Predicting the MAAC Tournament Bracket
To say it’s been a rough season for the MAAC is an understatement. Prohibitive favorites Rider and Canisius stumbled to 16-14 and 14-16 records, respectively, and the Griffs kicked preseason MAAC Player of the Year Isaiah Reese off the team halfway through conference play. Three-time defending champ Iona stumbled to a 2-9 non-conference record, Monmouth — which should have gotten an NCAA Tournament at-large berth just three years ago — was worse, losing its first 12 games of the campaign, while Siena was dealing with a new coach and system.
Add all that together and we have a conference tournament that is wide open.
First Round (Thurs., March 7)
Game 1: No. 9 Saint Peter’s Peacocks vs No. 8 Marist Red Foxes, 5 p.m.
Prediction: Saint Peter’s 61 Marist 58
Game 2: No. 10 Fairfield Stags vs No. 7 Manhattan Jaspers, approx. 7:15 p.m.
Prediction: Manhattan 63 Fairfield 60
Game 3: No.11 Niagara Purple Eagles vs No. 6 Monmouth Hawks, approx. 9:30 p.m.
Prediction: Niagara 73 Monmouth 72
Quarterfinals (Fri., March 8)
Game 4: Game 1 Winner (Predicted: Saint Peter’s) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels, 7 p.m.
Prediction: Iona 71 Saint Peter’s 58
Game 5: Game 2 Winner (Predicted: Manhattan) vs. No. 2 Canisius Golden Griffins, approx. 9:30 p.m.
Prediction: Canisius 68 Manhattan 61
Quarterfinals (Sat., March 9)
Game 6: Game 3 Winner (Predicted: Niagara) vs. No. 3 Quinnipiac Bobcats, 7 p.m.
Prediction: Quinnipiac 78 Niagara 69
Game 7: No. 5 Siena Saints vs. No. 4 Rider Broncs, approx. 9:30 p.m.
Prediction: Siena 84 Rider 82
Semifinals (Sun., March 10)
Game 8: Game 7 Winner (Predicted: Siena) vs. Game 4 Winner (Predicted: Iona), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Prediction: Siena 81 Iona 78
Game 9: Game 6 Winner (Predicted: Quinnipiac) vs. Game 5 Winner (Predicted: Canisius), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Prediction: Cansius 77 Quinnipiac 75
Championship (Mon., March 11)
Game 10: Game 9 Winner (Predicted: Canisius) vs. Game 8 Winner (Predicted: Siena), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Prediction: Siena 82 Canisius 72
Analysis: As stated above the MAAC Tournament is wide open and we are predicting the No.5 seeded Siena Saints will advance to their first NCAA Tournament since 2010. The Saints have arguably the most talented player in the conference on their roster in Jalen Pickett–if he wasn’t a freshman, Siena would probably be talked about more as a possible sleeper in this field. Another reason I am predicting Siena: the Times Union Center, their home court being the host for the tourney is a huge advantage.
No.1 seed Iona is the favorite winning the last three conference tournaments and four of the last five, and they are winners of their final seven games–so why did I not pick them? Simple, the MAAC has been too volatile to pick the favorite to win—look at last season’s tournament when the top three seeds all lost their first games (Rider, Canisius and Niagara).
Who do you think will earn their spot in the field of 68? Let us know in the comments below…