Monday, February 27, 2017

MAAC Monday, Part II: MBB award and tournament predictions, final power rankings

The second of today's two-part MAAC Monday is also one in which predictions are the first orders of business, much as they were on the women's side. Before the Men's and Women's Basketball Championships tip off in Albany on Thursday, we offer our predictions of both the award winners; to be announced Friday, as well as the matchups inside the tournament bracket before revealing our final power rankings of the 2016-17 season:

Player of the Year
Who Should Win: Justin Robinson, Monmouth (19.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.5 SPG)
Who Will Win: Robinson

And it should be unanimous. A month ago, it looked like there would be a slew of challengers to Monmouth's floor general before he found another gear in the early stages of what became a 16-game win streak for the Hawks. Now the MAAC scoring leader at just under 20 points per game, Robinson has elevated his game to an even higher level, and is head and shoulders above the competition as he prepares to become just the fourth player in conference history to win two or more Player of the Year awards, and first since Luis Flores captured the hardware while leading Manhattan to back-to-back MAAC championships in 2003 and 2004.

Rookie of the Year
Who Should Win: Mikey Dixon, Quinnipiac (16.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 APG)
Who Will Win: Dixon


This was a two-horse race until Rider's Stevie Jordan was suspended four games for a violation of team rules. Jordan will certainly garner All-Rookie honors, as well he should, but Dixon blossomed from his insertion into the Bobcats' starting lineup all the way through the end of the season, becoming the brightest star on a roster that shapes up to be a potent one for Tom Moore in 2017-18 as the rebuilding process reaches its apex in Hamden. Rookie classmate Peter Kiss was also an integral part in Quinnipiac's success, but Dixon's scoring prowess, the sixth-best in the MAAC this season, wins out.

Sixth Man of the Year
Who Should Win: Austin Tilghman, Monmouth (6.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.3 APG)
Who Will Win: Nico Clareth, Siena (13.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 SPG)

Tilghman may not have the gaudy stat line to prove his value, but there was more than one occasion this season in which he picked Monmouth up, including his career-high 21 points against Marist in January. Both head coach King Rice and Justin Robinson praise the indispensability of Tilghman as an energy guy off the bench, and his knack for setting the tone among the Hawks' reserves cannot be overlooked. Iona's Deyshonee Much could get consideration here even after missing nine games, and Saint Peter's Cavon Baker is a viable option as well. However, Clareth displayed the same explosive flair upon his return that won him this distinction as a freshman last year over Manhattan's Rich Williams, making his 11-game absence in Siena's rotation a period in which the Saints missed his contributions more than numbers and quotes may realize, and his impact will be what wins him over with MAAC coaches on the ballot.

Defensive Player of the Year
Who Should Win: Chazz Patterson, Saint Peter's (5.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.8 SPG)
Who Will Win: Chris Brady, Monmouth (9.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG)


John Dunne has spent the past two years attempting to educate everyone on Patterson's lockdown defense, which has limited the likes of Justin Robinson, A.J. English, Shane Richards and Marquis Wright among others. No one in the MAAC possesses the glove-like suffocation on the defensive end that Patterson does, which makes the senior guard so deserving of this honor. However, the sad fact is that this award is almost always handed to a frontcourt player simply because of the greater ability to influence a game through blocked shots, and in some cases, rebounding. Siena's Javion Ogunyemi, who won this award last year, will be in consideration again; as will Rider's Kahlil Thomas, who may be the best all-around defender in the league based on his stat-filling numbers. At the end of the day, though, without Brady down low, Monmouth is greatly compromised in the paint and perhaps not the third-best scoring defense in the league as it is going into Albany. That tips the scales heavily into Brady's favor, and will most likely make up for the senior big missing the cut on All-MAAC recognition.

Coach of the Year
Who Should Win: John Dunne, Saint Peter's
Who Will Win: King Rice, Monmouth

Coaches always like to reward winning among their peers, so Rice will get this award for a second consecutive season, in large part for guiding the Hawks to 16 consecutive wins and becoming the first coach in MAAC history to win 18 league games. With that said, though, what Dunne has accomplished in Jersey City this season must not be completely ignored. The Peacocks were picked fourth in the preseason poll, but hardly anyone could have seen an already stout defense become as strong as it did, not to mention the transformation on the offensive end that is largely attributable to three incoming transfers who sat out last season. The popular pick among media is Dunne for what he has been able to do with very little in the way of resources, and as much as he deserves the call here, Rice's record will likely be the bigger influence.

First Team All-MAAC
Justin Robinson, Monmouth (Player of the Year)

Tyler Nelson, Fairfield
Jordan Washington, Iona
Quadir Welton, Saint Peter's
Marquis Wright, Siena

Second Team All-MAAC
Brett Bisping, Siena

Khallid Hart, Marist
Kassius Robertson, Canisius
Micah Seaborn, Monmouth
Kahlil Thomas, Rider

Third Team All-MAAC
Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius
Mikey Dixon, Quinnipiac
Lavon Long, Siena
Matt Scott, Niagara
Jimmie Taylor, Rider

Honorable Mention All-MAAC
Kahlil Dukes, Niagara
Je'lon Hornbeak, Monmouth
Zavier Turner, Manhattan
Phil Valenti, Canisius
Zane Waterman, Manhattan
Trevis Wyche, Saint Peter's

MAAC All-Rookie Team
Mikey Dixon, Quinnipiac (Rookie of the Year)
E.J. Crawford, Iona

Stevie Jordan, Rider
Peter Kiss, Quinnipiac
Aaron Walker Jr., Manhattan

MAAC Tournament Predictions (bracket graphic courtesy of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)

Opening Round
Quinnipiac over Niagara
Canisius over Marist
Rider over Manhattan

Quarterfinals
Monmouth over Quinnipiac
Saint Peter's over Canisius
Iona over Rider
Siena over Fairfield

Semifinals
Monmouth over Siena
Iona over Saint Peter's

Championship
Monmouth over Iona

Most Valuable Player: Justin Robinson, Monmouth

Power Rankings
1) Monmouth (26-5, 18-2 MAAC)
Last Week:
 1

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 at Iona (W 79-73)
Next Game: Friday 3/3 vs. Quinnipiac or Niagara, 7 p.m.

2) Saint Peter's (18-12, 14-6 MAAC)
Last Week:
 2

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 at Canisius (W 72-65)
Next Game: Friday 3/3 vs. Canisius or Marist, 9:30 p.m.

3) Iona (19-12, 12-8 MAAC)
Last Week:
 3

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 vs. Monmouth (L 79-73)
Next Game: Saturday 3/4 vs. Rider or Manhattan, 7 p.m.

4) Siena (15-16, 12-8 MAAC)
Last Week: 4
Last Game: Sunday 2/26 vs. Marist (W 80-64)
Next Game: Saturday 3/4 vs. Fairfield, 9:30 p.m.

5) Fairfield (16-13, 11-9 MAAC)
Last Week:
 6

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 at Niagara (W 62-58)
Next Game: Saturday 3/4 vs. Siena, 9:30 p.m.

6) Rider (17-14, 10-10 MAAC)
Last Week:
 7

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 at Quinnipiac (W 99-82)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Manhattan, approx. 10 p.m.

7) Canisius (17-14, 10-10 MAAC)
Last Week:
 5

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 vs. Saint Peter's (L 72-65)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Marist, approx. 7:30 p.m.

8) Quinnipiac (10-20, 7-13 MAAC)
Last Week:
 8

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 vs. Rider (L 99-82)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Niagara, 5 p.m.

9) Niagara (9-22, 6-14 MAAC)
Last Week:
 10

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 vs. Fairfield (L 62-58)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Quinnipiac, 5 p.m.

10) Marist (8-23, 5-15 MAAC)
Last Week:
 11

Last Game: Sunday 2/26 at Siena (L 80-64)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Canisius, approx. 7:30 p.m.

11) Manhattan (10-21, 5-15 MAAC)
Last Week:
 9

Last Game: Friday 2/24 at Iona (L 72-51)
Next Game: Thursday 3/2 vs. Rider, approx. 10 p.m.

3 comments:

  1. Looks like you use "Overall" Stats in your selections. Voters use "Conference Only" stats to make All Conference selections. This makes a considerable difference in several players.

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  2. Granted Canisius was 10-10, but Waterman was a much bigger impact player in MAAC play than Crumpton & has better MAAC Stats

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  3. Don't agree on Clareth. Any player for whatever reason other than injury that takes a 'leave of absence' should not be considered for an all conference award over those who were eligible for all games their teams competed in. Call me old school.

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