Tempo-Free MAAC: Predicting the 5th Seed

Welcome to another week of tempo-free MAAC. Not surprisingly the Iona Gaels have solidified their chances of winning the MAAC. Tim Cluess’ team won both games in Buffalo over the weekend and now has a 94% chance of at least being tied for first at the end of conference season. (Up 31 percentage points from last week!) 

The Gaels’ efficiency margin is more than double last season’s league-leading efficiency margin of +0.07 points per possession. Iona is at +0.13 points per possession after defeating both Canisius and Niagara on the road. They’re being chased though by two talented teams in Manhattan and Canisius.

Here are the full tempo-free standings:

  1. Iona (12-2): +0.13 points per possession
  2. Manhattan (10-4): +0.10
  3. Canisius (10-4): +0.10
  4. Quinnipiac (10-4): +0.05
  5. Rider (8-6): +0.00
  6. Siena (7-7): -0.02
  7. Marist (6-8): -0.02
  8. Saint Peter’s (5-9): -0.07
  9. Monmouth (4-10): -0.08
  10. Niagara (3-11): -0.10
  11. Fairfield (2-12): -0.12

Not all of the 10-4 teams are created equal obviously. The Bobcats are still considered to be the luckiest team in the MAAC at 1.39 wins above expected during MAAC play. (Interestingly, even at the highest efficiency margin Iona is second at 0.91 wins above expectation.) Both Fairfield and Niagara are below their expectation as are the Jaspers.

I ran 10,000 simulations for the rest of the MAAC season because I wanted to know a team’s chances of earning one of the all important Top 5 seeds. Below are the percentage chances a team won’t have to play in the first round during the MAAC tournament.

Chances of Earning a Top Five Seed:

  1. Iona: 100%
  2. Canisius: 99.9%
  3. Quinnipiac: 99.8%
  4. Manhattan: 99.6%
  5. Rider: 82.1%
  6. Siena: 10.4%
  7. Marist: 7.4%
  8. Saint Peter’s: 0.8%
  9. Monmouth: 0.1%

Even though the Broncs haven’t been particularly impressive during conference play, they have a built in advantage here down the stretch. Rider plays four of its final six games at home. KenPom predicts the Broncs will finish with an 11-9 record. Siena finished as high as third place during simulations, but that was extremely rare. The most likely scenario is that the Saints finish 6th (43%) or 7th (31%). Marist had a pretty even distribution between 6th through 8th place, but all that’s doing is determining which team you’re playing on the first night.

In case you’re wondering, Fairfield finished last during 64% of simulations. Niagara finished last 34% of the time and Monmouth (1.6%) and Saint Peter’s (0.2%) still have small chances of finishing at the bottom of the league. The fact that the Hawks are much more likely to finish 8th (20%) or 9th (53%) than 10th or 11th still speaks to the work that King Rice has done despite a lackluster weekend where the Hawks lost at both Fairfield and Saint Peter’s to extend their losing streak to five.

Last week I wrote that 16 wins was the magic number. Despite Iona’s impressive weekend that still remains the case. The MAAC champion won 16 games 40% of the time. There’s more upside now as the MAAC champion won 17 games 35% of the time and 18 games 11%. The Gaels are barely more likely to win 16 games (35.5%) than 17 games (35.0%) according to these simulations.

It will certainly be an interesting run down the stretch. Here are some other superlatives.

Best Offenses:

  1. Iona: 1.20 points scored per possession
  2. Canisius: 1.18
  3. Quinnipiac: 1.13

Worst Offenses:

  1. Saint Peter’s: 0.95 points score per possession
  2. Fairfield: 0.95
  3. Monmouth: 0.98

Best Defenses:

  1. Manhattan: 0.95 points allowed per possession
  2. Saint Peter’s: 1.01
  3. Marist: 1.04

Worst Defenses:

  1. Niagara: 1.14 points allowed per possession
  2. Quinnipiac: 1.09
  3. Canisius: 1.08

Other Superlatives:

  • Fastest Team: Iona (73 possessions per game)
  • Slowest Team: Saint Peter’s (65 possessions per game)
  • Luckiest Team: Quinnipiac (1.39 wins above expected)
  • Unluckiest Team: Fairfield (0.87 wins below expected)

3 thoughts on “Tempo-Free MAAC: Predicting the 5th Seed

  1. Is there any possibility the MAAC could send two teams to the big dance? How about the other post season tournaments? Which teams might go where?


    1. Good question. If I had to guess I’d say that Manhattan is probably NIT bound if the Jaspers don’t win the MAAC tournament. Manhattan has an okay out of conference resume, but the loss to Fordham is a killer as is the loss to Fairfield. Still, I think the Jaspers will be in my next NIT Bracketology on Monday.

      If I had to guess here’s how I envision it playing out right now:

      Iona – NCAA tournament (MAAC tournament champ)
      Manhattan – NIT
      Quinnipiac – CBI/CIT (potentially hosting a game or two)
      Canisius – CBI/CIT (potentially hosting a game or two)
      Rider – CIT with a hot finish, but that’s looking less likely


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