MAAC Basketball Preseason Power Rankings

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference - Wikipedia

The MAAC is a conference that you should start paying attention to. If you’re a fan of uptempo basketball with lots of scoring, you will love watching the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. These are my MAAC preseason power rankings to give you a glimpse of what to expect if you choose to watch this up-and-coming conference in the 2020-21 college basketball season. 

  1. Siena – As much as I (an Iona fan) would love to put my Gaels in the #1 spot, there are simply way too many unknowns on their roster to overcome a Siena team that has an NBA prospect in Jalen Pickett as well as a very solid supporting cast with a good mix of youth and experience. Pickett is reigning MAAC player of the year, and he’ll come back for his junior season being the favorite to win that award once again. They are also potentially bringing back another NBA prospect in Manny Camper, who is testing the 2020 NBA Draft waters but maintaining his eligibility as it is likely he will come back for his senior season. At the end of the day, as long as Pickett is on the roster, there is no reason why the Siena Saints shouldn’t be atop the power rankings going into the 2020-21 season.
  1. Iona – Although there is an incredible amount of unknowns on this team, the Iona Gaels will not drop any further than #2 in the power rankings. Iona made national headlines in mid-March when they signed Hall of Famer, 2-time national champion Rick Pitino to be Tim Cluess’s successor as head coach. What started as excitement about Rick Pitino turned into excitement about the players he recruited. Pitino’s finalized 2020 recruiting class consists of a whopping 9 players, many of which had high major interests. Although Pitino brought in a lot of new names with a lot of potential, it did not come without a cost. Iona lost incoming senior Isaiah Washington, their flashy point guard who became a leader towards the end of the 2019 season. Washington entered the transfer portal after he and the team mutually agreed to part ways. This is undoubtedly an exciting time for Iona basketball, but expect this inexperienced team to go through growing pains in the beginning of the season. 
  1. St Peter’s – Coming in at #3 is St Peter’s. The Peacocks are coming off a very successful season where they finished 2nd in the MAAC and dethroned a 4-time national champion Iona Gaels in the MAAC tournament before the season was cut short due to coronavirus. They have a great young coach in Shaheen Holloway who is the reigning MAAC coach of the year. Although they lost reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year in Aaron Estrada who transferred to Oregon, they bring back a great core of players who have proven that they can compete and succeed in the MAAC.
  1. Manhattan – With just a few miles separating Manhattan and New Rochelle, the Jaspers are still Iona’s little brother as they have been over the past few years. With that being said, Manhattan has been taking steps in the right direction. They had a very average season last year, but their strong 2018 recruiting class made big strides as sophomores in the 2019-20 season. Although they lost their leader, big man Pauly Paulicap, expect Tykei Greene, Samir Stewart, Warren Williams,  Elijah Buchanan, and Christian Hinckson all to have big junior seasons. This team, already with a good core, recently added Seton Hall transfer Anthony Nelson who has 2 years of eligibility remaining. Nelson is a former 3-star recruit from South Kent School who has a lot of untapped potential. Expect Manhattan to make a lot of noise in MAAC play next season.
  1. Niagara – The Purple Eagles got themselves a legit star in Marcus Hammond, a scoring guard who averaged 14.3 points per game as sophomore. Look for him to take another step forward and lead Niagara to a successful 2020-21 season. 
  1. Marist – The Red Foxes have had a lot of rough seasons recently, but next season Marist will have a lot of experienced players who know what it takes to grind through the marathon that is the college basketball season. If this group of players can come together and learn how to be consistent, they are capable of giving the top teams in the MAAC some trouble.
  1. Monmouth – Monmouth could have been a force to be reckoned with in the 2020-21 season, but losing Ray Salnave (transferred to Depaul) will prove to be a monumental loss for them. They will have to rely heavily on incoming senior Deion Hammond, who averaged 16.3 points per game last season, to carry the scoring load and the team in general. 
  1. Fairfield – The Stags will be what they always are. Average. They won’t be at the bottom of the league, but they will also be very far from the top of the league. Ever since Tyler Nelson graduated, Fairfield has never had another star. Until they find their next star, expect Fairfield to be pretty irrelevant. 
  1. Rider – I have a lot of empathy for Rider. They had a very experienced team last year that was playing good basketball going into March, and they had as good a chance as anyone to win the MAAC championship. Unfortunately, coronavirus cut their season short and they lost most of their core, forcing them to go into a rebuild. They lose key seniors Stevie Jordan and Tyree Marshall, and star junior Dimencio Vaughn, who averaged 14.8 points per game last year, is transferring to Ole Miss. Rider will not even be close to the team they were last year.
  1.  Quinnipiac – The Bobcats were not a bad team last year, but that is thanks to 2 people: Rich Kelly, who averaged 16.7 points per game,  and Kevin Marfo, who averaged 13.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Quinnipiac, both of these players transferred. Kelly transferred to Boston College and Marfo transferred to Texas A&M. Look for Quinnipiac to struggle immensely next year. 
  1. Canisius – The Golden Griffins had a rough season last year, and you should expect more of the same next year. Malik Johnson essentially did everything for Canisius last year, as he led the team in rebounds (5.8), assists (5.9), steals (2.0), and was second in points (12.6). Luckily, they return their leading scorer in Majesty Brandon who averaged 13.9 points per game last year, but he cannot single-handedly carry the Golden Griffins to success. Unless multiple players step up in a big way for Canisius, they are in for a miserable season. 

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