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Analyzing The NEC’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

While Mount St. Mary’s represented the league in the NCAAs last March, the team with the NEC’s most difficult non-conference schedule is favored to replace them in 2018.

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis (PA) at Marquette
Josh Nebo and the St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash will head into the new season with the NEC’s toughest non-conference slate by far.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2017-18 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Ranking The Teams

The Selection Committee has sent the Northeast Conference’s last four tournament champs to Dayton. Considering that every member ranks in the bottom 150 of the four-year rankings with a full 40 percent sitting in the bottom 50, this fact shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Only the MEAC and SWAC rate lower on average than the NEC.

NEC Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Mount St. Mary's -2.843096 236
Wagner -3.1483445 244
Robert Morris -4.0365025 262
St. Francis PA -4.74025 279
LIU Brooklyn -5.061001 288
Fairleigh Dickinson -5.3102145 296
Sacred Heart -5.702842 304
Bryant -6.049679 309
St. Francis NY -6.6378656 317
Central Connecticut -11.00431 346
Average -5.45341051 288.1
Conference Rank 30th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

NEC favorite St. Francis University—the one in Pennsylvania—boasts a non-league slate that ranks anywhere from 12th to 30th across the four tables, and a further two or three teams join them in the top 100, again depending on the metric. However, the fact 60 percent of the conference has a schedule ranked outside of the top 200 doesn’t bode well for its national standing. And with a trio of teams sitting at 300th or worse in the Average Schedule ranking, it’s not surprising the NEC has a mere five leagues ranked below it when examining that measure.

*Denotes team will participate in a bracketed tournament. Reminder: Known Score = known matchups only; Average Score = known games+average of potential bracketed matchups; Maximum Score = known games+games against best potential bracketed matchups; Minimum Score = known games+games against worst potential bracketed matchups

NEC Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
St. Francis (Pa.) 5.516416405 19 5.516416405 18 5.516416405 30 5.516416405 12
Fairleigh Dickinson 3.759247825 71 3.759247825 62 3.759247825 88 3.759247825 59
Bryant 3.738577706 73 3.738577706 63 3.738577706 91 3.738577706 62
Mount St. Mary's 2.904951142 112 2.904951142 101 2.904951142 127 2.904951142 95
Robert Morris 1.143942154 222 1.143942154 210 1.143942154 232 1.143942154 209
Wagner 0.7451358591 244 0.7451358591 236 0.7451358591 259 0.7451358591 231
St. Francis-Brooklyn 0.6201877659 253 0.6201877659 243 0.6201877659 264 0.6201877659 238
Sacred Heart* -0.3207600337 300 0.1600308906 267 -0.124565649 299 -0.5169544183 294
LIU Brooklyn -2.360232158 345 -2.360232158 344 -2.360232158 345 -2.360232158 345
Central Connecticut State -2.86388811 348 -2.86388811 348 -2.86388811 348 -2.86388811 348
Average 1.288357856 198.7 1.336436948 189.2 1.307977294 208.3 1.268738417 189.3
Conference Rank 27th of 32 22nd of 32 29th of 32 22nd of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

When an entire conference ranks outside of the top 200, it shouldn’t be a surprise that its members’ non-league schedules reflect a range of gaps. Wagner, like UCLA and DePaul, managed to schedule exactly to its four-year ranking, while Central Connecticut State and Sacred Heart came rather close. However, the Red Flashes might have gone a bit too far—overscheduling nearly 300 places above their four-year ranking of 317th. I doubt St. Francis is going to improve nearly enough to make that gap look respectable.

NEC Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
3 Wagner 244 244 0
7 Central Connecticut State 346 348 -2
13 Sacred Heart 304 300 4
72 St. Francis-Brooklyn 279 253 26
102 Robert Morris 262 222 40
137 LIU Brooklyn 288 345 -57
236 Mount St. Mary's 236 112 124
319 Fairleigh Dickinson 296 71 225
325 Bryant 309 73 236
344 St. Francis (Pa.) 317 19 298
155.8 Average (23/32 conf.) 288.1 198.7 89.4

NEC Home, Power Conference, & Non-D1 Games

True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
39 0 29 11

By regularly putting up scheduling numbers like these, the NEC is unable to break the cycle of consistently ranking as one of the lowest-ranked conferences in Division I. Too few home games (even if surprisingly few feature non-D1 squads) and too many buy game beatdowns feature on league schedules from year to year. Only the SWAC has fewer non-conference home games among the mid-majors, though the NEC has 21 more of those on this year’s schedules. Conversely, the NEC ranks fourth out of the 25 mid-major leagues when measuring Power 7 road games.

NEC Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
America East 17 1
MAAC 14 0
Patriot 12 0
Non-D1 11 0
ACC 9 0
Big East 8 0
Ivy 8 0
Big Ten 7 0
A 10 6 0
Atlantic Sun 5 0
MEAC 5 0
MAC 4 0
American Athletic 3 0
WCC 3 0
Horizon 2 0
SEC 2 0
Big South 1 0
CAA 1 0
Summit 1 0
Sun Belt 1 1
WAC 1 0
Big 12 0 0
Big Sky 0 0
Big West 0 0
C-USA 0 0
MVC 0 0
MW 0 0
OVC 0 0
Pac-12 0 0
SoCon 0 0
Southland 0 0
SWAC 0 0

The NEC’s 10 members will only play non-conference games against 21 of Division I’s 32 leagues, with regional competition dominating. In fact, a mere 20 games on NEC schedules feature opposition from leagues centered away from the Eastern Seaboard.

NEC Non-Conference Games By Strength And Location

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
1-25 0 6 0 6 0.6 0
26-50 0 6 0 6 0.6 0
51-75 0 6 0 6 0.6 0
76-100 1 5 0 6 0.6 0
101-150 1 9 0 10 1 0
151-200 4 18 2 24 2.4 0
201-250 8 9 2 19 1.9 0
251-300 6 6 2 14 1.4 1
301-351 8 10 1 19 1.9 1
Non-D1 11 0 0 11 1.1 0
Total 39 75 7 121
Average 3.9 7.5 0.7 12.1
Percentage 0.3223140496 0.6198347107 0.05785123967
Conference Rank (of 32) 30th 3rd 23rd

NEC squads will play nearly twice as many road games as home contests during November and December. And with just 24 games scheduled against the top 100, the vast majority of those contests won’t do much to boost the conference’s low national esteem.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Average Schedule Strength National Ranking. Numbers in parentheses are opponent’s Team Score Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

19. St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Franciscan (Non-D1) None None None Saint Mary's (22)
American (283) San Francisco (129)
Bethany (Non-D1) Longwood (341)
Lehigh (163) Louisville (8)
Stony Brook (142)
Duke (9)
Niagara (297)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Longwood, @American) and 2 losses (@Lehigh, Stony Brook)

Expectations are high at the NEC’s Pennsylvania Franciscan institution, as many expect the Red Flash will replace Mount St. Mary’s at the top of the league. And that makes sense, since last year’s young squad managed to put a 17-17 campaign that ended in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament’s second round (after an NEC final appearance). Considering St. Francis has a WCC road swing and pair of ACC road games on its non-league schedule, Rob Krimmel’s squad should be well-prepared for the 21 NEC contests it will need to play to make the school’s first NCAA Tournament since 1991.

71. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

*Exempt Event: NIT Season Tip-Off (Visitor)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
FDU-Florham (Non-D1) None None None Seton Hall (48)*
Kean (Non-D1) Penn State (95)
Holy Cross (247) Saint Peter's (164)
Princeton (76) Iona (98)
Rutgers (199)
NJIT (249)
Maryland (30)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (FDU-Florham) and 4 losses (@Seton Hall, Saint Peter’s (N), Iona, @Rutgers)

The Knights’ participation in the NIT Season Tip-Off is more of a cameo appearance, since they only visit Seton Hall. Yes, even though former NEC rival Monmouth is also in the event, FDU won’t travel to East Long Branch to play the Hawks, let alone Virginia or Rhode Island. However, considering Greg Herenda’s team won just two non-league games a season ago, adding a two more likely road losses to an already challenging slate was probably a non-starter.

73. Bryant Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
Navy (238) None None None Georgia (54)
Brown (266) George Washington (83)
Siena (169)* Rutgers (199)
Hartford (324)
Yale (96)
New Hampshire (220)
Albany (126)*
Memphis (79)*
Louisville (8)*
Dartmouth (256)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 wins (Yale) and 4 losses (@Brown, @Navy, New Hampshire, Dartmouth)

Tim O’Shea’s Bulldogs won just three non-conference games a season ago, a total that somehow included a victory over Yale. But with Bryant playing two fewer home games this fall, don’t expect that number to increase—especially with four difficult Gotham Classic opponents lined up for December.

112. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational On The Mainland

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (8)
York (Pa.) (Non-D1)* None North Florida (209)* None Marquette (57)*
Morgan State (322) (Spartanburg, S.C.) Notre Dame (21)*
Loyola (Md.) (293) Georgetown (52)
Washington College (Non-D1) Ohio (127)
Pittsburgh (53)
Lehigh (163)
American (283)
Coppin State (339)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Coppin State) and 2 losses (@Loyola (Md.), Lehigh)

Last season, Jamion Christian’s Mount won just twice before NEC play began, then went on a run that ended in the First Round of the NCAAs. Oddly enough, the Mountaineers will travel to Wofford for the Maui on the Mainland subregional but won’t play the host—they’ll play one of the two non-D1 opponents on their schedule instead. When you combine that pair of lower-level contests with the presence of one fewer Power 7 road game (with two of those coming against Georgetown and Pittsburgh teams picked to finish at the bottom of their respective leagues), the defending NEC champs might head into league play with a slightly better record this time around.

222. Robert Morris Colonials

*Exempt Event: Grand Canyon Classic

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (9)
Rider (212) None Norfolk State (261)* None Ohio State (46)
Drexel (242) (Little Rock) Grand Canyon (172)*
Canisius (185) San Diego (221)*
Duquesne (195)
Little Rock (165)*
Youngstown State (278)
Siena (169)
Buffalo (104)
North Carolina State (67)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Duquesne (N), Buffalo) and 1 loss (Youngstown State)

The Colonials, who won four non-league games on the way to 14 overall victories, will travel west to San Diego and Grand Canyon as part of the ‘Lopes exempt tournament, which will also see Andrew Toole’s squad play a pair of games in Little Rock over Thanksgiving weekend. And with just three home games on the schedule, it’s going to be difficult for RMU to increase its non-conference win total of a season ago.

244. Wagner Seahawks

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
American (283) None None None NJIT (249)
Staten Island (Non-D1) Missouri (150)
Fairfield (232) Hartford (324)
UMass Lowell (316) Rider (212)
Mercy (Non-D1) Seton Hall (48)
Dayton (40)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@American, Staten Island) and 3 losses (@UMass Lowell, Fairfield, Rider)

On its way to the league final, St. Francis stunned the Seahawks in a memorable NEC semifinal last March, a result that kept Wagner out of the postseason despite a 17-16 record. Last fall, Bashir Mason’s squad went 4-6 against its non-conference slate—a record the 2017-18 version could improve upon that thanks to five winnable home games.

253. St. Francis-Brooklyn Terriers

*Exempt Event: Homewood Suites FGCU Shootout

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Brown (266) None Navy (238)* None Duquesne (195)
New Rochelle (Non-D1) Denver (187)* Manhattan (233)
Army West Point (248) FGCU (146)*
Notre Dame (21)
Fordham (186)
Saint Peter's (164)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 4 losses (@Brown, @Army West Point, Manhattan, Saint Peter’s)

The Terriers won just four games a season ago, with two of those coming out of NEC play. Making matters worse, St. Francis will enter the season on a 16-game losing streak. They’ll get a chance to reverse two of last season’s road losses at the Pope Center, but trips to Notre Dame and to FGCU for a three-game round-robin tournament mean it could be another tedious march to league play for Glenn Braica’s club.

300. Sacred Heart Pioneers

*Exempt Event: Hall Of Fame Tip-Off (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Holy Cross (247) Saint Peter's (164)* None None Boston College (160)*
Mitchell (Non-D1) South Alabama (263) or Northwestern (61)*
Dartmouth (256) Maine (343)* UMass Lowell (316)
Lafayette (314) St. John's (102)
Binghamton (331) Hartford (324)
Providence (43)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (UMass Lowell) and 4 losses (Hartford, @Lafayette, @Boston College, @Holy Cross)

The Pioneers have yet to even threaten .500 in Anthony Latina’s four seasons in charge. And even with a 2017 non-conference schedule that wouldn’t faze many non-NEC teams, I wouldn’t expect that fact to change without a significant run through league play. One thing working in Sacred Heart’s favor is the fact they’ll play their two Springfield Bracket games in the Hall Of Fame Tip-Off not too far from campus.

345. LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds

*Exempt Event: Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
New Rochelle (Non-D1) None Miami OH (253)* None Tulane (235)*
Hartford (324) Hartford (324)* Fordham (186)*
Stony Brook (142) UMass Lowell (316)
Fairfield (232) Brown (266)
Saint Peter's (164) NJIT (249)
Binghamton (331)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (@UMass Lowell, @Hartford)

Last season, the Blackbirds managed a 7-6 non-NEC mark, but all but two of those teams are off this schedule. Plus, LIU must play Hartford, responsible for one of those half-dozen defeats, twice. The first of those meetings will be part of the Jamaica Showcase, which Derek Kellogg’s squad will get to travel to the Caribbean for (unlike some of the other mid-majors involved). Still, with marquee road games against Minnesota and St. John’s swapped out for ones with Tulane and Fordham, this is an easier slate than last season’s. Kellogg’s first year in charge might just see a push for a second consecutive 20-win season.

348. Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

*Exempt Event: Showcase On The Banks

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (10)
Coppin State (339)* None None None Hartford (324)
North Carolina A&T (348) Rutgers (199)*
Maine (343) St. John's (102)
East Carolina (198)*
Cleveland State (219)*
Brown (266)
DePaul (171)
Northern Illinois (184)
Boston College (160)
UMass Lowell (316)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Hartford, @Maine) and 3 losses (Brown, @Rutgers, @UMass Lowell)

In Donyell Marshall’s first season, the Blue Devils only defeated a pair of America East foes and twice that many NEC rivals. In other words, this is a team that has a long way to go to reach respectability. But given the number of lesser lights—of both the overall D1 and Power 7 variety—on this slate, CCSU will receive opportunities to speed up that process over November and December.

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