Here’s the men’s predicted order of finish, from a preseason vote of conference coaches. And, remember, these selections were made in late August.
3) Saint Peter’s
SOME THOUGHTS: Fairfield got six of 10 possible first-place votes, Siena got three and Saint Peter’s one.
Again, remember, these picks were made even before preseason conditioning drills were held, which means before Peacocks’ standout Wesley Jenkins suffered a knee injury. Jenkins' status won't be fully known for at least another two weeks, according to Peacocks' coach John Dunne. At that point, it should be known whether the senior guard can began preparing for a return, probably by early December, or if he'll require surgery and redshirt for the coming season.
There’s no discounting the Stags as the MAAC’s best team, for now, provided it can stay healthy. Fairfield has the best group of perimeter players in a league where that counts for plenty. However, it looks to be a little thin up front, which means it won’t hold the dominant sway over the league that Siena had for the past three seasons.
It means the conference regular-season chase for a championship will be the traditional proverbial dog fight with the likelihood that any of the top four or five teams will be in title contention down the final weekend of play.
It says here that the coaches made a few mistakes. Saint Peter’s, without Jenkins, probably wouldn’t have been picked as high as third. And your blogger picked Siena to finish fourth in a preseason preview done for The Sporting News’ College Basketball Magazine. My revised prediction has Fairfield on top, followed by Iona, Siena and Saint Peter’s. And, look out for Loyola, which could easily creep into the top four. Your blogger also believes that Niagara won’t finish as low as eighth. The only certainties this year appear to be another last-place finish for inexperienced Marist and a ninth-place finish by a Manhattan team hurt by graduations and defections that will rely heavily on a large group of newcomers.