Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
9 Iona def. 8 Quinnipiac
7 Fairfield def. 10 Manhattan
6 Canisius def. 11 Rider
1 Siena def. 9 Iona
4 Marist def. 5 Niagara
2 Monmouth def. 7 Fairfield
3 Saint Peter’s def. 6 Canisius
1 Siena def. 4 Marist
3 Saint Peter’s def. 2 Monmouth
1 Siena def. 3 Saint Peter’s
The Saints represent another top seed projected to win their conference. They went 12-4 in conference play with their four losses by an average of 2.5 points.One of the best players in the MAAC, senior guard Manny Camper, averaged a double double this season. Three other players average over 10 points per game on a roster that generally uses seven players per game. Camper, along with Jalen Pickett and Jordan King, all average over 33 minutes per game. The Saints are winners of four of their last five and swept next-seeded Monmouth in the regular season. With balanced offensive and defensive metrics with no clear weakness, Siena shapes up as a tournament team. They could have been the automatic bid last year, but with no 2020 March Madness, they’ll seek their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2010.
The seeding for the MAAC Tournament was a little strange and really hurt the Gaels. They finished with a 6-3 conference record but the seeding went by total wins which dropped them from second-best to ninth seed. Even though Iona played a MAAC-low nine games, they didn’t miss many matchups in February playing five of their eight scheduled games. The Gaels measure up strong in a number of statistical categories ranking top two in the MAAC in points per game, three-point shooting percentage, free throw percentage, and rebounding margin. Iona was 5-1 in conference games when facing an opponent for the first time. If they can survive Quinnipiac, Siena and Marist/Niagara would all represent new opponents. Don’t be deceived by the seeding, Iona could be a force in this event.
Matchup to Watch
Siena vs Iona
It may be a bit redundant to have the winner and sleeper be the matchup to watch but this may be the most important game of the tournament. These teams are top two in conference win percentage and KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency. Though they didn’t play in 2021, the Saints won both of their matchups last season. The winner of this matchup could win the tournament and have a decent case as a 15 seed with upset potential in the Big Dance.
Featured Image courtesy of sienasaints.com
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