The regular season for fans of the MAAC, also known as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, has concluded. As a result, it is time for the conference tournament! There is no better time to be a fan of college basketball, as there will be tournament galore over the course of the next few weeks. The path to the Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament starts now!
Even if the MAAC does not ring a bell for you, their top team likely will. The Monmouth Hawks dominated the regular season within the conference. They were the first team in the country to lock down the number one seed in their respective conference, thanks to a 16 game winning streak to close out the season. Behind them, Iona, Saint Peter’s and Siena all battled in an effort to be the team’s next best.
Things will tip-off on Thursday, March 2nd. This will lead into the quarterfinals, which will see the top eight remaining teams playing on the 3rd and 4th. The final four will do battle on Sunday the 5th, followed by the championship game tipping off at 9:00 pm EST on Monday night, March 6th. You can check out the seedings and bracket below.
(2) Saint Peter’s
— MAAC Sports (@MAACSports) February 27, 2017
Let’s kick things off with the game that will determine who gets to face off against Monmouth. Quinnipiac will be taking on Niagra. Niagra’s biggest edge will come from behind the arc and they will need a strong night from three-point land if they want to advance. But I do not forsee it being enough, with Quinnipiac taking this one 78-74. But the run won’t last, as Monmouth will light things up from three, sinking Quinnipiac 81-76.
We will stick on this side of the bracket, to see who will get the chance to take on the Hawks. Siena, who was one of the better teams in the MAAC, will take on Fairfield. But this will be no cakewalk for Siena. Statistically, the teams are fairly comparable. But Siena does have the slight edge plus home court advantage, leading to a 73-72.
Now on the flip side. We will open with the Canisius vs Marist matchup, with the winner getting number two St. Peter’s. Let’s keep this nice and simple. Marist is brutal. Give me Canisius 85-71. Canisius relies on throwing up a ton of shots. So while that would give credence to the idea that they could pull off the upset, I just have a hard time going against St. Peter’s. Give me St. Peter’s in a close one, 72-71.
Next up comes the game to determine Iona’s opening opponent. We have Rider taking on Manhattan. Rider is a sneaky six seed, as their numbers are not too too bad. While I think Manhattan is better than Marist, Rider dispatches of them with ease, 78-72. But they do have two key deficiencies when compared to Iona. Free throw shooting and three point shooting. Iona will win this night from beyond the arc with a final of 78-75.
Now for the semifinals! The Monmouth Hawks take on the Siena Saints. This should be a fun one. But the big key here will come from beyond the arc. Justin Robinson, Micah Seaborn and the guys from West Long Branch, New Jersey can hit their threes a lot better than the de facto home team. Those three pointers will be the difference in this one as Monmouth moves to the championship game by the score of 80-74.
Now, who will take them on? Iona and Saint Peter’s battled for the two seed for much of the season. They are both decent teams, with nothing major to make one stand out over the other. But the one thing that makes me lean towards Saint Peter’s is the fact that they can create possessions while Iona cannot. So give me Saint Peter’s 72-71.
This is it. This game will determine if Monmouth can make it to the Big Dance after getting screwed over by the committee a season ago. This will be the best game of the tournament, as these two are both solid teams. But Monmouth will be hungry after the way last year ended in this very game. Give me the Hawks, 74-71.
So that does it. Do you think Monmouth can finally make it back to the NCAA Tournament? Will they be able to avenge last seasons loss? Or will someone else and crush their dreams for a second straight season? Tell us in the comments!