RPI – School (WLT Record)
39 – Fairfield (6-1-1)
78 – Manhattan (5-3-0)
87 – Rider (5-2-0)
95 – Niagara (3-1-2)
146 – Monmouth (5-2-0)
259 – Siena (3-4-1)
261 – Iona (3-5-0)
292 – Marist (1-4-0)
311 – Quinnipiac (1-4-0)
325 – Saint Peter’s (0-7-0)
327 – Canisius (0-7-0)
How many other conferences can boast four teams in the RPI Top 100 and three outside of the RPI Top 300? While the former is likely to change as the season rolls along, it does accurately portray the divide between the haves and have nots in this league. Fairfield looks a good bet for a title challenge with solid wins against the likes of Hartford and Stony Brook and a creditable draw with unbeaten Holy Cross. Manhattan also look improved, with a win over Ivy League side Yale the highlight. Rider’s mostly fed off weaker teams lately, but a season opening win at Seton Hall was nice feather in their cap. Niagara has also largely punched above their weight, but an expected all-conquering Monmouth side has disappointed in defeats to Delaware and Bucknell, though they also have a win against Seton Hall. The league falls off a cliff at this point. Losses to UMass-Lowell and Albany could dog Siena the whole season, while Iona also has to be longing for mid-table security after brutal defeats to Binghamton and Hartford, shipping five in each. Marist has scheduled relatively aggressively but has nonetheless been disappointing, with their sole win coming against UMass-Lowell. Quinnipiac began with four losses on the road, not scoring once but beat Vermont in their last match, hopefully a catalyst to a turnaround in the league season. Few expected Canisius would be this pitiful at 0-7-0 with just one goal scored. The same can’t be said for hopeless Saint Peter’s who had two coaches sent off in the loss to NJIT. That’s been as interesting as the season has got for the Peahens, who have conceded thirty goals in seven straight losses to open the season. In a macabre twist, the two 0-7-0 sides meet in the league opener, with a winless season a real possibility for the loser.
Long Beach State vs Wake Forest – 8:30 PM
Long Beach State comes into this rare Monday night barnburner with an erratic 3-2-2 record that features a draw with Georgetown and win over Georgia that may not be enough to get it into the field as an at-large bid if they need one come November. The Beach would normally fancy their chances of having more opportunities to build their non-conference resume, but the likes of Monday’s opponent as well as UCF and Santa Clara in the weeks to come don’t exactly hold as much sway this season as they have in recent years past. That aside, LBSU will probably be happy to just get back out on the pitch after crashing to defeat on Saturday night in Provo against BYU. The Beach looked second best for much of the match against the WCC side and struggled to contain powerful center forward Ashley Hatch, who had four shots on goal and a pair of goals in the match. It’s certainly arguable as to whether Wake Forest has anyone akin to Hatch, but they have the overall athleticism to give LBSU problems on the day. At the same time, the duo of Ashley Gonzales and Mimi Rangel can cause problems themselves and will be looking to get back on track on Monday night.
Wake Forest need every win they can get with league play looming. The Demon Deacons currently sit at an unflattering 2-4-0 and wouldn’t even be in the discussion for an at-large bid if they hadn’t upset Georgetown last weekend. Losses to James Madison and UNC Wilmington put Wake on the brink of irrelevance in the big picture until that win over the Hoyas. The Demon Deacons didn’t play badly against UCLA on Friday and were the first to score against the Bruins in 2014. Still, the defense remains a major worry, with the club having conceded two or more goals in four of their last five. That Georgetown win looks like an outlier, and while Wake has been scoring, they probably haven’t been scoring enough to overcome a chronically leaky defense. Riley Ridgik has been solid, with four goals, including a peach on Friday, but there’s been next to nothing from everyone else. “Next to nothing” means just four goals from non-Ridgik players, with nobody having netted more than one thus far. You suspect Wake wants to keep this one low scoring, but LBSU’s offense didn’t exactly set Provo on fire on Saturday. Regardless of that, the ACC side really needs this one to keep themselves in the thick of the at-large bid hunt.
Total Shot Ratio has been used as one of many new attempts at using advanced (or in this case, not so advanced) metrics to try and analyze the game. This Grantland article from a year ago explains the concept better than I can in a few words.
Additionally, I’ve added a “true” total shot ratio measure that just captures the ratio of shots on goal to shots on goal conceded as another measure. Be advised though: the sample size on this is really small at the moment (one or two games). It won’t get massively better either, even with leagues like the Big Ten that play a full slate of league games.
The current plan is to analyze total shot ratio for league games only for the Big Eight conferences week-by-week. I’ll do a one-time analysis for smaller leagues if I have the time before each conference tournament when applicable.
Total Shot Ratio
0.68 – Penn State
0.62 – Illinois
0.58 – Wisconsin
0.55 – Minnesota
0.53 – Nebraska
0.52 – Michigan
0.52 – Rutgers
0.48 – Iowa
0.48 – Maryland
0.48 – Ohio State
0.43 – Purdue
0.41 – Indiana
0.40 – Northwestern
0.34 – Michigan State
“True” Total Shot Ratio (shots on goal only)
0.88 – Penn State
0.66 – Maryland
0.57 – Nebraska
0.57 – Wisconsin
0.56 – Minnesota
0.53 – Illinois
0.53 – Iowa
0.52 – Michigan
0.45 – Ohio State
0.37 – Northwestern
0.35 – Indiana
0.35 – Michigan State
0.35 – Purdue
0.33 – Rutgers
America East (1) – UMBC
AAC (2) – UConn, UCF
Atlantic 10 (1) – La Salle
ACC (8) – Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Boston College
Atlantic Sun (1) – Florida Gulf Coast
Big XII (4) – Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma
Big East (2) – DePaul, Georgetown
Big Sky (1) – Portland State
Big South (1) – Liberty
Big Ten (7) – Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State
Big West (2) – Long Beach State, UC Irvine
Colonial (1) – Hofstra
Conference USA (1) – Rice
Horizon (1) – Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Ivy (1) – Harvard
MAAC (1) – Fairfield
MAC (1) – Eastern Michigan
Missouri Valley (1) – Illinois State
Mountain West (1) – San Diego State
NEC (1) – Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley (1) – Morehead State
Pac-12 (9) – UCLA, Stanford, USC, Cal, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Utah
Patriot (1) – Boston University
SEC (6) – Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Auburn
Southern (2) – Furman, Samford
Southland (1) – Stephen F. Austin
SWAC (1) – Alabama State
Summit (1) – Denver
Sun Belt (1) – Georgia Southern
WCC (1) – Pepperdine
WAC (1) – Seattle
Also Considered (alphabetically) – Colgate, Texas
An enthusiastic crowd of 1,420 – including the Mighty Sound of Maryland pep band, which played throughout the match – showed up at Ludwig Field for Maryland’s inaugural home match in Big 10 competition. The crowd would not be disappointed, as the Terrapins women downed the NSCAA #25-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 2-0.
Kentucky vs Pepperdine – 12:00 PM
Defense is not likely to be the order of the day in Lexington at High Noon on Sunday, as these two high powered offenses meet in a pivotal match for both. The Wildcats likely need this one more though, as their non-conference resume is hilariously hollow at the moment. The best win the club has right now may be it’s away victory over Seattle, which is an ominous sign with SEC play looming. The memory that most still have of Kentucky this season is the club laying an egg on opening night in a 4-1 defeat to Washington. Since, the defense has conceded just one goal in five matches, but the level of opposition hasn’t exactly been stellar. While the defense will surely be tested with Lynn Williams running at them, the Wildcats should have the ability to cause problems of their own. Arin Gilliland will, of course, be the focus and already has a mind-blowing thirty-one shots this season, leading the club with three goals and five assists. The development of the rest of the squad will remain vital though, and San Diego transfer Micaela Dooley is showing signs of becoming a nice auxiliary threat with three goals and four assists thus far. This was a UK team that entered the 2014 season highly tipped and with much potential. Cashing in on some of that potential on Sunday could be key to their hopes of getting to prove themselves in November.
Pepperdine will conclude a four match road swing on Sunday afternoon and will be looking for their second straight win after going through a weekend in Hawaii without a win. Granted, the Waves were facing Pac-12 contender Washington State and juggernaut UCLA, but it still sapped a bit of the club’s momentum after a furious start. A 2-0 win against Xavier on Thursday helped ease minds, but the big prize is on Sunday for Pepperdine. Tim Ward’s side already has wins over Maryland and North Carolina, and a subsequent win over Kentucky would surely boost their odds of a national seed come November. Gilliland’s gunner ways are one thing, but Lynn Williams has been as trigger happy for UK thus far, with thirty-seven shots to her name. The speedster’s three goals through seven matches might be a little concerning, but it might be the norm if the Waves can’t crank up some other offense besides their senior star. The defense has still managed to keep five clean sheets though, including the aforementioned wins against UNC and Maryland, which should give them some confidence at slowing UK down. If they can’t, Pepperdine might just have to outgun them, and betting against them being able to have a chance to do just that with Williams doesn’t seem very smart.
Stanford vs Florida – 10:30 PM
Devotees of short passing will probably be rabid in anticipation of this dream match between two of the nation’s most aesthetically pleasing programs in a match that could have serious ramifications towards national seeding down the line come NCAA Tournament time. Stanford had looked like the smooth passing juggernaut of old with wins over North Carolina, Duke, and Portland to start out the season before a big time showdown with Notre Dame in Palo Alto last Sunday. Though the defense held yet another club without a goal, the Card couldn’t make the most of their chances in front of goal, putting up a bagel for the first time in 2014. Stanford still had opportunities, with Chioma Ubogagu putting up three shots on goal, but the Irish were undaunted in being the first to shut down the Stanford machine this year. The path doesn’t really get easier from this point, with Savannah Jordan on Friday arguably the best forward the club has faced to this point, while the likes of Pamela Begic and Havana Solaun will also test the Card. But given Florida’s marauding full-backs, there’ll be space to exploit down the wings, which should suit Ubogagu and Ryan Walker-Hartshorn just fine. With the Gators a potential rival for a #1 seed, a win by Stanford here would be a big step in grabbing such a seed in November.
Some had likely written Florida off for a #1 seed after a loss to Oklahoma seemed to portend very bad things for the Gators. But the Sooners have not wilted with time, and Florida recovered well enough by pounding Oklahoma State a few days later before the huge win over Florida State last Friday. Pamela Begic may have put in a star making performance against the Noles, scoring the opener before dishing up the assist on Betsy Middleton’s eventual game winning goal ten minutes later. It was a needed contribution considering the club didn’t get a single shot on goal from Savannah Jordan or Havana Solaun, though the former did assist on Begic’s goal. The defense also held up fairly well all things considered, with the club keeping Jamia Fields and Cheyna Williams in check, though they were also one of an increasing number of teams that couldn’t keep Dagny Brynjarsdottir off the board. Stanford poses less of a “bull in a China shop” threat than FSU’s Icelandic wizard, but the athleticism and passing ability of the Card’s attackers could have the Gators on their heels at times. This feels like a game that could be replayed in December, and Florida will be doing their very best to win and gain the upper hand in seeding that could send any potential rematch to Gainesville in a few months.
Texas A&M vs Florida Gulf Coast – 8:00 PM
Florida Gulf Coast’s suddenly relevant win over Arizona keeps this from being do-or-die in the most literal sense for the Eagles’ at-large bid hopes, their odds of getting such a bid decline in a big way if they can’t get something from this showdown against what’s likely to be a very motivated Texas A&M side. The Eagles would occasionally get a boost with their earlier win over Miami (FL), but the Hurricanes look feeble this season, meaning that likely boost is probably going to have to come this weekend when the club faces both A&M and South Carolina in succession. FGCU’s defense hasn’t exactly been a lockdown group against offenses from top clubs, which has to be a worry against an explosive offense like the Aggies’. The main attacking threat is as it was last season with FGCU, in the form of sophomore Tabby Tindell, who has raced out to six goals in five games on just twelve shots. Shannen Wacker is another to watch after putting up five assists this season, while ex-Florida player Paulina Speckmaier is the only other Eagle with more than a goal thus far with three. If FGCU gets into a run-and-gun match with the Aggies, they’ll likely lose. Badly. But if they can keep it close for a while, they may just stand a chance of getting a priceless result.
Texas A&M is likely still smarting after a weekend without a win in Arizona. The defense is creaking after three straight games without a clean sheet, and the Aggies gave up two goals in each of their two games against the Arizona Pac-12 schools last weekend. While Jordan Day remains sidelined, the club got boosted by the returns of Karlie Mueller, Bianca Brinson, and Mikaela Harvey from injury last weekend. Clearly though, the group needs a little more time to gel as a unit if they’re to top the better clubs they’ll meet on their schedule. The good news is that the offense continues to roll in many regards. Brinson netted a brace off the bench against Arizona, while Kelley Monogue had a goal and an assist last weekend to continue her scorching start to the new season. Shea Groom had just a single shot on goal in the two games and no points though, so the club will be hoping she can get back on track, as she’s vital to their hopes of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Realistically, this is a game A&M should win comfortably. But last weekend showed nothing’s automatic, and anything other than a decisive win against the A-Sun side might start the grumbling all over again from an impatient fanbase.
Making definitive conclusions on the Big Ten’s non-conference slate isn’t easy considering that though the league is (almost) done with non-league play, their opponents may still have two or three weeks of non-league games themselves left. It means there’s a whole lot of volatility left in where each club’s non-conference RPI is going to end up at regular season’s end. As it stands though, it’s looking like a “big two” of Penn State and Wisconsin and twelve other teams who probably aren’t going to embarrass the brand.
Despite the league having the second best non-conference winning percentage at this point, I’m worried the league is more very good across the board than great in the top half. You might get eleven or twelve teams in the final RPI Top 100 but perhaps only five or six NCAA Tournament bids if some of the league’s clubs can’t grab results against PSU or the Badgers.
(Note: Penn State still has a non-conference game on 09/23 against Bucknell.)
Current RPI – 3
Best Result – 4-3 win at Duke
Worst Result – By default, the 1-0 loss to North Carolina
Chris’ Best Guess % At an NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid – 100%
Penn State looks like a top eight team and plays like a top eight team, but do the Nittany Lions have the chops for a top national seed when all is said and done? They certainly aren’t going to be harmed by the loss to North Carolina, but do you really think West Virginia or Duke’s a top ten team? If they mow down the Big Ten, like they’re capable of, they may well get that #1 seed. If they get clipped a few times though, they might slide down to the #2 line…or further depending on who those dropped points go to.
There’ll probably be a few of these updates throughout the college season before the big update at the end.