Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAAAAAAAAC)
Revised All-Conference selections:
Best call(s): I was in on Fairfield! I even said it was my boldest call of the preview to have them 6th, and they even exceeded that to finish tied for fourth. Thanks Stags! And while I didn’t pick Monmouth to win (Iona was just too loaded, damn near impossible to pick against them), I definitely thought they had a high ceiling. I feel good about nailing the “tiers” – top 3, middle 5, bottom 3.
Worst call(s): I hate that I missed the champion, but Iona’s injuries and underperformance were very tough to see coming. I was a bit too high on Manhattan and Rider (and low on St. Peter’s) – the middle of the MAAC got pretty jumbled.
Who I want to win: I’m gonna go with the favorite, Monmouth, simply because I think they earned a tournament bid with their nonconference performance, but I’m not positive they’d get an at-large bid at this point (UCLA and Georgetown sucking hasn’t helped their big wins stand out, and even USC has faded HARD late in the year). If the auto-bid is the only way the Hawks get in, then I want that to happen.
Who I think will win: I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Iona was awesome down the stretch, including completely ripping apart Monmouth at Monmouth, and the talent finally seems to have all gelled. Early injuries to Shadrac Casimir and Kelvin Amayo threw off the rotation, but it’s far more settled now, going 7-8 deep. Uncharacteristically for a Tim Cluess team, they’re even playing some defense. The Gaels have choked away the tourney crown to Manhattan for two straight years, but they might relish being the underdog, no-one-believes-in-us role against the champion Hawks.
Chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament: Not bad! Monmouth and Iona could both do some damage. Monmouth will probably be without forward Deon Jones, a crucial piece in their early season dominance, so it’s a coin flip between these two on the most likely NCAA tourney Cinderella. Both have star power at PG, a factor I love for underdogs, and both teams can put up points. Monmouth had the best defense in the conference per kenpom.com, but Jones was a big part of that. Either one could give a 3-6 seed trouble, depending on the seed awarded, and has a shot at a Sweet 16 run.
How it plays out:
(9) Quinnipiac defeats (8) Rider
(7) Canisius defeats (10) Niagara
(6) Manhattan defeats (11) Marist
(1) Monmouth defeats (9) Quinnipiac
(4) Fairfield defeats (4) St. Peter’s
(6) Manhattan defeats (3) Siena
(2) Iona defeats (7) Canisius
(1) Monmouth defeats (5) Fairfield
(2) Iona defeats (6) Manhattan
(2) Iona defeats (1) Monmouth
Iona gets a 14 seed, but the Gaels’ defense doesn’t hold up against a UNC- or Utah-level opponent. Monmouth becomes the hottest bubble debate topic due to their strong nonconference work, but the decline of the UCLA/Georgetown/USC wins, plus the Deon Jones personnel loss, ultimately leaves them on the outside looking in. Sorry Hawks :(