Seton Hall leads our New York City power rankings as we start conference play.
A little background. A commenter asked late in 2016 if we would rank (or do a poll of our writers) about the best teams in the New York City area. It’s something we’ve done in the past (well, two years ago). Now that there are enough games in the books I thought it’d be fun to restart. But these are my opinions alone.
The ground rules:
1) Any team eligible for Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association awards can be ranked. This means that Rider is eligible and Princeton is not. Take that up with the MBWA and not me.
2) I’m doing my rankings based on current performance. If we put the teams in a neutral gym tomorrow the team at No. 1 would be favored over everyone else, etc. It doesn’t say anything about a team’s “resume.” (For that please see NIT Bracketology, which is the best-case at-large bid scenario for every NYC area team besides Seton Hall at this point.)
Finally, I threw in one of my favorite statistical nuggets for each team in the power rankings. Because what’s a NYC Buckets rankings without a little data? All stats from either KenPom or Hoop-Math (potentially with some finesse). I highly recommend both sites.
1. Seton Hall: Since I mentioned the MBWA, it’s worth pointing out that Angel Delgado has to be one of the favorites for the Haggerty Award. There are only seven players in the entire nation that are ranked in the Top 35 in both offensive and defensive rebounding in the country—though Amadou Sidibe of Fairfield and Rokas Gustys of Hofstra both play for teams on this list. But only John Collins of Wake Forest and Ethan Happ of Wisconsin play for major conference teams. The player in second in rebounding in the Big East is 52 rebounds behind Delgado. He’s crashing the glass hard.
2. St. John’s: The Red Storm are ranked here because of an absolutely stunning turnaround that has seen them beat Syracuse, Butler and DePaul in their last three games. The reason has been blistering offensive production, led in part by two freshmen, Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett. Ponds’ 120.9 offensive rating ranks 62nd nationally and 9th amongst freshmen among players using at least 20% of their team’s possessions.
3. Monmouth: It may seem odd to have the Hawks here after they’ve lost three games in a row, but their overall statistical profile hasn’t changed much. What has changed is Monmouth’s projected record in the MAAC. The recent two-game losing streak has dropped their projected win total from 16 to 13 and most likely out of NCAA Tournament at-large bid competition. The Hawks though sure are fun to watch. They rank fourth nationally in the percent of initial field goal atttempts in transition (defined as 10 seconds or less after gaining possession) at 38.3%.
4. Iona: The Gaels have always been excellent at offense under Tim Cluess. This season’s current ranking of 100th in adjusted offensive efficiency would actually be the team’s worst finish since he arrived for the 2010-11 season. The Gaels though are still getting the shots they want, they’re just not hitting them at quite as proficient a clip. Iona ranks 302nd nationally in the percentage of total shots that are 2-point jump shots (21.6%), an analytics bugaboo.
5. Rutgers: It remains to be seen if the progress Steve Pikiell has made can hold up throughout Big Ten play, but one of the most impressive changes has been Rutgers’ improvement on the defensive end. The Scarlet Knights have improved their adjusted defensive efficiency by 9.5 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best mark in the nation. (And while it also has to do with personnel losses, Stony Brook has seen the second biggest drop.) A completely separate concern for Rutgers? Their offense has been generated almost entirely by shots at the rim (51.1%, 1st nationally). As the Scarlet Knights play more Big Ten foes that can match up physically that strategy might not prove nearly as effective.
6. Hofstra: Defense cost Hofstra a win on Monday against William & Mary, and if it seems like that’s a thing that happens a lot you’re right. It’s obvious at this point that Joe Mihalich is a solid mid-major coach, but his programs always struggle to play defense. In 16 seasons as a head coach at Niagara and Hofstra, his defenses have ranked in Top 150 of adjusted efficiency only three times (2009, 2010 and 2016). Hofstra’s offense is good enough to win the CAA, but its ultimate fate will be dictated by the other side of the ball.
7. Fordham: The Rams have taken a slight step back in Jeff Neubauer’s second season, but sophomore Joseph Chartouny continues to impress. Chartouny ranks first nationally in steal percentage, at 7.0%. He’s fourth nationally in total steals with 46 only because of playing fewer games and minutes than his competition.
8. Fairfield: Besides being an excellent offensive rebounder, senior forward Amadou Sidibe is also an extremely efficient offensive player. Part of that is just where he takes his shots. Nearly 78% of Sidibe’s field goal attempts this season have been at the rim, and he’s shot 63% on them.
9. Saint Peter’s: John Dunne has consistently resisted the urge to speed up his team’s tempo even as the MAAC has gotten faster. Now the Peacocks are a dinosaur. They’re the only team in the league with an adjusted tempo below 220th nationally. SPU is playing just 65 possessions per game. Interestingly, just four of the Peacocks’ 13 games this season have had 70 possessions or more. They’re 3-1 in those games, with the only loss coming at home to Iona on Dec. 2, 2016.
10. Rider: Similar to Rider (and MAAC foe Siena), the Broncs are allergic to three-point shots. Rider ranks 17th nationally in the percentage of shots it takes at the rim. Of course when you’re shooting 28% from three (336th nationally), driving usually makes more sense. It’s not a matter of redistributing those shots either. The team leader in three-point percentage is Anthony Durham at 36% but he’s just 5-14. Nobody else is shooting better than 31% from distance.
Others teams eligible (not in any order): Wagner, Manhattan, FDU, LIU Brooklyn, Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Marist, Stony Brook, Columbia, NJIT, Army
I’ll try to do this on a monthly basis on a day after there weren’t any NYC area games, because that seems like the most fair time to rank teams.