clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MAAC Tournament bracket and predictions: Rider and Canisius are the top seeds

Canisius, Iona and Niagara could make this one interesting.

NCAA Basketball: Rider at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The MAAC Tournament bracket is set to tip off on March 1 from the Times Union Center in Albany, New York.

The Rider Broncs secured the top seed for the MAAC Tournament with a 110-101 win over Iona on Sunday. No. 2 seed Canisius earned a share of the regular season title with a win over Marist. Rider got the No. 1 seed via the tiebreaker, but Canisius is essentially even on paper.

Here’s the bracket:

How to watch

ESPN3 will stream all MAAC Tournament games. The final game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. on March 5. The entire tournament will be played in Albany.

First Round (Thursday, March 1)

Game 1: No. 8 Monmouth vs. No. 9 St. Peter’s, 5 p.m. ET

Game 2: No. 7 Quinnipiac vs. No. 10 Siena, 7 p.m. ET

Game 3: No. 6 Fairfield vs. No. 11 Marist, 9 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals (March 2/3)

FRIDAY, MARCH 2

Game 4: No. 1 Rider vs. Monmouth/St. Peter’s, 7 p.m. ET

Game 5: No. 2 Canisius vs. Quinnipiac/Siena, 9:30 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, MARCH 3

Game 6: No. 3 Niagara vs. Fairfield/Marist, 7:30 p.m. ET

Game 7: No. 4 Iona vs. No. 5 Manhattan, 9:30 p.m. ET

Semifinals (March 4)

Game 8: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 7, 7 p.m. ET

Game 9: Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 5, 9:30 p.m. ET

Championship (March 5)

Championship: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Predictions

Rider and Canisius have been the class of the conference this year, but as we know, anything can happen in March. The top seed in the MAAC hasn’t won the tournament since 2010, after all. This year has seen the usual MAAC hierarchy turned upside-down, as this is the first time neither Monmouth nor Iona has won the regular season title since 2013.

Canisius was picked to finish ninth preseason, but the Golden Griffins have had a magical season and will be brimming with confidence having won 8 of their last 9. Rider is the only hotter team in the conference, having won 10 of its last 11 games. With the Manhattan Jaspers also having a down year, this is a huge chance for a long-downtrodden programs to gain some glory. Canisius last made the NCAA Tournament in 1996. Rider’s last appearance was in 1994.

Unfortunately for fans of feel-good stories, you can never count out the usual suspects in the MAAC. The Iona Gaels and Monmouth Hawks have shown flashes of upset potential throughout the season. Iona, last year’s MAAC representative in the NCAA Tournament, has struggled mightily after starting conference play 6-1. The Gaels were clear favorites to win the MAAC in preseason, but ending the year on a 5-6 run is not ideal. The Monmouth Hawks are also lurking, having gone 7-11 in conference play but still capable of putting together strong performances. Both teams have notched a win over Rider this season, and Monmouth will be in Rider’s path after falling to the 8/9 game. Iona will be the No. 4 seed and could face Rider in the semifinals.

Also lurking are the third-seeded Niagara Purple Eagles. The Purple Eagles play at an fast pace and was the only team to defeat Canisius on the Golden Griffins’ home court this season, but they will have to be more consistent to string together three wins in Albany.

KenPom has Canisius as the highest-ranked team in the MAAC, and I’m going to roll with the Golden Griffins as my pick to win. There’s a decent chance Iona or Monmouth trip up Rider before the semifinals, which could clear the path for Canisius. This should be one of the crazier conference tournaments though, so be sure to tune in.