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Midseason Check-Up: Who's Overachieving, Underachieving?

Which teams are doing better or worse than what's expected of them?

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

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

I don't believe in luck. I believe that you make your own circumstances and consequences. This probably derives from my belief in the American DreamTM and that you can accomplish whatever you choose to accomplish. That's why, when thinking about teams that have differences in their actual and expected results, I think of the difference in the context of overachieving and underachieving: Teams that are beating their expectations are succeeding because they're doing something special; teams that are not meeting expectations are falling short because they're not seizing the moment. It's more than semantics; it's the assurance that fate doesn't dictate outcomes.

Looking around the nation at this point in the season it's difficult to determine which teams are absolutely underachieving and overachieving, but there's enough information in the atmosphere to understand which teams are over- and underperforming relative to their efforts on the field. Here's a table that details the top 10 and bottom 10 in terms of differences between expected and actual win percentages:

1. Colgate 7-2 5-4 +2 58. Providence 3-6 5-3 -2
2. Towson 7-2 5-4 +2 59. Pennsylvania 3-3 4-2 -1
3. Cornell 8-0 6-2 +2 60. Richmond 2-7 4-5 -2
4. Siena 5-3 3-5 +2 61. Villanova 3-5 5-3 -2
5. Mercer 4-3 2-5 +2 62. Sacred Heart 1-6 3-4 -2
6. High Point 6-3 4-5 +2 63. Monmouth 0-8 2-6 -2
7. Bryant 7-2 5-4 +2 64. Jacksonville 1-6 3-4 -2
8. Vermont 5-3 3-5 +2 65. Hobart 2-6 4-4 -2
9. Brown 5-3 3-5 +2 66. Ohio State 2-6 4-4 -2
10. St. Joseph's 6-3 4-5 +2 67. Albany 3-4 5-2 -2

Some notes:

  • There's no reason to freak out about this. The season is only half over. Teams are still smoothing their edges and there's some notable noise in the data. However, this is still a nice snapshot of teams that have earned wins above and below what's expected. That expectation, of course, is going to continue to change as the season unfolds. At the end of the year, somewhere north of 80 percent of the nation will finish within a win of their actual record. The fact that the top 10 and bottom 10 in the nation right now in difference in expected an actual win expectation are around two wins/losses off is more of a function of the year moving into its true development stage. This stuff evens out.
  • Colgate has overachieved the most so far this season, holding a difference of 28 percent between the team's actual and expected win percentage. The Raiders have absolutely embodied that overachievement, playing three one-goal games (two were wins) and two two-goal games (both wins). A couple of balls the other way and Colgate has a much different feeling around their efforts. That's living right on the edge.
  • Albany: Take your pick -- the one-goal loss to Drexel at home, the one-goal loss to Bryant at home, or the four-goal loss to Canisius. It's all there on the page and on the field for the Great Danes.
  • It's hard to say the new programs in the table -- Monmouth and Richmond -- are underachieving. They're running through the forest with a bunch of predators looking to eat them. The most important thing is that they survive. Looking at each team's profile so far this season, though, you can see the missed opportunities for each team:
    • Monmouth: The one-goal losses to Wagner (in a bazillion overtimes) and the one-goal loss to Canisius. Both games were within the Hawks' grasp.
    • Richmond: The one-goal loss to Virginia stands out, but there isn't another game that definitively stands as a could've/should've won. Maybe the loss to Holy Cross (a 9-11 setback)?
  • Keep an eye on Towson. While the Tigers are on a six-game winning streak, Towson has beaten just one team -- UMBC -- expected to win more than half their games at this point. The Tigers have dropped a bunch of teams that are potentially dangerous, but none that are exceptional in this stretch. The schedule picks up for Towson immediately, closing with Hofstra, Massachusetts, Penn State, Drexel, and Pennsylvania in consecutive games.