Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
A Look Back
Fairfield is now the front-runner in the MAAC, with a two-game lead just past the conference midway mark. Coming off two convincing wins at home, St. Peter’s has sole possession of second place. Despite early season injuries, coach John Dunne has kept the Peacocks on track and now they look very dangerous heading into the stretch.
BracketBuster pairings were announced Monday. They will be held February 18-20. The MAAC’s involvement includes a variety of intriguing matchups:
- Canisius at Boston University
- Austin Peay at Fairfield
- Iona at Liberty
- Loyola at Towson
- Manhattan at Stony Brook
- New Hampshire at Marist
- Central Michigan at Niagara
- Delaware at Rider
- St. Peter’s at Loyola-Chicago
- Maine at Siena
1. Fairfield (17-4, 10-1). A perfect three-game stretch as the Stags won 57-49 at Niagara, then edged Manhattan 61-59 at home, and dropped Canisius by 15. OE was just 85 at Niagara, but they limited the Purple Eagles to a 73 efficiency. The game with Manhattan was a lot closer than anticipated. Credit the Jaspers with a 37-26 OREB percentage edge and for forcing Fairfield into a 25% TO rate. The defense prospered again at home against the Golden Griffins.
Notable: Derek Needham scored 16 points including the game-winning three pointer with 8.7 seconds left against Manhattan. The sophomore guard has paced Fairfield in scoring five of the last six games.
2. St. Peter’s (13-9, 8-3) Extended their win streak with home conquests of Marist (85-53) and Rider (80-60). On the season, St. Peter’s’ offensive efficiency is 92. In those two games, the OE was 125 and 111, respectively. The Peacocks are not neglecting the defensive end, as they limited the opposition to 78 and 83 efficiencies in those two respective games.
Notable: Ryan Bacon earned player of the Week honors in the MAAC by averaging 18.5 points and eight rebounds. Bacon also shot 67% from the floor during the two-game stretch.
3. Rider (15-8, 7-4) Split with a road win 61-59 at Iona followed by an 80-60 loss at St. Peter’s on Sunday. The Broncs held Iona to an 89 efficiency mark on the defensive end. St. Peter’s, on the other hand, rang up an 111 OE. Broncs had their second-lowest offensive efficiency of the season, 83, at St. Peter’s, largely due to a 28% TO rate.
Notable: Senior Justin Robinson had 19 points, including 18 in the second half in the win at Iona. Robinson made a crucial basket to give the Broncs a four-point lead with 15 seconds left.
4. Loyola (11-10, 7-4) – The Greyhounds split at home, losing to Siena 76-59 before edging Iona 88-85. Defense, or a shortage thereof, was an issue. Loyola surrendered efficiencies of 112 and 113 in the respective contests. They pulled the Iona game out with a 117 OE of their own and an outstanding 13% TO rate.
Notable: Freshman guard Justin Drummond earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors with his first career double-double. Drummond scored 14 points, grabbed ten rebounds and blocked four shots in the win over Iona.
5. Iona (13-9, 7-4) – The Gaels have dropped three straight following losses to Rider (61-59) and at Loyola (88-85). Offense was tough to come by in the Rider matchup; the Gaels posted a 42% eFG percentage and managed only an 89 OE. At Loyola the offense picked up with a 53% eFG and 113 offensive efficiency. The defense struggled, allowing Loyola an 117 OE on their end.
Notable: Junior Kyle Smyth scored 17 points on 7-13 shooting) in the loss to Rider. Junior guard Scott Machado added 12 points and seven assists.
6. Siena (9-12, 6-5) – The Saints inched over .500 in the MAAC by defeating Loyola 76-59 in Baltimore before edging Niagara 61-59 at home. Siena posted an outstanding 112 OE at Loyola, limiting the Greyhounds to an 87 efficiency on defense. Against Niagara, the Saints shot a torrid 56% eFG mark but a 26% TO rate made this a nail-biter.
Notable: Ryan Rossiter became the second in school historyand just the eighth player in the MAAC to reach the 1,000 rebound mark. Rossiter did it in the win over Loyola.
7. Canisius (10-11, 4-7). Two home games and the Griffs took advantage, before an unsurprising loss at the hands of Rider. They edged Iona 75-73 before handling rival Niagara 69-54. Canisius shot a torrid 63% EFG percentage against the Gaels. They continued to show a hot hand with a 55% eFG performance and 117 offensive efficiency against Niagara. It was reported recently that Kansas State big man Freddy Asprilla will pack his bags for Buffalo to join Tom Parrotta’s troops.
Notable: Julius Coles had 20 points in the win over Niagara. Coles shot 7-12 overall and 4-6 from three in that contest. Senior Elton Frazier added 11 points and seven boards.
8. Marist (4-19, 3-8) Dropped an 85-53 decision at St. Peter’s before returning home and losing a 60-59 heart breaker to Manhattan at the McCann Center. The Red Foxes gave up an 125 efficiency on the defensive end at St. Peter’s. Offensively, they managed just 78 OE. Against Manhattan, they had an outstanding 16% TO rate but again the difference was defense as Marist allowed a 109 efficiency.
Notable: Sophomore swingman Dorvell Carter earned his first career double-double with a 14-point, ten-rebound effort against Manhattan. Carter has started the last seven games for Marist and is averaging 10.9 points and 5.6 rebounds during that time.
9. Manhattan (4-18, 2-9) Split on the road dropping a tough 61-59 decision to Fairfield before edging Marist 60-69. The Jaspers forced Fairfield into a 25% TO rate. The Marist matchup was little on the low scoring side but had offense. Jaspers had an offensive efficiency edge (109-107) and both teams were over 50% eFG percentage.
Notable: Freshman Michael Alvarado hit a 55-foot buzzer beater to defeat Marist. Alvarado had six assists and no turnovers in that game. His shot was termed ‘biggest play in college basketball this year’ by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
10. Niagara (4-19, 1-10). Dropped contests at Canisius (69-54) and Siena (61-59). Niagara averages 69 possessions, but in the Canisius game, it was a 59 possession pace. Despite a slower tempo, the Purple Eagles struggled with a 25% TO rate. Defense was commendable at Siena. Niagara allowed only a 94 efficiency on the defensive end, 11 below their season average.
Notable: Guards Anthony Nelson and Marvin Jordan combined for 42 points against Canisius. Jordan paced all scorers with a career high 23 points in that game. Jordan followed that performance up with 18 points at Siena. Kashief Edwards added the same scoring total against the Saints.
A Look Ahead
- St. Peter’s at Niagara
- Loyola at Rider
- Iona at Fairfield
- Marist at Canisius
- Manhattan at Siena
- St. Peter’s at Canisius
- Marist at Niagara
- Rider at Fairfield
- Loyola at Siena
- Manhattan at Iona