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MAAC Tournament Seeding Probabilities and Analysis

Let’s have some fun with numbers to see how the league tournament seedings could end up.

NCAA Basketball: Rider at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, we’re closing in on conference tournaments, and it’s time to talk potential brackets for what the MAAC Tournament in Atlantic City will look like.

Thanks to this thread by @mjhackman on Twitter, we have probabilities for each team getting each seed, and thus, we have most likely matchups for each team as well. (Matt has also done so for many other leagues so go check him out if you are a data nerd.)

Here’s a look at the seeding and matchups:

The teams to sit out round one have appeared to separate themselves, and now it’s all about potentially cracking that top three.

Per the simulation above, Iona, Rider, and Siena are all virtually locks for a bye, while Niagara has a 96% chance, and Quinnipiac has an 83% chance to get the first-round free pass. The Niagara-Quinnipiac matchup is the most likely for the four-five game, as it seems like those two teams are a step behind the top three, and they’re also currently behind in the standings.

Niagara won both matchups with the Bobcats, including a major comeback fueled by freshman Harlan Obioha’s breakout performance last weekend. Both games between the teams were close, but Niagara head coach Greg Paulus would probably be confident that he knows the method to beating Baker Dunleavy’s Quinnipiac team.

Siena is given a 12% chance to finish outside the top three, which is significant enough to note. If the Saints do end up finishing outside the top three, and have to play a game against a rested team like Quinnipiac or Niagara, it likely means that the Saints’ season had spiraled out of control.

The Siena schedule is still brutal. They have to face the other two teams in the top three (Rider and Iona) both on the road before the season’s end. KenPom gives the Saints just a 6.8% chance to win both of those games, but if they split them, and take care of business against the other three teams they will face, they should be very safely in with a top three spot.

With Javian McCollum back in the lineup last weekend, Siena swept Marist and the Mount, getting stellar performances from their sophomore guard, as well as big games from freshman Michael Eley.

At times it has looked shaky, but Iona has the inside track to the No. 1 seed at the moment, given that they are favored in each of their last six games, including a road game at Rider on the final day of the MAAC season. The Gaels have won five games in a row, and are getting elite scoring from Walter Clayton Jr. If the Gaels and Broncs both win each game up until the finale, they’ll each be 16-3, with that game determining the top seed in Atlantic City.

Even though the Gaels are currently favored in that game, Rider beat Iona in New Rochelle, and they’re the hottest team in the league. If Rider managed to extent their win streak until the Iona game, they’d have won 13 games in a row, and have a full, wall-to-wall madhouse at the Broncs Zoo on March 4.

The difference between the one seed and the two seeds is pretty significant in the MAAC, as the winner of the one vs eight-nine and the four-five games get a day off in between the quarterfinals and the semis.

There’s still a 13% for Fairfield to get a bye, but they’d have to win some tough road games to do so. They’re probably locked into the six or the seven spot. They’ll jockey for position with Manhattan in those two positions, who has shocked many people by being this high in the standings at this point in the season. The Jaspers actually hold the tiebreaker over Fairfield, but they have four of their final six games on the road.

Because we don’t know what the one-two-three order will be, we can’t quite say whether some teams would rather get the seven or the six, but both Manhattan and Fairfield did defeat Siena, with the Stags doing it at MVP Arena.

Between Canisius, the Mount, Saint Peter’s, and Marist, I wouldn’t be shocked if there are two quarterfinalists out of that group, with one of Manhattan or Fairfield going down to a double-digit seed. None of those teams are significantly worse than the other, they’ve all jockeyed for position at the bottom of the league throughout the season. You can make compelling arguments for each of the four teams at the bottom to fill any of the spots from eight through 11 come the first full week of March. Three of those teams (all besides Marist) actually have wins over Quinnipiac this year, so the Bobcats falling to six and having to play on Tuesday would open them up for a potential upset loss.

If there’s one thing that we know about the MAAC this year, it’s to expect the unexpected from March 7 through March 11 in Atlantic City.

For all the teams that will participate, I will share some words of wisdom, paraphrased from the man who every high school student hates the most, William Shakespeare:

Beware the Madness of March.