- The MAAC Tournament gets underway on Monday with a first-round matchup between No. 6 Canisius and No. 11 Rider
- Siena and Monmouth are the top seeds and tournament favorites, while defending champion Iona lag at No. 9
- See the odds and trends as tournament action gets underway at Jim Whalen Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City
The Iona Gaels face a tough road in their bid to claim a fifth straight title when the 2021 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament gets underway on Monday night (March 8th). All games at this year’s tournament are set to take place at Jim Whalen Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, with attendance limited to friends and families of the participating teams. In addition, seeding at this year’s tournament has been based on the number of wins in conference play, with the results of head-to-head matches acting as the primary tiebreaker between deadlocked teams.
All 11 MAAC teams will participate in this year’s tournament, with the top five seeds enjoying a bye to the quarter-finals. First-round action tips off on Monday night as the No. 6 Canisius Golden Griffins battle No. 11 Rider.
The action continues on Tuesday as No. 9 Iona battles No. 8 Quinnipiac – with a quarter-final date with top-seeded Siena on the line – followed by a meeting between No. 7 Fairfield and No. 10 Manhattan. Quarter-final and semi-final matchups are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, before the tournament champion is crowned on Saturday (March 13th).
Here’s a look at how the tournament field stacks up, and best bets to raise the hardware on Saturday afternoon.
Odds to Win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
|Siena Saints (1)||+250|
|Monmouth Hawks (2)||+300|
|Saint Peter’s Peacocks (3)||+475|
|Iona Gaels (9)||+500|
|Canisius Golden Griffins (6)||+800|
|Marist Red Foxes (4)||+800|
|Niagara Purple Eagles (5)||+800|
|Manhattan Jaspers (10)||+3300|
|Quinnipiac Bobcats (8)||+3300|
|Fairfield Stags (7)||+5000|
|Rider Broncs (11)||+5000|
Odds as of March 8, 2021
Siena, Monmouth Sport Best Tournament Chances
As usual, winning it all means everything at this tournament, with the eventual champions earning the MAAC’s lone berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Perched as the top two seeds, the Siena Saints and Monmouth Hawks enter the tourney sporting the best chances of claiming this year’s tournament championship. TeamRankings.com gives No. 1 Siena pegged a 22.26% chance, just ahead of the Hawks at 22.03%. However, neither team is yet to make its mark in the March Madness odds.
MENS MAAC TOURNAMENT SEEDING
2 Saint Peter’s
— Hawk Talk Podcast (@HawkTalk_Pod) March 7, 2020
Deadlocked with Monmouth at 12 conference wins, the Saints earned the top seed on the strength of their victories in two meetings with the Hawks early on this season, and also lead the way as +250 favorites in the tournament odds. Siena has been a model of consistency this season, avoiding consecutive defeats while compiling a 12-4 SU record, and closed out the regular season on a steady 4-1 SU run.
Saints a Betting Disappointment
The Saints have been far from dominant while climbing to the top of the MAAC standings. With six of their 16 overall outings getting settled by two or fewer points, the Saints have been a steady betting disappointment, going 7-9 ATS and covering in consecutive games just once in their final 13 outings. Siena also lost outright as betting favorites in two of its past four contests away from home. Success at this event has also eluded the Saints, with the team reaching the final just once in the decade since their last title win in 2010.
The #SienaSaints defeat Canisius 73-66 to claim at least a share of the program’s 9️⃣th @MAACHoops Regular Season ????, and ???? up the #️⃣1️⃣ seed in next week’s #MAACHoops Tournament‼️#MarchOn | #Attack | #Finish | #EAT pic.twitter.com/4SQUiRLgAH
— Siena Basketball (@SienaMBB) March 5, 2021
In addition, top seeding will not help Siena avoid a tough quarter-final matchup. The Saints will be facing their quarter-final opponents for the first time this season when they battle the winner of Tuesday’s date between the defending champion Gaels and Quinnipiac. Siena has produced mixed results against both its prospective opponents. The Saints have ended eight years of futility vs Iona with wins in four of their past six meetings, and have won and covered in just two of six meetings with the Bobcats.
The good news for Siena comes in the form of the shaky 1-3 SU run that the Bobcats take into the tournament. However, the Saints could be in for a rough ride against the resurgent Gaels, who overcame a lengthy unscheduled layoff to close out their schedule with wins in three of five contests, capped by back-to-back wins over Monmouth that ultimately denied the Hawks top seeding.
Second Seeding a Blessing in Disguise for Hawks
Those losses to Iona have turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Hawks, who await the winner of Tuesday’s clash between No. 7 Fairfield and No. 10 Manhattan. Pegged as a +300 bet to win this year’s tourney, Monmouth has enjoyed a somewhat favorable schedule this season, with eight of their 12 conference wins coming against opponents now seeded sixth or lower.
Siena moves to 2-0 with a 76-62 win over Monmouth today. @SienaMBB is loaded with under the radar talent including Jalen Pickett & Manny Camper. @JalenPickett7 @_bigshotManny_ #maachoops pic.twitter.com/icYzAqTC8c
— Chris McKee (@mrmckee) January 5, 2021
In addition to getting swept by both the Saints and Iona, the Hawks struggled to split two-game sets with both Niagara and Saint Peter’s. Monmouth also closed out the regular season on the verge of freefall at the sportsbooks, failing to cover in seven of their final nine contests, including a pair of uninspiring wins over the bottom-feeding Rider Broncs this past weekend.
And despite compiling solid winning records in six of the past seven years, the Hawks still have work to do to rewrite a losing narrative at this tournament, where they have reached the final twice since 2016, but have never claimed a championship.
Canisius an Intriguing Dark Horse
Further down the seeding, perhaps the most interesting team to watch is the Canisius Golden Griffins, who sport attractive +600 odds. Winners in six of their final eight contests, the Golden Griffins enjoy a favorable opening-round date with Rider on Monday night, with the winner moving on to face No. 3 Saint Peter’s in the quarter-finals.
The final defensive stop of the night courtesy of @Malek_Green31.#MAACHoops pic.twitter.com/dXWcSA8NNr
— Canisius Basketball (@Griffs_MBB) March 6, 2021
Canisius tallied a pair of wins this season over the Peacocks, who stumble into the tournament on a 2-3 SU run, and also split a pair of dates with Monmouth, with each of those contests finishing with a 78-76 score.
Don’t Sleep on Defending Champion Gaels
While a Cinderella run by the long suffering Golden Griffins would certainly be fun to watch, what is more likely is a resurgence by the Gaels, who are pegged as a +500 bet to defend their tournament crown. Iona showed no ill effects from the lengthy five-week layoff during which five games were cancelled. Indeed, in addition to their recent championship experience, the battle hardened Gaels will enjoy the benefit of their first postseason run under first-year head coach Rick Pitino.
Rick Pitino: “We’re gonna play the way I played at Kentucky, not Louisville. At Kentucky, we were a man team, a pressing team. I need to see what I have coming back, what we need, what we can do, and I’m very pleased.” #ICMBB
— Jaden Daly (@DalyDoseOfHoops) February 21, 2021
Considering the past success of both team and coach, and the Gaels’ impressive response to this season’s adversity, expect Iona to gain momentum as the tourney progresses, and to be on the court for Saturday’s final
The Pick: Iona Gaels (+500)