Metro Atlantic Conference Tournament Preview
This is one of the more exciting conference tournaments every year. Upsets galore and the atmosphere is excellent. The MAAC has been dominated in recent years by Iona, but the league is as open as it’s ever been this year.
2018 Champion: Iona
1-seed Iona Gaels 14-15 (12-6)
Every year you cannot discount Tim Cluess’s team. They could have the worst record in the entire conference and you’d still be a fool to count them out. They have won 4 of the past 6 titles including the last 3. High scoring offense is the name of the game for the Gaels, expect them to get up and down the floor.
2-seed Canisius Golden Griffins 14-16 (11-7)
In one of the few games of MAAC basketball I was able to watch this season, I saw Canisius erase a 6-point lead with under 2 minutes to play and end Rider’s 17-game home winning streak. The Golden Griffins have a knack for these close games with their average margin of victory in conference play being 4.3 points. If they can shoot the 3 at a higher clip they will be dangerous.
3-seed Quinnipiac Bobcats 16-13 (11-7)
Baker Dunleavy has done a really nice job in a short amount of time at Quinnipiac. Cameron Young is a stud and the offense revolves around him. When he’s on, the Bobcats are a tough team to beat. If Quinnipiac can find secondary scoring and a string together some defensive stops, they will be tough to beat.
4-seed Rider Broncs 16-14 (11-7)
Rider was the preseason favorite to win the MAAC and they really only played like it early in the conference schedule. They opened MAAC play 5-0 before losing 6 of their next 8. This is as good a team as you will see in this conference and they have a strong starting 5. Think of them as a Buffalo lite.
5-seed Siena Saints 16-15 (11-7)
Year one under Jamion Christian and this team is already competing for a conference title. They like to slow the game down and grind games out. Which is one of two styles we have seen played in the MAAC this year. Jalen Pickett is good enough to carry this team to a conference title if he needs to, he scores, distributes, and plays strong defense.
6-seed Monmouth Hawks 11-20 (10-8)
It is a testament to the resilience of this Monmouth team for playing as well as they have in conference play. People might not know or remember that Monmouth was one of the final teams in America without a win. This team plays some of the best defense in the entire MAAC and if they lock down they can beat anyone in this league.
7-seed Manhattan Jaspers 10-20 (8-10)
The Jaspers, like Monmouth above, really found their game when conference play started. The reason I think this team could be a sleeper is their style of play. Slow, methodical possessions and they run an efficient offense. That is a recipe for an upset in a single elimination tournament.
8-seed Marist Red Foxes 12-18 (7-11)
Marist is turning it on at the right time of year, they won 4 of their final 6 games in February. Brian Parker is the key to the tournament run. If he can limit his turnovers and keep scoring the ball, the Red Foxes will have a chance to dance.
9-seed St. Peter’s Peacocks 9-21 (6-12)
Year one under Shaheen Holloway did not go as well as some had hoped in Jersey City, but give him some time to recruit and things should look up. Holloway was a guard in college and excels at developing young guards, just look at Davauhnte Turner. Up over 6 points per contest in coring this year. The Peacocks need Turner to play his best ball if they want to win this tournament.
10-seed Fairfield Stags 9-21 (6-12)
Outside of their win over Iona at home, Fairfield has not registered a league win over anyone in the top half of the standings. The Stags aren’t too bad defensively and like Monmouth, if they can lockdown, they will have a chance to win a few games.
11-seed Niagara Purple Eagles 13-18 (6-12)
Niagara likes to score and they actually shoot the ball pretty well from the field compared to the rest of the league. They have three guys that can carry them offensively and unlike most of the league, the scorers are their forwards. Dominate the glass and Niagara can steal a few wins.
St. Peter’s over Marist
Manhattan over Fairfield
Monmouth over Niagara
Iona over St. Peter’s
Canisius over Manhattan
Rider over Siena
Monmouth over Quinnipiac
Iona over Rider
Canisius over Monmouth
Iona over Canisius