There's a definite eye-brow raiser in this year's selections for the men's order of finish, as voted on by conference coaches.
Of course Siena, which lost one starter from the team that has gone to the second round of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, is an overwhelming pick to finish first.
But, not a unanimous choice. The Saints only received nine of the 10 first-place votes. The voting results were released today (Tuesday) at the conference's annual media day in New York City.
Rider, picked to finish third overall, received the other first-place vote.
Here's the predicted order of finish, with points received based on 10 points for a first-place vote and one for a last-place prediction:
1. Siena (9 first-place votes) 88
2. Niagara 87
3. Rider (1) 82
4. Fairfield 67
5. Loyola 45
5.. Saint Peter's 45
7. Canisius 43
8. Manhattan 40
9. Iona 30
10. Marist 12
And, a little editorializing ...
Yes, it is indeed a shock that Siena did not receive all 10 first-place votes. League officials do not reveal the voting breakdown, so your guess as to Rider's supporter is as good as any.
A number of internet message boards are reporting that the Broncs' Tommy Dempsey voted for his own team as the preseason favorite.
Again, the MAAC does not release that information publicly. But, as a former "news hound," I know reporters have a way of finding out these things.
If Dempsey did indeed vote for his own team, it's understandable. His Broncs beat Siena in the regular season, and have lost just one starter from a year ago. Rider most-definitely will be in contention again this year, after a third-place finish a year ago.
Dempsey's vote is probably his way of confirming to his own players his level of confidence in their abilities. of course, I can't speak for Dempey's intent. Maybe he does indeed truly think the Broncs are the MAAC's best team.
For sure, it precipitates some healthy debate. And, it's not as if he's the coach of one of the lower-level teams giving his team an unworthy level of support with a preseason vote.
Dempsey's team is most definitely one of the better ones in the conference this season. Is it the best team in the league? Probably not. But, that's what the games are about.
Otherwise, the top three are pretty much as expected.
Yours truly happens to think that Saint Peter's is the conference's fourth-best team, particularly in light of continuing injury situations at Fairfield and some transition involving newcomers who will contribute at Loyola.
Otherwise, no debate here.