Happy NEC Opening Day!! In less than a few hours, all 10 teams will begin their quest to the NCAA tournament with game one of the 21 game stretch that is the NEC regular season and tournament.
Before the first jump ball, John Templon ran 10,000 simulations of the NEC based on the current KenPom rankings and each team’s offensive and defensive ratings. Before I briefly dive in, allow me to present John’s results:
|Name||Wins||Ties||Outright||Pct. Outright||Pct. Overall||Projected Wins||Over/Under|
|Mount St. Mary’s||2622||1126||2653||14.96%||26.22%||11||Under|
|St. Francis U.||330||213||171||1.17%||3.30%||8||Under|
|St. Francis Brooklyn||21||18||3||0.03%||0.21%||6||Over|
It may come as a surprise that the 4-6 Seahawks (3-6 if you remove their non-DI victory) are favored to either win outright or tie for the regular season championship nearly half of the time, but that’s the KenPom ranking working in their favor. Wagner is currently ranked 229th, which is pretty far ahead of most of its league competition. Offensive production is up, while the defensive numbers are down, though I bet KenPom is assuming Wagner will be better in the latter based on historic data. A final record of 11-7 seems fair to me, although I don’t see much upside past 12 wins.
Despite losing 11 of 13 games this non-conference season, the Mount has actually improved their KenPom rating by 37 spots – thanks to an unforeseen upset at George Mason (+18) and a blowout versus Coppin State (+19). All of the losses haven’t hurt the Mount’s NEC projection, because only seven teams in the nation had a tougher non-conference schedule. Can the offense carry the momentum into LIU Brooklyn and Wagner this week?
Robert Morris has also enjoyed an improvement in their KenPom rating, by 30 points to be exact. Given their wins vs Duquesne, Towson and Buffalo, this doesn’t come as a surprise, though it feels like the Colonials mediocre offensive numbers – only Isaiah Still and Billy Giles has an offensive rating at or above 100 – are keeping this team’s projection back some.
After the top three, four teams are projected to finish either 10-8 or 9-9, and other than the defending championship, I kind of have to agree with this assessment. Each team has its own issues they must face this regular season, but it’s reasonable to predict Sacred Heart, LIU Brooklyn and Bryant will win more games than they lose. It’s also eminently possible two of these four struggle to crack the NEC top 5.
Of the 10,000 simulations, only seven times was a program picked to finish 0-18 (St. Francis Brooklyn 3, Central Connecticut 4). This scenario is extremely unlikely to play out (I would be stunned if Glenn Braica couldn’t eek out a victory), but the statistic highlights each team’s struggles this non-conference season. So far, neither roster can defend a lick and obviously KenPom is concerned by it.
Do you agree with the KenPom projections and if not, please let us know in the comments section!