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Ranking the NEC’s Non-Conference Schedules for 2018-19

One of the nation’s weaker conferences generally has a collection of non-league schedules to match. There’s one notable exception, however.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-LIU Brooklyn vs. Radford Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2018-19 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Warning: Graphics and tables may not appear optimally when viewing on a mobile device.

Ranking The Teams

After landing on line 15 from 2009 to 2011, the NEC’s NCAA representative has found itself on line 16 in each of the six tournaments since—with each of those teams needing to play in Dayton. Making matters worse, only Robert Morris in 2015 and 2017’s Mount St. Mary’s team made it to the Round of 64. And with every NEC member ranked outside of the top 200, with 40 percent finding themselves in the bottom 50 in the four-year ranking, it’s likely that streak will continue for the nation’s 30th-ranked conference in 2019.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Wagner -1.968298 206 244
Mount St. Mary's -2.9702985 238 236
St. Francis (Pa.) -3.4612585 253 279
Robert Morris -4.241702 272 262
LIU Brooklyn -4.374091 275 288
Fairleigh Dickinson -5.051288 293 296
Sacred Heart -5.9118585 306 304
St. Francis Brooklyn -7.3051043 325 317
Bryant -8.37061 334 309
Central Connecticut State -9.399195 341 346
Average -5.30537038 284.3 288.1
Conference Rank 30th of 32 (30th in 2017-18)

KenPom Gaps for 2018-19

Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
9 St. Francis (Pa.) 253 168 85
63 Central Connecticut 341 304 37
76 Fairleigh Dickinson 293 263 30
108 Bryant 334 317 17
131 Robert Morris 272 264 8
135 Wagner 206 200 6
184 St. Francis Brooklyn 325 328 -3
203 LIU Brooklyn 275 282 -7
248 Sacred Heart 306 327 -21
341 Mount St. Mary's 238 324 -86

But KenPom has a glimmer of hope in its 2018-19 preseason numbers, as NEC favorite St. Francis (Pa.) is projected to outperform its four-year record by a whopping 85 places, which would be good enough to get the Red Flash into that metric’s top 175. If their NET numbers reflect similar results, that could get St. Francis on to line 15 if it secures both NEC titles. However, even though five other league teams are projected to improve upon their recent performances, their increases are still likely to give them metrics that would drive them to seed line 16 if they end up representing the conference in March Madness.

Ranking The Schedules

The 30th-ranked conference according to the four-year rankings also holds down the 30th spot in the schedule rankings. Even though St. Francis (Pa.) has a top 60 schedule according to the super average, just two other NEC members find themselves in the top 200. And with three of the weaker schedules outside of the top 300, it’s not surprising that the Red Flash’s slate doesn’t do much to bolster the conference’s standing nationally.

This season’s NEC non-conference slate are worse than those of 2017-18, as last season’s leagued average ranked in the lower 20s in most cases, not the near 30 range like this season.

Note: The number of asterisks (*) represent the number of pending games on a team’s schedule.

Schedule Rankings

Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
60 St. Francis (Pa.) 4.1032425 56 4.1032425 62 4.1032425 79 4.1032425 47
135 Robert Morris 2.583601112 126 2.583601112 136 2.583601112 156 2.583601112 120
176 Mount St. Mary's 1.923107446 166 1.923107446 177 1.923107446 188 1.923107446 157
244 Wagner 0.7907534409 243 0.7907534409 244 0.7907534409 252 0.7907534409 238
248 Central Connecticut 0.7085003252 246 0.7085003252 247 0.7085003252 258 0.7085003252 242
262 Bryant 0.5436901273 256 0.5436901273 259 0.5436901273 268 0.5436901273 254
288 Fairleigh Dickinson -0.1449913646 285 -0.1449913646 289 -0.1449913646 294 -0.1449913646 282
304 Sacred Heart -0.5821676019 297 -0.5821676019 304 -0.5821676019 309 -0.5821676019 299
326 St. Francis Brooklyn* -0.7116076292 308 -0.9855075808 325 -0.8064225423 320 -1.164592619 328
343 LIU Brooklyn* -1.399903782 336 -1.656845527 342 -1.596042483 342 -1.717648571 342
238.6 Average 0.7814224574 231.9 0.7283382877 238.5 0.752327096 246.6 0.7043494795 230.9
30/32 Conference Rank 29 of 32 29 of 32 30 of 32 28 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Just two NEC members, Wagner and LIU Brooklyn under-scheduled this season, with the other eight over-scheduling to varying degrees. While St. Francis Brooklyn, Sacred Heart, and Fairleigh Dickinson build more modest slates that remained close to their four-year rankings, St. Francis (Pa.) and Robert Morris, among others, were far more ambitious.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
5 St. Francis Brooklyn 325 324 1
11 Sacred Heart 306 303 3
22 Fairleigh Dickinson 293 287 6
94 Wagner 206 243 -37
146 Mount St. Mary's 238 175 63
151 LIU Brooklyn 275 341 -66
166 Bryant 334 261 73
216 Central Connecticut 341 247 94
275 Robert Morris 272 135 137
317 St. Francis (Pa.) 253 60 193
140.3 Average (7/32 conf.) 284.3 237.6 46.7

Home, Power 7 Road, And 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 25 16

While the NEC’s 10 teams will collectively play five more home games than they did in 2017-18, all of those will come against non-D1 opponents. Schedule quality also dipped overall, thanks to a slight drop in Power 7 road games—from 29 to 25.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 16 0
America East 15 0
MAAC 13 2
Patriot 13 0
Big East 9 0
Ivy 8 1
ACC 7 0
A 10 5 0
Atlantic Sun 5 0
Big Ten 5 0
MEAC 5 0
CAA 3 0
Horizon 3 0
Pac-12 3 0
WCC 2 0
SWAC 1 1
American Athletic 1 0
Big South 1 0
C-USA 1 0
MAC 1 0
MVC 1 0
OVC 1 0
WAC 1 0
Big 12 0 0
Big Sky 0 0
Big West 0 0
MW 0 0
SEC 0 0
SoCon 0 0
Southland 0 0
Summit 0 0
Sun Belt 0 0

Non-D1 opponents displaced the now-second-placed America East at the top of this table for 2018-19, with the top four remaining stable. However, the Big East replaced the ACC as the fifth-placed—and top Power 7—conference. Nine conferences are absent from NEC slates this season, compared to 11 in 2017-18.

The America East’s UMass Lowell will play five games against NEC teams, though the River Hawks will meet Sacred Heart twice (once at a neutral-site). Hartford, NJIT , St. John’s, and Saint Peter’s will all play a quartet of league members. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart has four America East (and three Patriot League) teams on its schedule, with Bryant lining up four Ivy League contests.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 0 16 0 16 1.6 0
Quad 2 0 12 0 12 1.2 0
Quad 3 1 18 1 20 2 0
Quad 4 27 23 6 56 5.6 4
Non-D1 16 0 0 16 1.6
Total 44 69 7 120
Average 4.4 6.9 0.7 12
Percentage 0.3666666667 0.575 0.05833333333
Q1 1-30 1-75 1-50
Q2 31-75 76-135 51-100
Q3 76-160 136-240 101-200
Q4 161-353 241-353 201-353

Not only will 16 of the NEC’s 44 home non-conference games feature non-Division I teams, just one of the remaining 28 includes an opponent ranked in the top 160, the dividing line between Quadrants 3 and 4. And things don’t really improve all that much when looking at games away from home. Even though NEC clubs will play 28 top 135 road games, 41 away contests feature teams from outside of the top 135. Meanwhile, the conference won’t play a single top 100 opponent (according to the four-year ranking) at a neutral-site. Thus, thanks to these scheduling difficulties, the NEC looks destined to spend yet another season ranked near the bottom of Division I.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Super Average Schedule Ranking. The number in front of an opponent name is its Four-Year Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

60. St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (On-Campus Only)

True Home Games (4) True Road Games (7)
True Home Games (4) True Road Games (7)
327. Morgan State 89. Buffalo
(Non-D1) Bloomsburg 31. UCLA*
267. Niagara 5. North Carolina*
(Non-D1) Franciscan 49. Virginia Tech
320. American
280. Delaware
188. Lehigh

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (Franciscan, American, @Niagara, Lehigh) and 0 losses

Rob Krimmel’s Red Flash are the NEC favorite for the second season in a row, though they fell two games short of Wagner in 2018’s conference race. Even though St. Francis is technically participating in an exempt event this season, as the Flash will visit both UCLA and North Carolina for the Las Vegas Invitational, they didn’t schedule the full four games, likely because that event had troubles building a proper visitors’ bracket this season. Those two road trips, along with visits to 2018 NCAA teams Buffalo and Virginia Tech and Patriot League contender Lehigh, boost this schedule above the rest of the NEC.

135. Robert Morris Colonials

*Exempt Event: Hall of Fame Classic (On-Campus Only)

True Home Games (5) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (5) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) Mount Aloysius 52. USC*
349. Mississippi Valley State* 160. Missouri State*
308. Youngstown State 319. Stetson*
226. Siena 8. Purdue
(Non-D1) Hood 263. Drexel
165. Canisius
177. Rider
14. Louisville

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (@Youngstown State, Rider, Drexel) and 2 losses (@Siena, Canisius)

For the second season in a row, Andy Toole’s Colonials saw a slight uptick in wins, though RMU is still aiming to reach the heights 2012-2015. Last season, the Colonials were streaky in non-conference—losing three, winning four, losing one, winning two, then finally dropping their last three toughest contests before NEC play began. Even with three power conference road games, Robert Morris should better last season’s 6-7 non-conference mark, thanks to the addition of two non-D1 home games and winnable road contests at Drexel and Stetson.

176. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

*Exempt Event: Maryland MTE

True Home Games (4) True Road Games (9)
True Home Games (4) True Road Games (9)
342. N.C. A&T* 59. N.C. State
188. Lehigh 141. Hofstra*
(Non-D1) Wilson 145. Marshall*
(Non-D1) St. Mary's (Md.) 32. Maryland*
327. Morgan State
304. Loyola (Md.)
93. St. John's
320. American
84. Minnesota

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Loyola (Md.), @American) and 2 losses (Morgan State, @Lehigh)

Dan Engelstad enters his first season in Emmitsburg with an inexperienced roster, so don’t expect the Mountaineers to replicate the 18-14 record of Jamion Christian’s final campaign. And with nine road games, including four power contests and visit to C-USA champ Marshall), it’s going to be difficult for the Mount to even equal last season’s 6-7 non-conference mark.

244. Wagner Seahawks

No Exempt Event

True Home Games (5) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (5) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) SUNY Cortland 37. Seton Hall
261. NJIT 307. UMass Lowell
177. Rider 215. Fairfield
(Non-D1) New Rochelle 320. American
302. Hartford 93. St. John's
111. Saint Joseph's

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (@NJIT, American, @Hartford, Fairfield, UMass Lowell) and 2 losses (@Rider, @Seton Hall)

For the third season in a row, the Seahawks had their hearts broken in the NEC Tournament. So, Bashir Mason’s team, which won 23 for the second time in three years in 2017-18, will try again. And with two non-D1 games and five sub-200 contests, Wagner might be able to equal last season’s 7-4 non-conference mark, which would put the Seahawks in decent position for some sort of postseason bid with another strong in-conference performance.

248. Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

*Exempt Event: Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
307. UMass Lowell 247. Austin Peay* 302. Hartford
(Non-D1) Pine Manor 350. Florida A&M* 68. Georgetown*
(Non-D1) Penn State-Wilkes-Barre 208. Loyola Marymount*
342. N.C. A&T
49. Virginia Tech
50. Providence
340. Maine
125. Oregon State

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (N.C. A&T, Maine, @UMass Lowell) and 1 loss (@Hartford)

The Blue Devils saw their win total jump from six to 14 in Donyell Marshall’s second season in charge, with half of those victories coming in non-league play. And even though CCSU will play four power conference road games and travel to the West Coast twice and to Jamaica for its exempt event, matching or exceeding last season’s seven non-conference wins is possible thanks to the two non-D1 games and six contests scheduled against teams ranked outside of the top 240.

262. Bryant Bulldogs

No Exempt Event

True Home Games (5) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
183. Saint Peter's 256. Seattle # 48. Rhode Island
136. Yale # - Kent, Wash. 227. Navy
239. New Hampshire 282. Brown
302. Hartford 200. Columbia
290. Dartmouth 56. Iowa

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@Hartford) and 5 losses (Navy, Brown, @Yale, @New Hampshire, @Dartmouth)

The Bulldogs won just three games in Tim O’Shea’s final season, but at least Jared Grasso has some returning talent to help speed the rebuilding process along. Bryant won just one non-league game a season ago—on the road, incredibly. And with two more home games on this year’s slate, the Bulldogs will have a shot to improve upon that total.

288. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

*Exempt Event: Hub City Classic

True Home Games (6) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (6) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) Queens College* 167. Rutgers*
(Non-D1) NYIT* 105. Princeton
312. Lafayette 50. Providence
265. Army West Point 277. Holy Cross
261. NJIT 175. UMass
183. Saint Peter's 285. USF

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Holy Cross) and 4 losses (Princeton, @Saint Peter’s, @Rutgers, @NJIT)

Since reaching the 2016 NCAAs, Greg Herenda’s Knights have lost 13 more games than they’ve won, while recording a 5-17 mark in non-league games in 2016 and 2017. While there are plenty of winnable games on this season’s schedule, particularly at home, the road trips will challenge FDU. And that’s true even with two of the Power 7’s weakest squads, Rutgers and South Florida, featured.

304. Sacred Heart Pioneers

*Exempt Event: Brown Bears Classic

True Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
True Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (8)
(Non-D1) Western New England* 265. Army West Point* 277. Holy Cross
302. Hartford 307. UMass Lowell* 282. Brown*
307. UMass Lowell* 321. Binghamton
121. Boston College
312. Lafayette
290. Dartmouth
37. Seton Hall
93. St. John's

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (@UMass Lowell, Dartmouth, Lafayette) and 5 losses (Holy Cross, @Boston College, @St. John’s, @Hartford, Binghamton)

Anthony Latina enters his sixth season on the Pioneers’ bench coming off a 10-win season and having never led SHU to a winning mark. This schedule, featuring eight road games (three against Power 7 teams expected to contend for the postseason) and eight returning opponents from a season ago, likely won’t help the Pioneers in their quest to better last season’s 5-8 non-conference mark. Brown‘s exempt tournament, featuring three similarly-situated squads, will good early measuring stick for Sacred Heart.

326. St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers

*Exempt Event: Fort Myers Tip-Off (Visitors’ Bracket)

True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) True Road Games (6-7)
True Home Games (5) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) True Road Games (6-7)
(Non-D1) Medgar Evers 259. IUPUI* 121. Boston College*
(Non-D1) St. Joseph's-Brooklyn 336. Grambling State 113. Richmond*
307. UMass Lowell (or Niagara)* 312. Lafayette
183. Saint Peter's 267. Niagara
244. Manhattan (or Grambling State)*
345. Presbyterian
261. NJIT
93. St. John's
St. Francis Brooklyn

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 0 wins and 2 losses (@Manhattan, @Saint Peter’s)

In 2018, the Terriers once again failed to reach their first NCAA Tournament, with Glenn Braica’s squad recording 13 victories—though that was a nine-win improvement over 2016-17. Unfortunately for St. Francis, just three of its victories came during non-conference play, and two of those were over non-D1 squads. Though this schedule features a pair of power conference road trips, there are nine potential wins here, in theory anyway. The Terriers’ trip to Niagara for the Fort Myers Tip-Off’s subregional provides them with an early chance at some hardware that could serve as a launching pad for the Brooklyn club.

343. LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds

*Exempt Event: Belfast Basketball Classic (Samson Bracket)

True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (4) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (6)
(Non-D1) New Rochelle 137. Albany* 215. Fairfield
282. Brown 290. Dartmouth or 142. San Francisco*
261. NJIT 322. Marist* 201. Milwaukee*
321. Binghamton 183. Saint Peter's
180. Stony Brook
232. Fordham

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (New Rochelle, Stony Brook, @Binghamton) and 5 losses (@Fordham, @Brown, @NJIT, Fairfield (N), Saint Peter’s (N))

This will be the last season for the Blackbirds in the NEC, as LIU’s Brooklyn and C.W. Post campuses will be combining their athletic programs—complete with a new nickname and school colors—just in time for the 2019-20 academic year. Derek Kellogg’s first season in charge ended with an NCAA bid and First Four loss to Radford. His second starts with a non-league schedule filled with familiar names and the absence of a Power 7 road game. However, the Blackbirds will still play eight games away from the Steinberg Center, including two in Northern Ireland as part of LIU’s exempt tournament. And those travels will make it difficult for Kellogg’s squad to improve upon its 5-8 non-conference mark of a season ago.

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