Midseason Check-Up: Who's the Most Fun to Watch?

Which teams have demanded your attention so far this season?

We're just past the halfway point of the season. Here's some stuff about stuff.

The Fun Factor is a simple mechanism designed to determine which teams will make your heart tingle. It's definitively biased -- it uses the things that I like to see in teams -- but it does a decent job at creating an illustration of which teams are full of explosiveness and excitement. The focus of the measure -- looking at a team's competitiveness, a team's desire to create pace, and a team's ability to make the scoreboard blink -- has, at its heart, a purpose of defining the indefinable: Quantifying an enjoyable experience.

Teams are still attempting to understand their existence at this point in the season, but a handful of teams have pursued reality in a way that demands attention due to their style of play and performances. The following rankings of teams on the Fun Factor scale is likely to change as the season continues to develop, but this is how things shake out at the moment:

FUN FACTOR: THE NATION'S MOST FUN TEAMS
RANK TEAM FUN FACTOR RANK TEAM FUN FACTOR
1. Albany 7.59 11. Pennsylvania 4.84
2. Fairfield 7.22 12. Johns Hopkins 4.72
3. Syracuse 7.19 13. Princeton 4.60
4. Denver 6.58 14. Rutgers 4.37
5. Loyola 6.23 15. Harvard 4.25
6. North Carolina 6.15 16. St. John's 3.80
7. Duke 6.05 17. Maryland 3.76
8. Virginia 5.51 18. Penn State 3.35
9. Cornell 5.41 19. Massachusetts 3.18
10. Notre Dame 5.08 20. Robert Morris 3.05

Some notes:

  • The least shocking aspect of this is Albany's position as the country's most watchable team. The Great Danes rank first in pace (76.48 possessions per 60 minutes of play), are rolling with an offense ranked third in adjusted offensive efficiency, are seventh in win expectation, and are embarrassing opposing goalkeepers all over the place. Team Bonkers is Team Bonkers for a reason: They bend the spectrum in their favor through unmitigated adventure. The Great Danes aren't Division I's best team, but they require the highest volume of eyeballs trained upon them.
  • Every Syracuse fan right now: "Yeah, when they have the ball." Or, alternatively, "You're drunk; pain is not pleasure." The Orange are still a hell of a team to watch, even if Syracuse is struggling relative to their potential.
  • Bryant is drawing all the heat in the Northeast Conference given the team's start to the season, but the Colonials remain the league's most watchable team. The gap between the Bulldogs and Robert Morris isn't big -- only eight ranking positions -- but the Colonials still mash the accelerator while playing at a high competitive level. Bobby Mo is a mere .500 on the season, but a solid argument can be made that the 60 minutes that they play is significantly stronger and more fascinating than the team's record.
  • Conference breakdown in the top 20: ACC: six (100 percent of the conference); Ivy: four (57 percent of the conference); Big East: three (43 percent of the conference); THUNDERDOME!: two (33 percent of the conference); America East, ECAC, Independent, Northeast, and Patriot: one. Not only are the ACC and Ivy the strongest leagues in the nation, they're also the most fun to watch based on their membership's performance so far in 2014.
  • On Maryland: Incredible team with a terrific offense, but the fifth-slowest team in the nation. Terps fans won't -- and shouldn't -- care, but Maryland is the epitome of slow, efficient death.
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