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

Monmouth owns a top five schedule in most categories, but the bottom of the MAAC failed to follow the Hawks’ lead. Some would say that was a wise move.

NCAA Basketball: Monmouth-NJ at Syracuse
Monmouth won’t be the MAAC favorite this time around, but King Rice sure scheduled like it.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

Considering the amount of national attention Monmouth has drawn over the past two seasons and Iona’s consistent excellence, it’s flat out surprising to see the Gaels barely in the four-year rankings’ top 100 and the Hawks outside of it. Of course, the fact that no other MAAC squads rank in the top 150—with seven league members falling in the bottom half of Division I—eventually works it way to weighing down the rankings of the top two.

MAAC Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Iona 3.062638 98
Monmouth 2.5616265 108
Saint Peter's -0.2571175 164
Siena -0.3352526 169
Canisius -0.9958402 185
Rider -1.7709747 212
Fairfield -2.693901 232
Manhattan -2.704667 233
Quinnipiac -4.1120015 264
Niagara -5.3139955 297
Marist -6.305424 312
Average -1.714991773 206.7272727
Conference Rank 18th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

With Monmouth ranking in the top five or 10 nationally (depending on the category) and three teams appearing at least twice in the bottom 50, the MAAC’s spread of non-conference schedules more resembles the SWAC’s or MEAC’s than another mid-ranked league. Just four of the conference’s 11 teams rank in the top 150 consistently, with those teams all landing among the top 100 when it comes to known matchups.

*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

MAAC 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
Monmouth 7.458108463 4 7.458108463 4 7.458108463 7 7.458108463 4
Siena 3.242453327 100 3.242453327 88 3.242453327 114 3.242453327 83
Iona* 2.524318967 131 3.198727683 91 3.070070402 121 2.181393558 137
Rider* 2.385396333 138 2.995868205 100 2.448824365 152 2.321968302 124
Fairfield 1.114809141 223 1.114809141 212 1.114809141 234 1.114809141 211
Niagara* 0.6344811192 251 0.7562048792 234 0.89475335 249 0.3742088885 250
Manhattan* 0.2768707422 266 0.6001152667 246 0.48360645 272 0.0492537813 268
Marist* -0.2647063714 297 -0.5384425 302 0.1582504063 282 -0.5725311552 296
Quinnipiac* -0.6027797427 311 -1.004270785 323 0.3389737417 276 -1.275558133 331
Canisius -0.6485595731 312 -0.6485595731 306 -0.6485595731 319 -0.6485595731 299
Saint Peter's* -0.6706421364 315 -0.215684825 287 -0.4718997727 314 -0.8693845 314
Average 1.404522752 213.4545455 1.541757207 199.3636364 1.644490027 212.7272727 1.216014736 210.6363636
Conference Rank 24th of 32 20th of 32 26th of 32 24th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

The average MAAC schedule is only 6.7 places weaker than the average MAAC Team Score, which leads Division I. But that doesn’t mean all 11 teams did a great job at building schedules that correlate to their recent performances. Fairfield and Marist did the best, keeping their schedules within 15 or fewer places of their four-year ranking. Monmouth highlights the group of teams that didn’t—as the Hawks are one of three squads that missed their target by 100 or more places. However, King Rice’s team was, as you’d expect, the only one of the trio to over-schedule.

MAAC 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
28 Fairfield 232 223 9
44 Marist 312 297 15
83 Iona 98 131 -33
84 Manhattan 233 266 -33
117 Niagara 297 251 46
118 Quinnipiac 264 311 -47
159 Siena 169 100 69
173 Rider 212 138 74
211 Monmouth 108 4 104
240 Canisius 185 312 -127
273 Saint Peter's 164 315 -151
139.0909091 Average (1/32 conf.) 206.7272727 213.4545455 -6.727272727

MAAC 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
44 0 (+1 semi-home game) 17 (+1 possible semi-road game in MTEs) 0

The closest a MAAC squad gets to hosting a Power 7 squad is Monmouth’s contest against Kentucky at MSG—roughly 55 miles from West Long Branch. As you’ll see below, the 11 teams in this league will spend large portions of November and December on the road, as they average a mere four home games each this fall. That ranks 21st among the 25 mid-major leagues. However, the conference as a whole must be commended for avoiding games against non-Division I opposition.

MAAC Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
NEC 14 0
Patriot 13 1
Ivy 12 1
America East 11 3
A 10 9 1
CAA 9 4
Big East 6 1
American Athletic 4 2
Atlantic Sun 4 0
Big Ten 4 0
ACC 3 1
Horizon 3 1
MAC 3 1
MEAC 3 1
Big South 2 1
OVC 2 0
SWAC 2 0
WCC 2 0
Big 12 1 1
Big Sky 1 1
Big West 1 1
C-USA 1 2
MVC 1 3
MW 1 0
Pac-12 1 1
SEC 1 1
SoCon 1 2
Southland 1 0
Sun Belt 1 4
WAC 1 0
Non-D1 0 0
Summit 0 0

While MAAC schedules heavily feature matchups against fellow Eastern mid-majors from the NEC, Patriot League, Ivy League, and America East, don’t underestimate their national scope. The only Division I league that won’t take the floor against a Metro Atlantic squad this season is the Summit League.

MAAC 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 4 2 6 0.5454545455 0
26-50 0 5 0 5 0.4545454545 0
51-75 0 6 1 7 0.6363636364 2
76-100 3 9 1 13 1.181818182 2
101-150 11 10 1 22 2 5
151-200 2 9 1 12 1.090909091 10
201-250 9 9 3 21 1.909090909 4
251-300 11 7 1 19 1.727272727 7
301-351 7 6 3 16 1.454545455 4
Non-D1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 43 65 13 121
Average 3.909090909 5.909090909 1.181818182 11
Percentage 0.3553719008 0.5371900826 0.1074380165
Conference Rank (of 32) 29th 7th 14th

The fact so many MAAC teams participate in bracketed tournaments this season keeps the split of home and away non-conference games relatively respectable. And that’s even true when you realize that only the NEC, MEAC, and SWAC will play fewer non-conference home games than the MAAC. Looking at the breakdown of games against teams from outside of the top 100, conference members did well in splitting home and away games against teams ranked between 101st and 105th, but MAAC teams will still play their share of road games against lower-tier D1 squads.

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.

4. Monmouth Hawks

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

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Bucknell (128) Kentucky (3) None None Seton Hall (48)*
Penn (230) (Madison Square Garden) Lehigh (163)
Albany (126) Virginia (2)*
Hofstra (132) UNC Asheville (143)*
UConn (55)
Princeton (76)
Yale (96)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Princeton) and 0 losses

Three seniors, including MAAC Player of the Year Justin Robinson, left campus without experiencing the NCAA Tournament. Now King Rice’s squad must climb the hill again while seeking to replace a substantial amount of production. Participation in the NIT Season Tip-Off will give Monmouth opportunities to upset Seton Hall and Virginia on the road, but not a single home game. On the other hand, the Hawks will get a shot at SEC favorite Kentucky in New York, though the presence of a ton of Wildcat fans will likely outweigh geographic convenience in that matchup. Once again, this is a schedule designed to get Monmouth ready for the MAAC grind, which is now two games shorter. However, given the Hawks’ postseason issues, maybe a bracketed tournament would have been a wiser addition.

100. Siena Saints

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
FGCU (146) None None None College of Charleston (133)
Hofstra (132) Lehigh (163)
St. Bonaventure (84) Bucknell (128)
Robert Morris (262) Louisville (8)*
Albany (126)* Bryant (309)*
Holy Cross (247) Memphis (79)*
Vermont (89)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Bucknell (N)) and 5 losses (@Albany, @St. Bonaventure, @FGCU, @Hofstra, Vermont)

Last season, Jimmy Patsos’s Saints burst Monmouth’s NCAA bubble in the MAAC semifinals before falling to Iona in the conference title game to finish right at .500. However, in picking up just three non-league wins, Siena really pulled things together in conference play. Last fall’s biggest win came over Bucknell in Glens Falls, but the Saints will have to play the Patriot League champs in Pennsylvania this time around. And that’s just one of five potentially scary road games on Siena’s slate—highlighted by road trips to Louisville and Memphis in the Gotham Classic. But at least four of the five teams the Saints lost to on the road visit the Times-Union Center in 2017.

131. Iona Gaels

*Exempt Event: Islands Of The Bahamas Showcase

True Home Games (2) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (2) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Fairleigh Dickinson (296) None Weber State (177)* None Albany (126)
Yale (96) James Madison (173) or Syracuse (38)
Northern Kentucky (222)* Ohio (127)
Vermont (89) or NJIT (249)
Coastal Carolina (180) or St. John's (102)
Bradley (270) or Holy Cross (247)
UTSA (301)* Rhode Island (56)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Vermont) and 0 losses

Yes, the Gaels have just two home games, but that shouldn’t keep them from putting up a respectable November and December record, considering they went 8-5 last fall with only three contests scheduled for the Hynes Center. In 2016, Iona won the Great Alaska Shootout, avenging a non-bracketed loss at Nevada to do so. This year, they’ll be favored to reach the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase final, where America East power Vermont should await. Otherwise, a home date with Yale and road trips to Syracuse, St. John’s, and Rhode Island are the highlights. And if Tim Cluess’s squad can pull some upsets in those games, perhaps 2017-18 Iona can emulate the 2012 squad and steal an at-large.

138. Rider Broncs

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Hampton (280) None UC Irvine (100)* None Xavier (25)*
Hartford (324) Hampton (280) or George Washington (83)*
Hofstra (132) Northern Arizona (319)* Providence (43)
Wagner (244) Drexel (242)
Robert Morris (262)
Penn State (95)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (@Hampton, @Hartford, @Wagner, Drexel) and 0 losses

Rider’s 18 wins of a season ago were a five-win jump from 2015-16’s total—and seven non-league wins got the Broncs off to a decent start. But this slate is a little more difficult, thanks to road games against Xavier and Providence replacing ones with USF and N.C. State—and those two games were already losses. While the home matchups are winnable, the Las Vegas Invitational organizers really should have separated the Broncs from UC Irvine until that event’s visitors’ final, as those two are the strongest teams among the four in that bracket. But with Kevin Baggett’s team already opening with Hampton, that wasn’t really possible.

223. Fairfield Stags

*Exempt Event: Wright State MTE

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Penn (230) None Jacksonville (306)* None Purdue (19)
Loyola (Md.) (293) Gardner-Webb (213)* Wright State (161)*
Old Dominion (110) Wagner (244)
New Hampshire (220) Houston (72)
LIU Brooklyn (288)

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

Sydney Johnson’s Stags are the hot pick to challenge Iona and Monmouth at the top of the league this season, but this non-conference slate isn’t quite on the level of their rivals’. Road games at Purdue and Houston along with a round-robin tournament at Wright State look to be the most serious tests for Fairfield before MAAC play begins.

251. Niagara Purple Eagles

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Alabama A&M (344)* None None None St. Bonaventure (84)
UT Arlington (109) or Minnesota (64)
Western Carolina (268)* UMass (130)*
Army West Point (248) BYU (51)*
Buffalo (104) New Hampshire (220)
St. Francis (Pa.) (279) Norfolk State (261)
Cleveland State (219) Cornell (277)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Norfolk State) and 2 losses (Buffalo, St. Bonaventure (N))

The Purple Eagles’ 10 2016-17 wins rank as their highest total in Chris Casey’s four seasons in charge. And with twice as many home games on this season’s non-conference slate (six compared to three last fall), an improvement upon 2016’s non-league win total of three is quite possible. Just don’t expect much success against the road opposition, which includes Minnesota, BYU, and St. Bonaventure. A win over Alabama A&M in the Barclays Center subregional semifinal would likely set up a day two meeting with UT Arlington and with it a chance to make slight ripples nationally.

266. Manhattan Jaspers

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317) None UMKC (251)* Hofstra (132) Fordham (186)
Harvard (106) Missouri State (188) or (Garden City, N.Y.) Tulsa (87)
Morgan State (322) Georgia Southern (189)* Seton Hall (48)
Towson (152) or
Northern Illinois (184) or
Penn (230) or
FAU (291)*
Holy Cross (247)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)
La Salle (159) or
Towson (152)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Hofstra, Fordham, @St. Francis-Brooklyn) and 1 loss (@Morgan State)

Steve Masiello’s Jaspers have won just 23 games in the two seasons that followed their back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. And even though Ivy favorite Harvard visits the Bronx this season, the bulk of Manhattan’s road to redemption will unfold away from home. Other than road games at Tulsa and Seton Hall, the Jaspers biggest tests will come in the form of tournaments in Southwest Florida and Northern Ireland. Curiously enough, they could meet CAA contender Towson on the final day of both of those events.

297. Marist Red Foxes

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
Lehigh (163) None West Virginia (11)* UCF (136) UMass Lowell (316)
Army West Point (248) Nebraska (88) (or Nebraska)* The Citadel (323)
Colgate (246) (or UCF)* Murray State (153)
Stetson (325) St. John's (102) or Brown (266)
Oregon State (135) or
Missouri (150) or
Long Beach State (156)*
Army West Point (248) or
UMBC (307)
(Charleston, S.C.)

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

The MAAC’s lone bottom 50 program won just eight games a season ago and last posted a double-digit victory total in 2012-13. Like Manhattan, the Red Foxes will appear in a pair of tournaments this seasn, though Marist has a better chance of winning a two-round affair at The Citadel than it does of replicating its previous decent performances at the MAAC-hosted AdvoCare Invitational in Florida. Still, there are enough similarly-situated squads on the Foxes’ schedule to make surpassing 2016’s non-conference win total of three a real possibility.

311. Quinnipiac Bobcats

*Exempt Event: Paradise Jam

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5-6)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5-6)
Dartmouth (256) None Colorado (60)* None Liberty (289)
Brown (266) Wake Forest (66) or (or Drake, Houston,
Maine (343) Drake (260)* or Mercer)*
UMass (130) Houston (72) or Lafayette (314)
Mercer (151) or Columbia (167)
Drexel (242) Hartford (324)
(or Liberty)* Drexel (242)
Vermont (89)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Hartford, @Maine) and 4 loss (Vermont, Columbia, Drexel, @Brown)

Baker Dunleavy’s first Quinnipiac schedule isn’t all that different than Tom Moore’s final one. However, the exempt tournament should be a bit more forgiving, as the Paradise Jam doesn’t include any team on the level of the Gonzaga and Seton Hall squads the Bobcats lost to in Florida last November. However, QU drew Colorado in the quarterfinals, meaning a trip to the consolation bracket is likely on the cards. Still, the goal here will be to exceed last season’s non-conference win total of three, which turned into 10 victories overall. Looking at the names and ranks on this slate, that’s doable for a very young team that only showed flashes of its potential last season.

312. Canisius Golden Griffins

*Exempt Event: Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (7)
Youngstown State (278) None Texas State (208)* None Buffalo (104)
Dartmouth (256) Arkansas-Pine Bluff (345)* Air Force (234)*
St. Bonaventure (84) Tennessee State (226)
Elon (170) Pacific (231)*
Evansville (120)
Albany (126)
Robert Morris (262)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (@Youngstown State, Albany, Buffalo (N), @St. Bonaventure) and 1 loss (Tennessee State)

Reggie Witherspoon got the Golden Griffins back above .500 after they slipped below the break-even point in Jim Baron’s final season in Buffalo. Triumphs over local rivals Buffalo and St. Bonaventure were the highlights of last season’s 6-5 non-league mark. However, with seven road games and two neutral-site games in California as part of the Griffs’ exempt event, it’s going to be difficult for Canisius to pick up that many victories in the fall of 2017.

315. Saint Peter’s Peacocks

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

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (6)
Fairleigh Dickinson (296) None South Alabama (263) or Sacred Heart (304)* La Salle (159)*
Houston Baptist (282) Maine (343) Northwestern (61)*
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317) Lafayette (314)
Elon (170)
Seton Hall (48)
LIU Brooklyn (288)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Fairleigh Dickinson, @St. Francis-Brooklyn) and 3 losses (Lafayette, @Houston Baptist, Elon)

John Dunne’s Peacocks enter this season as the defending CollegeInsider.com Tournament champions, though you can bet Saint Peter’s wants to play in a slightly different postseason event this march. Even with only three true home games on the schedule, SPC should exceed last season’s non-conference win total of four games. Only road trips to La Salle, Northwestern, and Seton Hall (with the first two part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off) should seriously worry the Peacocks this autumn, even with last season’s mixed record against teams returning to 2017’s slate.

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