MAAC Tournament: Monmouth vs Canisius Prediction
Monmouth vs Canisius Preview
Before the MAAC Tournament started, I was quoted saying this field would be filled with tight games, upsets and parity at its finest. That is exactly what we have seen so far–case in point, No. 6 seed Monmouth taking down No.3 Quinnipiac last night 98-92. That victory gives them a date in the semifinals with No.2 seed Canisius, as they needed as late second half comeback to force overtime and eventually defeat No.7 Manhattan 69-65, on Friday.
The Hawks are in the semifinals for the fourth time in the last six seasons, thanks to a whopping seven players in double figures against the Bobcats. Mustapha Traore scored a career-high 19 points as this game was back-and-forth throughout. In a game of runs, Monmouth was able to get hot for a 14-0 stretch in the second half before ballooning the lead to double figures with two minutes to play. They were able to escape a late Quinnipiac run to advance.
For Canisius, they are lucky to have advanced. Down 12 points in the second half it looked as if the team was going to be bounced in their first tournament game in back-to-back seasons, but maybe as an omen: Jibreel Faulkner plays his best games against Manhattan. The senior has two 20-point games in his career, both coming this season, against the Jaspers.
Another oddity was Jalanni White‘s play. The sophomore has been wildly inconsistent this season, but over his last five games everything has seemed to click. He matched a career-high 16 points in the overtime victory, playing a career-high 33 minutes, while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. Before Feb. 15th, 2019 White had exactly zero double-digit scoring games in his career–since then, he has had four with three coming in consecutive games. Without him, the Griffs would not be playing in this game–if you have followed Canisius this season, you know how crazy that sounds.
However, the Griffs cannot rely on Faulkner and White to lead this team. Takal Molson, Malik Johnson and Scott Hitchon need to step up. I mention Hitchon because he became an integral part of the team (specifically offensively) once Isaiah Reese was dismissed, but against Manhattan he played 11 minutes, scored two points and had four fouls. That won’t work against Monmouth. I love the energy and intensity Scott brings to the court, but he will need to play within himself and not let his emotions get the best of him, as we have seen at times this season.
The matchup I want to see is Molson vs Ray Salnave. Molson will need to be locked in defensively, because the sophomore can get hot and go off at any time. In his last three games he has scored 17, 20 and 19 points, respectively. Molson fouled out of the quarterfinal game against Manhattan and you better believe head coach King Rice knows that and will be telling his kids to attack Takal early.
Defend without fouling.
Before the Tournament I predicted the bracket. Heading into the semifinals, I am 5-2 with both of my championship teams alive.
Dan’s Bet: Canisius Pick’em
Score Prediction: Canisius 78 Monmouth 76