Monmouth can still lock up the MAAC regular season championship with a win this weekend, but Iona is charging in the latest version of the standings.
We are a week out from having all 11 seeds, but here is the current tournament picture.
Thursday night: 8 Canisius vs 9 Quinnipiac, 7 Rider vs 10 Niagara, 6 Manhattan vs 11 Marist
Friday: 1 Monmouth vs 8-9 winner, 2 Iona vs 7-10 winner
Saturday: 3 Siena vs 6-11 winner, 4 Fairfield vs 5 Saint Peter’s
Here are the numbers that made the penultimate week of conference play:
63 – The number of points Iona senior A.J. English has scored over the last two games. He’s accounted for 37% of the team’s 170 points in their last two games and hit an astounding 11 of his last 21 (52%) three-pointers. The only two-game stretch English has had that is better than his last two would include his 13 for 19 three-point performance in December against Fairfield.
15.3% – The percentage of games decided by less than four points or overtime in the MAAC this season. Only 15 of the 98 games have been by that margin and if this trend continues it will be the lowest percentage of close games since the 2011-12 season (12.2%).
18.6 – The number of points per game Justin Robinson has averaged in the Hawks last six games, all following his career-best 36 point output over Siena.
7 – The current number of conference wins for Canisius. If they fail to win over the weekend it will be just the sixth time in the last 15 years that head coach Jim Baron had a team that finished with seven or fewer wins in conference play.
Tweets of the Week
Justin Robinson, who may likely be the MAAC Player of the Year come next week, reflecting on the last few years
Meanwhile Fairfield has made a significant charge in the standings
Hard not to include this story on Quinnipiac senior Gio McLean, who has taken a crazy journey to get to this point
Quotes of the Week
“From start to finish, we were awful. That sums us up.” – Rider head coach Kevin Baggett on their 84-64 home loss to Siena
“Coach Cluess and everybody on the coaching staff has really been preaching about our defense. He’s always preaching that defense wins championships and that’s the way to success for us. They missed some shots tonight. Coach Cluess has really been punishing us to make sure we play defense.” – Iona senior A.J. English on holding Monmouth to 67 points in their 83-67 win on Friday
“Deon wasn’t going to stop their 20-point lead. That’s not what Deon does. Usually for one night a team will step up and play better when you have a guy injured, for one night. Tonight was not that night for us.” – Monmouth head coach King Rice on if the absence of Deon Jones contributed to their loss against Iona
“We had them beat. We’re leading late, and we’ve been really good with our pressure release stuff for the most part, and at the end of the day, we had a shot that was halfway down.” – Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne on the overtime loss to Monmouth
“There’s a lot of heavyweight fights left. I’m excited about it. The ball’s in our court so to speak. We’ve just got to take care of our stuff. That’s all.” – Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello on the season’s final stretch
Games to Watch: Tues. Feb. 23 Saint Peter’s at Manhattan 8pm ESPN3, Wed. Feb. 24 Siena at Fairfield 7pm, Fri. Feb. 26 Iona at Manhattan 7pm ESPNU & Rider at Monmouth 9pm ESPN2
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.