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MAAC basketball tournaments start Thursday

MAAC basketball tournaments start Thursday

Siena women play Thursday, men play Saturday
MAAC basketball tournaments start Thursday
The MAAC tournaments start Thursday.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

ALBANY — The MAAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments start Thursday with six games of first-round action at Times Union Center.

A trio of women’s games starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, while the first of three men’s games starts at 5 p.m. The Siena College women’s team plays Thursday at 11:30 a.m., while the Siena men’s team doesn’t play until Saturday night since it earned a bye to the quarterfinals.

Here are five things to know ahead of the tournaments.

A YEAR AGO

Top seeds in both tournaments are defending champions.

In the men’s tournament, No. 1 Iona has won the last three MAAC championships. Before Iona won three consecutive championships, the last MAAC team to do so was Siena from 2008 to 2010. Iona finished 12-6 to win the MAAC regular-season title, while four teams tied at 11-7 behind the Gaels for second place.

Quinnipiac is the No. 1 seed for the women’s tournament after going 18-0 in league play. Fifteen of Quinnipiac’s wins came by at least a dozen points. Quinnipiac won MAAC championships in 2017 and 2018.

LOCAL LOOK

The Siena men’s team is the No. 5 seed after going 11-7 in MAAC play a season after it finished 4-14 in the conference. The Saints play No. 4 Rider Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in their quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to play 6 p.m. Sunday against either Iona, No. 8 Marist or No. 9 Saint Peter’s in the semifinals.

The Siena women’s team is the No. 7 seed and opens with a first-round game against No. 10 Iona. The Saints were 8-10 in conference play after losing seven of their final 10 games. With a win Thursday, Siena would advance to play 3:30 p.m. Friday against No. 2 Rider.

TOP PLAYERS

The MAAC announced its all-conference teams Monday.

First-team selections for the men were Iona’s E.J. Crawford and Rickey McGill, Canisius’ Takal Molson, Siena’s Jalen Pickett and Quinnipiac’s Cameron Young.

Pickett became the first freshman in more than 30 years to earn a first-team selection. He also set a conference record this season with 11 wins of the MAAC Rookie of the Week award.

First-team selections for the women were Marist’s Alana Gilmer and Rebekah Hand, Rider’s Stella Johnson, Quinnipiac’s Aryn McClure and Niagara’s Jai Moore.

WEIRD, BUT TRUE

The MAAC men’s tournament has not had a No. 1 seed win the championship since Siena did in 2010.

Last year, fourth-seeded Iona defeated sixth-seeded Fairfield in the championship game.

GOING AWAY

After this year, the MAAC tournament will leave Times Union Center.

The league made that official last May when it opted to move the tournaments to Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, starting in 2020 as part of a three-year deal. This year’s tournament is the fifth consecutive in Albany.

As part of the shift to Atlantic City, the tournament will no longer run on a Thursday-to-Monday schedule. Instead, it’ll become a Tuesday-through-Saturday tournament that ends the day before the NCAA men’s “Selection Sunday.”

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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