Every school in the MAAC has officially announced its 2016-17 schedule, which means it’s a great time to hand out some scheduling awards.
Different schools have wildly different scheduling philosophies and that’s even more apparent when looking at this season’s cross-section. Let’s take a look.
Toughest Schedule: Siena Saints
Siena consistently challenges itself on the national stage and this season will be no different, as Jimmy Patsos will take his team to George Washington, Kansas, St. Bonaventure and Hofstra. In addition, the Saints will play cross-town rival Albany and strong mid-majors such as UNC Asheville, Vermont, Bucknell and Florida Gulf Coast. What’s just as impressive is the lack of cupcakes on the schedule. The Saints play just two teams that finished 250 or lower in the Pomeroy rankings last season, tying Manhattan for the fewest among any MAAC non-conference schedule.
Notables: Manhattan, Monmouth
Looking For The Wins: Iona Gaels
It’s not that Iona’s schedule isn’t challenging. The Gaels will play at Florida State and take on a good UCSB team in Las Vegas. It’s just that Tim Cluess and his staff understand the level their team is at and schedule accordingly. The game at FSU is Iona’s only one against a team that finished in the Top 100 of Pomeroy last season. But the Gaels also don’t play any awful teams either (though playing at Delaware at the end of non-conference looks like a trap). The schedule sets the Gaels up for an excellent record coming out of non-conference season—and maybe even a Great Alaska Shootout title?
Notables: Saint Peter’s, Fairfield
Easiest Schedule: Niagara Purple Eagles
I’m sure Chris Casey wants to instill some confidence in his young team after they finished 7-25 a season ago, but Niagara’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule might work better as a confectionary shop because of how many cupcakes are in it. The Purple Eagles play seven teams that finished 250 or higher in Pomeroy last season, including at Hartford (314), at North Texas (288), versus Youngstown St. (272), and at LIU Brooklyn (282). A few of those schools—and Rutgers, which is also on the list after finishing 291st—should improve this season, but there’s still way too much sugar in this diet. And considering how many of those games are on the road, it might need even lead to too many wins.
Notables: Rider, Fairfield, Saint Peter’s
You Missed A Spot: Saint Peter’s Peacocks
John Dunne’s team will play nine non-conference games this season, including three in three days in early November at Fordham. (It’s still 29 total games thanks to the MAAC’s grueling conference schedule, but it’s fewer than every other school.) This will make for a light schedule during the first two months. That said, most of the games are winnable if SPU catches some breaks, so the Peacocks could be an early-season surprise.
10 Games To Look Forward To:
- Niagara vs. Buffalo (Nov. 11)
- Monmouth at South Carolina (Nov. 16)
- Iona at Nevada (Nov. 20)
- Saint Peter’s vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (Nov. 20 at Fordham)
- Rider at Wagner (Nov. 26)
- Siena at Albany (Nov. 27)
- Fairfield vs. Bucknell (Dec. 6)
- Manhattan vs. Fordham (Dec. 10)
- Monmouth vs. Princeton (Dec. 20)
- Siena at Hofstra (Dec. 22)
- Iona at Great Alaska Shootout
- Iona at South Point Holiday Hoops Classic
- Quinnipiac at Advocare Invitational
- Marist at Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament
I Like These: Iona, Manhattan, Monmouth, Siena, Fairfield
Ok I Guess: Saint Peter’s, Rider, Quinnipiac, Canisius
Obviously Rebuilding: Niagara, Marist
Can’t wait for November!