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MAAC Basketball Tournament
Preview and Predictions
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Menís Basketball Tournament may
not rank with the ACC Tournament or Big East Tournament as ďmust seeĒ
television, but it is very important. The winner of the tournament will have a
coveted bid to the Big Dance. Several teams are in with a shot. The most likely
winners include Siena, Fairfield, Iona, St. Peters, Rider, and Niagara. Cellar
dwellers Canisius, Loyala (MD), Manhatten, and Marist would have to harness
their inner George Mason to have a shot.
The most likely winner of the MAAC Conference Tournament is the Siena Saints. They own a very impressive 17-1 record in the MAAC, but are only 24-6 overall. They donít own a marquee non conference win so they will have to make an impressive run in this tournament, and might even have to win to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
Forwards Ryan Rossiter and Alex Franklin combine to average 30.1 PPG and 18.6 RPG for the Saints. Guards Edwin Ubiles and Clarence Jackson provide 15.2 and 14.0 PPG, respectively. Siena is very strong all around and only lost one time in conference play for a reason. Although they lost just one time in MAAC play, they werenít blowing most teams out. Absolutely anything can happen this time of the year. To put it simply, itís called March Madness for a reason!
The Fairfield Stags finished second in the MAAC with a record of 13-5 and 20-9 overall. They played Siena strong both times, and lost by just two points on the road in their second meeting. The Stags dispatched Iona 71-54 on 2/24 and ended the year with an OT victory over Niagara. They seem to be putting things together. Freshman Derek Needham has been pivotal at G putting up 15.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. Senior Forward Anthony Johnson is close to averaging a double-double with 15.6 PPG and 9.9 RPG. It would be no surprise to see the Stags win the MAAC Tournament.
The Iona Gaels will take on Niagara in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. They scored a narrow 63-60 victory over Niagara in their first meeting, but beat them handily 64-47 the second time. Iona should expect a better game from the Purple Eagles this time around. Niagara has come on very strongly in the latter half of the year, and they are the only team to have defeated Siena in conference play this year. They will rely on senior G Tyrone Lewis and swingman Bilal Ben to provide most of the scoring. Iona is a deep team that spreads the scoring around, but sophomore Scott Macado leads the team in scoring at 12.4 PPG. Either of these teams could make a deep run in this tournament.
The St. Peters Peacocks and Rider Broncs will meet in the first round. They met twice in the regular season with both teams winning once. The Broncs have really fallen off in the second half of the year. They were blasted by Siena 80-54 on 2/26. G Ryan Thompson leads the team in scoring at 16.9 PPG. St. Peters ended the year with a narrow loss to Iona. Wesley Jenkins leads the team in scoring at 14.1 PPG. The winner of this game is likely to be cannon fodder for one of the higher seeds.
Siena is going to be very tough in the MAAC Tournament. They have an excellent all around team with strong guard play and an interior presence. They ended the year 17-1 in the conference for a reason. If they were to stumble then we believe a resurgent Niagara could get the job done. Fairfield has also proved they can show up in big games. Donít miss the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Menís Basketball Tournament starting on March 5!
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