Anybody’s MAAC

By Leo D. Rommel

So, uh, who’s going to this weekend’s MAAC championship?

Don’t look at me. I don’t know.

You don’t know either, huh?

All right, fine, this is how we’re going to figure this out. We are going to take a sheet of computer paper and cut it up into 10 equally portioned pieces. Then, with a black Sharpie, we will write the name of a MAAC school on each piece. No repeats please. Each school gets just one.

Then we will push the pieces off the edge of the table into a 10-gallon hat – so that we can have fun breaking our arms reaching into it – and from that, we will draw a school, one at a time.

You pick first. Siena? Sounds good. My turn.

I pick Niagara. Shucks, they won it two years ago. OK, your turn again.

You pick Iona. You look at me. I give you a sarcastic glance. You catch my drift, crumble up the paper and pick again. Marist? Fine. I go again.

I pick Rider.

OK, here’s our final four for the MAAC: Siena, Niagara, Marist and Rider. Not what I expected, but very well. Dump the other pieces of paper out of the hat and replace them with the four we have in front of us. Pick again, pronto.

You pick Siena. I pick Niagara. We’re almost there.

For the championship, I take both pieces of paper, fold them in half, place them inside my fists and put my arms around my back. Then I flip-flop them back and forth, over and over again. Quick: right or left?

You pick right. Siena. That’s the team we’re going to predict to win it all.

What? You don’t like that method of figuring it out? Suggest a better way of doing it and we will.

That’s what I thought.

Point is, for the first time in quite a few years, the MAAC is a free-for-all. Don’t listen to the hype about Marist. They’re good, but they can be defeated. In actual fact, there is no one dominant team. Every team – oh right, we tossed Iona out, so almost every team – has an equal chance of dancing the jig come Monday night.

Which is good news for Rider, who in spite of being an inconsistent group from time to time, has a roster jam-packed full of talent – particularly offensively, where it is a ticking time bomb set to go off. Then again, the last time I said that, Iona found a way to defuse them. But this time will be different.

Aside from that, I have no idea what wacky and zany things will unfold in Connecticut. I know Niagara has junior forward Charron Fisher, which is like having a tiger on the hardwood, and I know Loyola has Gerald Brown, who’s, you know, pretty good (OK, he’s better than good). But watching Niagara win it again would be like seeing Tom Hanks walk on stage to win Best Actor at the Oscars. Been there, seen that. And Loyola’s nickname is the Greyhounds. And when I think Greyhounds I think buses. So … no.

Then there’s Siena, Manhattan, Canisius and Fairfield. Aside from Fairfield, I’ve seen those teams play and none of them truly wow me. I can’t even remember the name of a player on those teams. That’s not to say they’re not any good. It’s to again emphasize that in this tournament, no one is really all that domineering.

No, I’m not saying Rider’s going to win it all, but hey, they have a shot. Everyone does.

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