The BHJ Percentages Game: NEC Regular Season Final Stretch Run

We are coming down to the wire in the Northeast Conference Men’s Basketball season. Two week left to go. Four or some cases five games left to play. The NEC playoff jockeying is now is full swing as teams head down the home stretch to the finish. Here is what the current NEC MBB standings look like going into Week Eight of the season. (Standings courtesy of northeastconference.org)

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With four games left, there is still hundreds of scenarios that can result in which eight teams get into the NEC Tournament field and which four teams will get quarterfinal home games to start it all off. I thought it would be fun to lay out some unofficial and unscientific Blackbirds Hoops Journal percentages going through each NEC team that haven’t been eliminated and see what all you guys all think will happen in these next two weeks. First, let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. FDU and St. Francis U. are both eliminated for NEC Tournament contention.

Monmouth: Chances of making NEC Tournament: 1%

Monmouth is two games back with four to play. They would also need to leapfrog two teams to get that last playoff position. They pretty much have to win all four games and get major help from CCSU and St. Francis Brooklyn. They have to face Robert Morris on the road next which with a loss will likely put a wrap on their NEC tourney hopes. Even if they somehow get by RMU Thursday, they still have a tough game to play at home versus Wagner in the regular season finale. It looks like Monmouth will miss the NEC tourney in their final run in the NEC.

KenPom Predictions: Monmouth loses their last four and finishes 5-13 and in 10th place.

St. Francis Brooklyn: Chances of making NEC Tournament: 40%

Almost a month ago, SFC was in a three-way tie for second-place. Now they are in 9th place, on the outside looking in for a NEC tourney spot. SFC put themselves in a bad predicament by losing six of the last eight games. Bad news: they lost to 8th-place CCSU head-to-head so ending tied with the Blue Devils does them nothing. Good news: three of their last four games are at home. Bad news: every team they face is .500 or better with a combined record of 31-23. Good news: CCSU has to play five games, three of them this week. SFC will likely need to win all four remaining games and hope for CCSU to lose two of their last five.

KenPom Predictions: SFC goes 3-1, losing by a point at Mount St. Mary’s and finishing 9-9.

Central Connecticut State: Chances of making NEC Tournament: 35%

CCSU, for now, have control of their destiny for making the NEC tourney. With one loss up and a game in hand, they are in the driver seat for at least keeping the 8-seed. If they go 4-1 in their last five, they are in. Even 3-2 could get them in if SFC loses another game. Four of their final five games are tough. They got tough road games this week, at Bryant and at Sacred Heart. A split will likely be best case scenarion for them. Two losses and then it becomes full blown run the table time for CCSU and having to play Quinnipiac and Robert Morris at home will make that task very difficult. CCSU has been up and down this season and they are on a down swing now losing three straight. If they want in on the NEC tourney, they need to turn it around quick. My gut feeling say that they are going to miss out due to their tough schedule to close and open the door for SFC to get in.

KenPom Predictions: CCSU finishes 2-3 with losses to Bryant, Sacred Heart and Robert Morris and finishing 8-10 and miss the NEC Tournament.

Mount St. Mary’s: Chances of making NEC Tournament: 70%, Chances of getting a 4-seed: 10%

The Mount by winning five of their last six have put themselves in good place now of making the NEC tournament field. Two more wins should clinch it for MSM and even if they trip up at home this week against LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn, they finish with nothing-to-play-for Monmouth and FDU on the road to close. That should be enough to get them in at 9-9. As for getting a home game, they would need to win out and hope for Wagner, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart to fall apart. At this stage, I can’t see that happening to all three teams. I think end up with a 6 or 7-seed.

KenPom Predictions: 4-0 including three straight one point wins against LIU, SFC and Monmouth and ending up 11-7.

Sacred Heart: Chances of getting a 4-seed: 5%

Sacred Heart has the toughest schedule remaining of any team in the NEC. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 39-28. They have nearly must-wins game at home this week against surging Quinnipiac and desperate CCSU. Then finish with a brutal road trip at Bryant, at LIU Brooklyn, at St. Francis Brooklyn. The Pioneers to have a chance at the 4-seed would need to win the Quinnipiac game and take the season series and hope Wagner loses three times. Not likely with the Wagner having two relatively easy games on the road to finish at FDU and at Monmouth. Two wins this week especially a win versus Quinnipiac could likely get them a 5-seed. I believe they’ll likely do no worse than the 6-seed.

KenPom Predictions: 2-3, winning their first two Quinnipiac and CCSU and then dropping their last three to finish 9-9.

Quinnipiac: Chances of getting a 4-seed: 35%

Quinnipiac is one of the hotter teams in the NEC, winners of six of their last seven which has gotten them up to a five-seed. Although a lot of their recent wins have come against teams on the bottom of the NEC standings, they did get two big wins in last two weeks. One at Wagner and another at home versus Robert Morris. Their schedule is second toughest to SHU. Their opponents’ record is 38-29 and they only have one home game remaining against Bryant. A big advantage Quinnipiac has is that they own the win head-to-head against Wagner. My take is that I could see the Bobcats slip thanks to their not very favorable remaining schedule. I think the best they will do is go 3-2 which won’t put them no higher that a 5-seed and likely drops them to a 6-seed when it is all say and done.

KenPom Predictions: 1-4, the one though is a win vs Bryant. They would also end up at 9-9.

Wagner: Chances of keeping a Top 4 seed: 75%, Chances of getting a 1-seed: 30%

Wagner has the easiest schedule in terms of opponents’ record (23-33) of the any of the top four teams which is a big plus. One negative though is that they play only one of those games at home. That one though is a big one against LIU Brooklyn at a likely packed Spiro Sports Center on Sunday on national TV on ESPNU. That game will likely be the decider if they get one or two home games in the NEC tournament. If they run the table and can get a couple of RMU losses then a 1-seed can possibly happen. They are playing really well of late. They are not going to be an easy team to knock off. This week will be a huge test. If they win both, they’ll win out. If they split, 1-seed is gone. If they lose both, then they open the door for Quinnipiac to get ahead of them. I think they end up splitting this week and goes into an easier week next week and get the two wins they need to keep a home game for the NEC quarterfinals.

KenPom Predictions: 3-1, with the one loss to St. Francis Brooklyn by 3. They finished at 12-6.

Bryant: Chances of keeping a Top 4 seed: 85%, Chances of getting a 1-seed: 50%

Bryant has been the front runner from day one. Then they go 0-2 this past week and fall down to third place. The good news for them is that they play four of the final five games at home including what could be the 1-seed decider against Robert Morris. Their next four games won’t be any picnic. They have a desperate CCSU next before heading to Quinnipiac and then taking on Sacred Heart.  Then comes what might be the biggest game of the year in the NEC vs RMU and then a game against SFU. Bryant doesn’t own their destiny for a Top 2 seed. They need to beat RMU in their game against them and hope LIU Brooklyn has one more loss than they do. My gut believes they finish with no worst than the 2-seed by beating RMU head-to-head at home next week. I think they have a very good chance of running the table and getting to 14-4.

KenPom Predictions: 4-1, losing just to Quinnipiac on the road and finishing at 13-5.

LIU Brooklyn: Changes of keeping a Top 4 seed: 60%, Chances of getting a 1-seed: 50%

The Blackbirds have the hardest road to go of any of the top four teams. Their opponents’ combined record is 31-23. They have two difficult road tests this week before facing two more difficult opponents at home next week. Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner have only lost a combined four games at home this season. It will not be an easy task to get two all-important road wins this week. Another thing for LIU Brooklyn to consider is, right now, they only have the head-to-head advantage over one team in the top six in the standings (Bryant). A loss at this juncture for them could be catastrophic. They don’t control their destiny for a 1-seed but they do for the 2-seed. They may have no choice but to try and run the table and at least know they have a 2-seed locked up.

As those of you who are avid readers of this blog know, I don’t make predictions on LIU games and I won’t start now. Do I think they can will the final four games? Yes. Do I think they can slip up one or two times and be on the outside of the top four looking in? Yes. I’m honestly scared to death on what is going to happen. I do believe if they want any shot of doing the historic three-peat, they can’t fall below a two-seed and depending on who they play, maybe that might not even be enough. The next four games are going to be torture folks. Absolute torture.

KenPom Predictions: 2-2 with losses on the road to Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner and finishing 12-6.

Robert Morris: Changes of keeping a Top 4 seed: 95%, Changes of getting a 1-seed: 60%

RMU is nearly a virtual lock for a top 4 seed. They own tiebreakers over everyone in the top 6 except for Bryant who they have yet to face. They control their own destiny. They win out, they’re the 1-seed. The game against Bryant will be their regular season game of the year. They face a rather easy schedule otherwise although the game at CCSU could present a bit of a problem.

KenPom Predictions: 3-1, with the one loss being at Bryant giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker.

No matter what happens over the next two weeks. No matter who gets in to the NEC tournament this season. Be ready for anything and I mean anything to happen. No home teams should feel safe. The next three weeks until we reach the NEC championship game are going to be absolutely wild and insane. Enjoy, if you can. But I totally understand if you can’t.

So in using KenPom predictions for the final two weeks, this is what the final standings would look like:

1. Bryant 13-5[1]
2. Robert Morris 13-5
3. Wagner 12-6[2]
4. LIU Brooklyn 12-6
5. Mount St. Mary’s 11-7
6. St. Francis Brooklyn 9-9[3]
7. Sacred Heart 9-9[4]
8. Quinnipiac 9-9

Here is what the 2013 NEC Tournament would look like based on these final standings:

(1)Bryant vs (8) Quinnpiac
(2) Robert Morris vs (7) Sacred Heart
(3) Wagner vs (6) St. Francis Brooklyn
(4) LIU Brooklyn vs (5) Mount St. Mary’s

[1] Bryant gets the 1-seed by virtue of winning their head-to-head meeting according to KenPom
[2] Wagner gets the 3-seed by winning the season series 2-0 vs LIU Brooklyn with KenPom having Wagner winning second meeting
[3] St. Francis Brooklyn gets the 6-seed by having the best winning percentage of amongst the three teams in the three-way tie at 9-9
[4] Sacred Heart gets the 7-seed by winning the season series 2-0 vs Quinnipiac with KenPom having SHU winning second meeting
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