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2016-17 Preseason Power Rankings: The MAAC

There’s a lot of talent in the MAAC, but Monmouth will rise to the top.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Few could have predicted at the start of last season that Monmouth, the nondescript mid-major out of New Jersey, would garner so much attention on the national stage. But its Bench Mob pulled people in and the basketball followed suit.

All the Hawks needed to complete their magical season was a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

While Monmouth missed its chance, the MAAC provided entertainment throughout the year, from West Long Branch up to New Rochelle and beyond, with guys like A.J. English stealing the show.

This year is shaping up to be no different, with Monmouth again leading the way.

MAAC Preseason Power Rankings

1 Monmouth

Monmouth will be on top of the MAAC again, led by stud guard Justin Robinson, who averaged 19.3 points per game last season. The Hawks also reeled in highly touted point guard Ray Salnave for 2016. With any luck, the Bench Mob will finally get its chance to do its thing on CBS in March.

2 Siena

Siena surprised some by finishing third in the league last season, sporting a 13-7 record, and beating defending champ Manhattan in the MAAC quarters. Forward Brett Bisping, who’s now a senior, was the leading scorer, and will steer an experienced core of players. The Saints also scored four 2016 recruits, notably Khalil Richard.

3 Iona

While Monmouth led a fun, sweeping run in the MAAC, Iona ended up winning the title, sending the Gaels to March Madness. After missing most of the 2015-16 season, Schadrac Casimir will star in this year’s lineup. He averaged 15.9 points per game and knocked down 94 three-pointers in 2014-15. The Gaels are poised for a big season with his return and the additions of UConn transfer Sam Cassell Jr. and Fordham transfer Jon Severe.

4 Manhattan

This Manhattan team is seeking its third title in the last four years, with Steve Masiello, one of the top coaches in the league, at the helm. They’re bringing back three starters, featuring senior duo Rich Williams and Tyler Wilson. Juniors Zane Waterman and Calvin Crawford will be difference-makers too.

5 St. Peter’s

Whenever a freshman leads your team in scoring, you know you're set up well in the long-term. Antwon Portley did just that, and joins local product and junior guard Trevis Wyche to power the Peacocks in 2016-17. Quadir Welton, the nephew of former NBA star Rasheed Wallace, was a rebounding machine last year, dominating with his 6’8 build. St. Peter’s features a balanced, deep lineup that returns all five starters.

6 Fairfield

Junior Tyler Nelson has developed from one of the top MAAC freshmen in 2014-15 to a reliable guard last year, and aims to become the team leader this season as he nears 1,000 career points. Fairfield will feel the loss of Marcus Gilbert, a graduate who is playing pro overseas.

7 Canisius

The Golden Griffins added Martin Dixon-Green, a 2012 shooting guard from Canada, and return Phil Valenti, last seen knocking down a career-high 33 points in a triple OT, MAAC first-round thriller.

8 Rider

Senior Khalil Thomas, a dual scoring and rebounding threat, will head the Broncs this season. Rider has three new recruits (Jordan Allen, Xzavier Malone, Stevie Jordan) and an additional two seniors, but it's not clear just yet exactly how improved the Broncs are from last year.

9 Marist

Starting the season at Duke on Nov. 11 should set the tone for a rough season for the Red Foxes, but they should still be able to top last year's 4-16 MAAC record with the help of Khallid Hart, a premier scorer and senior guard.

10 Quinnipiac

Top scorer Giovanni McLean is gone, but second-leading man Daniel Harris is back for his senior season. Peter Kiss and Mikey Dixon are additions from the 2016 class. Kiss was the #81 SG from Notre Dame Prep in New York.

11 Niagara

With Niagara star guard Emile Blackman as one of three key departures, the Purple Eagles are destined for last place in the MAAC.