4GuysinBlazers

Can Siena win MAAC Championship?

7 seed and 12 win Siena shocks MAAC and wins tournament title! Sound far-fetched? Pipe dreams of a Siena fan? It shouldn’t, not only has it happened before, it could happen again.

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In 2002 Siena stunned the MAAC by winning four games in four days to steal the conference automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Then, like now, Siena came into the tournament as a 7 seed, having won only 12 games in the regular season. In the 2002 run Siena beat three teams that had defeated them twice in the regular season. This year’s Saints will not have to face a team that defeated them twice until, potentially, the tournament finals. So how could Siena repeat this magic in 2011? Here’s a look at each potential matchup.

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Siena vs Manhattan

I know what everyone is thinking, isn’t this the Manhattan team that just beat the Saints 84-81 three weeks ago in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would have you believe? Yes, that would be the team, but only in the sense of the roster. Let’s be honest, Manhattan was playing at home, Rakeem Brookins and Owen Wignot were out, and Manhattan’s George Beamon had the game of his career. This is not to knock Beamon, he is an excellent player, third in the MAAC in scoring this season, and on any night he can drop 20+pts, but to expect another 35 point output is a stretch to say the least.

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The Saints are a better team than the one that showed up that afternoon. Purely by virtue of having a complete starting five makes them a better team, remove the home court from Manhattan, and Siena is easily looking at making up that 3 pt deficit. Manhattan is a very young team, inexperienced, and does not have the size to matchup with the Saints inside. This is the time of year when Siena’s incredible postseason experience comes into play. Led by Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson, i do not see the Saints losing this game.

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Siena vs Iona

If Siena defeats Manhattan they’d be facing Iona. The Saints are 1-1 vs the Gaels this season, defeating them at the Times Union Center 73-67 and losing at Iona 69-65. Just by virtue of the two games this season, Siena has a legitimate shot at winning this game. In the second meeting of the year the Saints were without Rakeem Brookins and saw only limited bench action. Conversely Iona’s Scott Machado only had 4 pts coming off the bench.

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Iona has a tremenous 1-2 punch in Machado, third nationally in assists, and Glover, 2nd nationally in field goal percentage. The Saints will need to rely on Rossiter shutting down Glover and keeping the Saints in the advantage on the boards. Iona is a terrible free throw shotting team, only 66% on the season, if the Saints keep this one close, they will have a decisive advantage in the final minutes. While this game is far from a certain win for the Saints, they have a good chance of winning this game.

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Siena vs Rider or Canisius

The Saints were 1-1 vs both Rider and Canisius this season, winning at home and losing on the road to Canisius and winning on the road and losing at home to Rider. Clarence Jackson missed both of the Saints loses, a 1 pt defeat to Canisius and an 8 pt defeat to Rider.

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The Golden Griffins are an inconsistant veteran team. On a neutral court with a full roster the Saints can go head to head with Canisius any day of the week. Canisius’ five seniors will certainly look to be a tough out, but if the Saints can control the glass they should win this one with ease.

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Rider on the other hand will be a tougher contest. If the Saints have beaten Iona, they will likely be showing signs of fatigue at this point, which can never be underestimated. Rider has a great inside game and shoots over 40% from behind the arch. The Saints would certainly have their hands full on any night, let alone their third night in three days. This is not to say the task is impossible. The Saints have shown that they can hang with Rider, but the odds start getting longer once you hit this game. The Saints would need big games from Clarence Jackson, Rakeem Brookins, and OD Anosike to go along with Rossiter, because he cannot do this one alone. This is a winnable game, its on a neutral court, but it would be the toughest of the three games they would have played to this point.

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Siena vs Fairfield

There is certainly a chance Fairfield could lose before this game, they have lost 3 conference games this season, but if you’re playing the odds, Fairfield will emerge from the other end of the brackets. Fairfield has defeated the Saints by double digits in each of their meetings this season including by 13 in Bridgeport a week ago. The Saints showed life in the game, but Fairfield pulled away late. If Fairfield is the opponent if the Saints were to get this far, just pray. We’re Siena, we’ve got that going for us right? The Saints are going to need all the help they can get, because Fairfield is an incredibly dangerous team, and has certainly been the cream of the MAAC crop this season.

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Looking for a Siena matchup vs the other possible finals opponent? You’ll have to wait until that game, because this article would be entirely too long. If fate is on the Saints side, Fairfield will lose before a potential finals matchup, because the Saints chances are much better against any of the other teams coming from that side of the bracket. So can the Saints win it all? Yes, of course they can, but they’ll need consistant game play from both their seniors and a little bit of luck, something the Saints have not had much of this season. It has happened before, and it could happen again. We’ll know by next Monday night if we’re celebrating a fourth consecutive trip to the big dance, or if we’re writing retrospectives on our senior class and scouting reports on our incoming freshman. Let’s Go Saints!

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