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Conference Realignment: Quinnipiac's Move to the MAAC Barely Moves the Meter

This shouldn't be shocking.

All kinds of stuff has happened over the last year or so through oppressive conference realignment as it relates to college lacrosse. This has likely induced some combination of eye-bleeding and head shaking in your existence, so let's try and reset all this just to get everyone up to speed:

  • Syracuse and Notre Dame are heading to the ACC, leaving the Big East.
  • Maryland is departing the ACC for parts unknown.
  • Rutgers is departing the Big East for parts unknown.
  • Loyola is departing the ECAC for the Patriot League. (Boston University is also bound for the Patriot League.)
  • Quinnipiac and Monmouth are departing the NEC for the MAAC.

Got it? Terrific. Let's all take a break for a quick drink to calm our nerves because this is probably long from over.

Once again, I turned on the computing machine this weekend to try and figure out what this latest round of conference hopscotch means in terms of which leagues became stronger and which became weaker. I'm using Pythagorean expectations as the basis of the analysis, going all the way back to 2009 and accounting for all relevant league switches. There are, however, some important notes that accompany this: I ignored the Great Western Lacrosse League; I don't account for Marquette, Boston University, or Monmouth; I don't include an analysis around a would-be Big Ten Conference; the Big East and NEC calculations, despite both of these leagues potentially disappearing from the universe, are still included and are recognized with their will-be memberships down the line as is currently known.

After re-running the analysis, this is how things turned out:

1. ACC 72.91 71.82 1.
2. Ivy 56.38 56.38 2.
3. Patriot 50.87 49.15 6. +3
4. Colonial 50.23 50.82 3. -1
5. ECAC 47.11 50.17 4. -1
6. Big East 43.07 49.96 5. -1
7. America East 42.69 42.69 7.
8. Northeast 37.40 38.91 8.
9. MAAC 34.50 33.10 9.

Exciting, right? (No.) Some quick thoughts:

  • Quinnipiac barely moves the meter with respect to altering the power difference between the Northeast Conference and the MAAC. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, Quinnipiac's move actually increases -- by seven-hundredths of a percentage point -- the strength of the NEC and decreases -- by about five-tenths of a percentage point -- the strength of the MAAC. It shouldn't be shocking, but I'll write it anyway: Other than potentially crushing the NEC into oblivion, Quinnipiac's move doesn't change the balance of power in Division I lacrosse.
  • Looking at this universally through the years -- accounting for the changes that have occurred since 2009 -- Quinnipiac and Monmouth left what has become a somewhat stronger league for the MAAC. There are ceiling barriers for Quinnipiac and Monmouth to potentially earn an NCAA Tournament bid as a conference champion in both leagues, but regardless, the strength of the NEC -- with Robert Morris, Bryant, and Mount St. Mary's -- is deeper than the strength of the MAAC -- Siena.
  • Once Monmouth starts play, I feel fairly comfortable assuming that the MAAC's overall league expectation will drop further. That's . . . that's not exciting for a conference that needs more exciting teams. Bringing Wagner under the MAAC's umbrella -- if it happens -- doesn't help the league in terms of strength (other than continuing to light the NEC on fire).
  • Who's the biggest loser in all of this so far? The Big East, and that statement has little to do with the league falling off the auto-bid map. In terms of winning expectation, no league has seen a more precipitous drop in the league's overall strength. I'm not sure whether I should be sad or take it out to the cornfield and give it the Lassie treatment.
  • Who's the biggest winner in all of this so far? Either the ACC or Patriot League, I guess. Those leagues, though, were fine before their additions and losses. These were marginal increases.