coming up this number might be even better next week.


  1. Siena: 1.79 wins above expected
  2. Niagara: 1.24
  3. Rider: 0.67


  1. Fairfield: -2.40
  2. Manhattan: -1.53
  3. Canisius: -0.58

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