The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament kicks off this March 2nd, 2017 with three games. None of which are intriguing, however I believe that the sixth seeded Rider Broncs could be the dark horse of the tournament. Of course, they have a long road ahead of them, first needing to take out the eleventh seeded Manhattan Jaspers.
The MAAC only features eleven teams, so the top three teams get a bye from the first round. Also, the fourth seeded and fifth seeded team are absent from the opening round, but pair off against each other in the Quarterfinals.
The schedule are as follows:
Thursday, March 2 (First Round), WatchESPN
Game 1: No. 8 Quinnipiac vs. No. 9 Niagara, 5 p.m.
Game 2: No. 7 Canisius vs. No. 10 Marist, 7 p.m.
Game 3: No. 6 Rider vs. No. 11 Manhattan, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 3 (Quarterfinals), WatchESPN
Game 4: No. 1 Monmouth vs. Game 1 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 5: No. 2 Saint Peter’s vs. Game 2 winner, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 (Quarterfinals), WatchESPN
Game 6: No. 3 Iona vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 7: No. 4 Siena vs. No. 5 Fairfield, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 (Semifinals), WatchESPN
Game 8: Game 4 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 6 (Championship)
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 9 p.m., ESPN2
Prediction: This is the year of the Monmouth Hawks, as all five starters from last years 27-win team returns.
Last year, the Iona Gaels upset the favorite Monmouth Hawks. Many argued that despite not earning the automatic bid, the Hawks still deserved to be in the field of 68. The selection committee differed, leaving the Hawks out of the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Hawks were selected to be in the NIT (Not in Tournament) as a number one seed, showing how close they were to being an at-large bid.
This year, the Hawks have won 26 games and are riding hot into the MAAC tournament, winning 16 games in a row. Senior guard Justin Robinson is tearing it up this year too, averaging 19.7 ppg, 4.8 apg and 3.9 rpg. The last year’s MAAC player of the year is a sure bet to earn the honors again this year.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Monmouth Hawks are ranked 88th, including their offense ranking in at 94 and defense at 80. In other words, they are well balanced and a 26-5 record speaks to that. On the season, they have a few good marquee wins. At home, they’ve defeated the Iona Gaels and Princeton Tigers. On the road, they beat a very good Memphis Tigers squad and nearly defeated an at-large South Carolina Gamecocks (1 point defeat).
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament takes place in Albany, NY. I guess if their an advantage to be given, it’s to the Siena Saints who play in Albany, NY. However, I don’t think that will help much, especially considering they will most likely have to play the Monmouth Hawks just to get into the MAAC Tournament Finals. Anyways, the Gaels or any other team ain’t taking the automatic bid away from the Hawks this year.