Tuesday, March 1, 2016

MAAC conference tournament preview

This is part 9 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Monmouth 17-3 (25-6)
Iona 16-4 (19-10)
Siena 13-7 (20-11)
St Peter's 12-8 (14-15)
Fairfield 12-8 (18-12)
Manhattan 9-11 (12-17)
Canisius 8-12 (13-18)
Rider 8-12 (12-19)
Quinnipiac 6-14 (9-20)
Niagara 5-15 (7-24)
Marist 4-16 (7-22)

Tournament format:
All 11 teams embark on a neutral site at Albany.  They're hosting the men and the women simultaneously, so this will span 5 days from Thursday March 3 to Monday March 7.

The matchups:
1) Monmouth vs. 8/9) Rider/Quinnipiac
4) St Peter's vs. 5) Fairfield
2) Iona vs. 7/10) Canisius/Niagara
3) Siena vs. 6/11) Manhattan/Marist

The stakes:
The closer we get, the more I think Monmouth is in the lockbox.  Here are the resume issues as we stand:
- wins at UCLA and Georgetown, while pure road wins, have diminished
- the neutral site win at USC is evaporating in value
- 3 bad road losses (Canisius, Manhattan, Army)
There's one other sub-100 loss, but that's 104 Iona, more willing to dismiss that.
So why do I think Monmouth is a lock?
- They lost 3 bad road games...but won a total of THIRTEEN road games.  13-4 in true road games.  That includes 7 pure road games they scheduled in the non-con.  The committee has a history of rewarding teams like that.  And bad road losses can be forgiven if you beat UCLA and Georgetown.  And they beat many bad teams on the road too (Drexel, Rutgers, Cornell, etc etc).  The bottom line is  that the pure volume of road games played by Monmouth will save them - if you play 17, you're going to lose a couple.  The committee will reward the effort.  And this is all before we get to the Advocare tourney, where they beat Notre Dame, the one win with true shelf life.  They played one home game in the non-con (incidentally, over the NEC champs Wagner).  This is the exact type of mid-major the committee loves to fall in love with.  THEY'RE IN.

The rest of the conference kind of took a dump.  19th in CRPI is low for them, and no one's in a position for the NIT (Iona and Siena are both hovering around RPI 100, which isn't quite enough).  Well, Siena actually beat Bonaventure and Hofstra and Albany (all at home), which isn't bad, but 7 conference losses is fatal.  Iona scheduled up but couldn't do anything with it.  As such, they'll settle for EIEIO tourneys.

Fairfield also has a resume worthy of a postseason bid somewhere, they should get an invite somewhere.  St Peter's has to win twice to be CIT eligible, and that means beating Monmouth, so have fun with that.

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