Happy Presidents' Day!
Had basketball been invented in or before the lifetimes of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, the two men for whom this day is dedicated would certainly be intrigued by tonight’s three-game slate.
None of tonight’s games – Siena at Iona, Canisius at Loyola or Marist at Saint Peter’s – is a real headline-grabber, but the beauty of February basketball is that almost every game means something in terms of postseason seeding.
If Siena is going to lose another game – with due respect to Canisius, which has been sporadically competitive – it’s either going to be tonight in New Rochelle or Feb. 27 at Niagara. I wouldn’t bet on the Gaels pulling off the upset, but it’s possible, and it would put Iona back in the category of teams peeking late in the season after that debacle two games ago at Manhattan.
If we can agree that there’s simply no way Siena is going to lose at Canisius, the Saints can all but clinch the regular season title with a win tonight.
Here’s why: If Siena loses, then loses again at Niagara and if Niagara wins out, the Saints and Eagles will finish with identical records and split the head-to-head matchup. That would make the tiebreaker their respective records against the first available team in the standings that can serve as a tiebreaker. IF the above scenario plays out, Siena and Niagara will finish with identical records against every possible third place team except for Rider. That means Niagara having two wins against Rider and Siena having only one would be the deciding factor.
I know. That scenario isn’t exactly likely. But it isn’t totally insane either, which means Siena can make things a whole lot easier by taking care of business tonight.
Another storyline George and Honest Abe would be following is this: Loyola and Saint Peter’s both have a realistic shot at avoiding the play-in round. Iona, meanwhile, leads Loyola by only one game for sixth place, and has to worry about slipping into play-in territory as well.
That means all three games will have some impact, one way or another, on tournament seeding.
Also of note:
Iona’s Scott Machado won his fifth MAAC Rookie of the Week award today, pulling him into a tie with Rider’s Novar Gadson for most ROW honors. Gadson had an ugly performance yesterday at Manhattan in which he scored five points on 1-for-11 shooting. I’d say since more of Gadson’s big games have come during conference play, he’s the frontrunner right now. But the race is close enough that some big performances by Machado down the stretch could make him the Rookie of the Year.
And Ryan Rossiter was named Player of the Week after yet another Battier-esque weekend in which he put up the following numbers: 14 points on 4-for-4 shooting and 18 rebounds against Loyola, then eight points, eight boards and eight blocks in just 22 minutes against Manhattan.
There is no official MAAC Most Improved Player award, but if there was, it would be Rossiter in a landslide.