March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the MAAC Tournament.
#8 Fairfield vs. #9 Manhattan
#7 Iona vs. #10 Canisius
#6 Niagara vs. #11 Marist
#1 Siena vs #8 Fairfield/#9 Manhattan
#4 Monmouth vs. #5 Quinnipiac
#2 St. Peter’s vs. #7 Iona/#10 Canisius
#3 Rider vs. #6 Niagara/#11 Marist
Who will win the MAAC Tournament?
Aram: #1 Siena (19-10, 15-5 in the MAAC)
This is going to be the popular opinion as Siena is currently on a 9 game winning streak heading into the Conference Tournament. They have split the series against St. Peter’s, but they are just clicking on all cylinders right now. Jalen Pickett is the best player in this conference and is ready to lead Siena to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Pat: #1 Siena (19-10, 15-5 in the MAAC)
The Saints won their last nine games to edge out St. Peter’s for the top seed and I think they keep that momentum going in Atlantic City. The inside/outside combo of Jalen Pickett and Elijah Burns is arguably the best in the league, and I think their road is much easier than St. Peter’s to get to the finals.
TJ: #1 Siena (19-10, 15-5 in the MAAC)
Siena looks good. Jalen Pickett is a top five scorer and leading the conference in assists also while having NBA draft hopes. The Saints have won their last nine which included wins over other conference top dogs Monmouth and Rider. Head Coach Carmen Maciarello has spent time under Fran McCaffery and Ed Cooley and his tutelage is a big factor for this late season run and the Saints success. Manny Camper and Donald Carey also figure to be key players to look out for.
Which team will be a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #4 Monmouth (18-13, 12-8 in the MAAC)
Monmouth has two great guards in Deion Hammond and Ray Salnave who have good height and can both light it up in a hurry. Great guard play is extremely important to go on a deep run and that’s what Monmouth will be hoping for as they have a tough road to reach the Championship.
Pat: #7 Iona (11-16, 9-11 in the MAAC)
The Gaels lost a tiebreaker with Niagara that cost them a first round bye, but as long as they can get through that first game they’re equipped to make a run. With an up-tempo offense and five guys averaging double figures, the Gaels can score with anyone. Getting stops is a different story, but they’ve played both Siena and St. Peter’s close, so if they can string together some strong defensive performances, watch out.
TJ: #5 Quinnipiac (15-15, 10-10 in the MAAC)
The fifth seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats could be poised to make a run. They are scheduled to play Monmouth in the quarterfinals who they have taken down before and have the second best scorer in the MAAC. They currently are riding a nice little three game winning streak and coach Baker Dunleavy has prior coaching experience under Jay Wright. Tyrese Williams and Kevin Marfo along with top scorer Rich Kelly are going to need to have big time games for Quinnipiac to chase the title.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Kevin Marfo, Junior F/C – Quinnipiac
I was thinking about putting in Seth Pinkney, the 7 foot freshman for Quinnipiac, but he is much more raw and has a few years before he will become more notable. Instead, I’m going with the top rebounder in the nation, Kevin Marfo. NBA teams love tenacious rim runners who will do whatever they can to get a rebound. He continues to improve his shot from the line and around the arc. Marfo still has another year following this one, but this Tournament is his chance to open their eyes now.
Pat: Jalen Pickett, Sophomore G – Siena
Pickett gained some NBA attention after a stellar freshman season, and he’s had a great follow up campaign, leading the conference in assists and hitting 38% of his threes. Jalen Pickett has great size, and is a really good defender as well. Pickett may decide to come out after this season, and a big March will strongly influence that decision.
TJ: Deion Hammond, Junior G – Monmouth
Monmouth Junior Deion Hammond could be someone to keep an eye on. The 6-4 Junior has a nice 200 pound frame and is averaging over 16 points per game this season. He is shooting over 35% from deep and has a nice indicator that his shot will develop while shooting 80% from the FT line, an overall increase of 13% since his freshman year and 8% from the past season. Deion will need to show some production in other facets of the game to really get his name out there, but there are some things to like.