After Saint Peter’s swept its western New York trip and wrapped up the 2 seed with a win at Canisius, there was little intrigue left in the MAAC’s final regular season Sunday.
Monmouth had already secured the top seed for the second year in a row, but capped the regular season in style with an exorcising win at Iona, after the Gaels edged the expected NCAA Tournament darlings in last year’s MAAC title game. Monmouth’s win also marked the first time in Tim Cluess’s tenure in New Rochelle that his team had been swept in the regular season. Iona, for its part, was already locked into the 3 seed after the Saint Peter’s win a few hours earlier.
Fairfield somewhat improbably earned the tournament’s final bye with its own sweep of western New York, winning at Niagara to lock up the 5 seed. The Stags earned the bye, but they’ll have to face 4 seed Siena on their home floor in the quarterfinals, as the Saints once again host the tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany.
The tournament tips off Thursday with first-round action between 8 seed Quinnipiac and 9 seed Niagara. The Bobcats swept the series this year, but the winner gets top-seeded Monmouth in the quarterfinals. In other first-round action, 6 seed Rider will take on 11 seed Manhattan. The Jaspers lost out on the 10 seed to Marist by virtue of...a coin flip. The Red Foxes will play 7 seed Canisius on Thursday.
Monmouth’s path to redemption is fairly clear until the title game — every team that gave them trouble in the regular season is on the other side of the bracket. Will they possibly run into Iona for a rematch? If you asked King Rice, that might actually be preferred to John Dunne’s league-best defense that slowed down the Hawks in what could have easily been a Peacock regular season sweep.
Full bracket below: