The MAAC men’s basketball preseason coaches poll was unveiled Tuesday night, with Siena predicted to finish in eighth place.
That . . . would seem to suggest that the Saints are highly unlikely to finish in eighth place.
The MAAC expanded to its current 11-team format for basketball starting with the 2013-14 season. In the eight-season sample of preseason polls since that point, the league’s preseason poll has correctly predicted 13.6% of team finishes — less than the 15.9% of times the poll has seen its prediction for a team be off by five or more spots.
In the MAAC’s last eight polls, selections for individual teams have averaged being off by 2.5 spots compared to end-of-season results. During that span of time, the league’s coaches have been off the most about Siena; on average, the Saints have finished four spots different than predicted. Meanwhile, the preseason poll has best predicted the finish of Monmouth, which has only finished 1.8 spots different, on average, than predicted.
Coaches, of course, generally say a league’s preseason poll is meaningless — and they’re right. Preseason polls generate some buzz and excitement, but little else. It’s likely that the preseason polls of other leagues, too, are relatively unreliable in terms of predicting the end-of-season standings.
Now in his third year leading the Saints, Siena head coach Carmen Maciariello has long been firmly in that camp of not spending too much energy worrying about where his team is picked.
“It hasn’t mattered [to me] when we were picked first and it hasn’t mattered when we were picked sixth,” Maciariello said Monday at his team’s media-day event, referencing the Saints’ preseason selections in 2019 and 2020 polls.
Siena won at least a share of the regular-season championship in both those years. Its preseason selection at No. 1 last season and finish in that spot represented the first time since the 2016-17 season when Monmouth claimed the regular-season crown that the MAAC’s coaches poll correctly made that prediction.
This season? It’s Iona, with Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Rick Pitino at the helm, that earned the preseason No. 1 spot after winning last season’s MAAC tournament. Iona was a unanimous selection atop the poll. Following the Gaels, in order, were Saint Peter’s, Marist, Monmouth, Rider, Fairfield, Manhattan, Siena, Quinnipiac, Niagara and Canisius.
If the average from the previous eight preseason polls holds, one or two of those will be correct.
Just don’t expect it to be Quinnipiac at No. 9; the league’s preseason poll has never correctly predicted the finish of Quinnipiac, the lone MAAC program holding that distinction. Marist, though, at No. 3 could be a solid prediction; the MAAC’s coaches have correctly picked the league’s No. 3 finisher in half of the last eight seasons, selections that account for 33.3% of their accurate picks.
“I don’t know,” Maciariello said when asked why the league’s preseason poll doesn’t tend to be more accurate. “I think you get a lot of guys that don’t take a lot of time to do it. Maybe some overanalyze it.
“But I don’t think it’s really important at all, to be honest. I don’t put any stock into it, so maybe a lot of coaches don’t put any stock into it.”
Siena starts its season Nov. 9 at St. Bonaventure. The Saints’ first MAAC game is Dec. 3 vs. Manhattan.
Siena, which only returns three scholarship players from a season ago, didn’t place any players on the league’s three preseason teams.
Saint Peter’s KC Ndefo was named the MAAC’s preseason player of the year, and he was joined on the league’s preseason first team by Niagara’s Marcus Hammond, Rider’s Dwight Murray, Iona’s Nelly Junior Joseph and Monmouth’s George Papas.
PRESEASON COACHES POLL RESULTS
Saint Peter’s 91
*Unanimous No. 1 selection
PRESEASON ALL-MAAC TEAMS
KC Ndefo, Saint Peter’s; Marcus Hammond, Niagara; Dwight Murray Jr., Rider; Nelly Junior Joseph, Iona; George Papas, Monmouth.
Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac; Dimencio Vaughn, Rider; Kevin Marfo, Quinnipiac; Daryl Banks III, Saint Peter’s; Warren Williams, Manhattan.
Ant Nelson, Manhattan; Malek Green, Canisius; Jake Wojcik, Fairfield; Ricardo Wright, Marist; Shavar Reynolds Jr., Monmouth.