There are far too many possibilities right now to figure out who is going to finish where (other than Fairfield long ago clinching the No. 1 seed for next week's conference tournament), but there is one in particular that is extremely interesting.
Siena and Canisius are battling for the sixth slot in the final regular-season standings. That's significant because teams that finish seventh and lower are required to play a preliminary round game, otherwise known as the "play-in" round, this Friday with winners advancing to join the top six teams in the post-season tournament's quarterfinal-round level.
So, why is it so interesting this year? Eighteen games of regular-season conference play could very easily come down to needing a coin flip to determine which team gets the No. 6 seed and which is No. 7.
Here's the scenario, courtesy of Siena's ever-vigilant sports information director Jason Rich:
If Canisius loses its final game Sunday against Loyola and Siena wins its season-closer Sunday against Marist the two teams would be tied with 8-10 league records.
Still, Siena would need two other favorable results, based on the conference's tie-breaking procedures, to have a chance to get the No. 6 seed. It would also need Rider winning at Saint Peter's and Niagara winning at home against Manhattan.
If all those things happen ... and they're not out of the realm of possibility by any stretch ... then all tie-breakers fail to break a tie should both Siena and Canisius finish with 8-10 MAAC records.
And, then, a coin flip would determine which team gets seeded sixth and avoids the play-in round.
Let's look at the possibilities:
- Loyola would need to beat Canisius. The Greyhounds are 11-7 in MAAC play thus far (Canisius is currently 8-9) and won the earlier meeting, 72-57.
- Rider would need to beat Saint Peter's. Although the Peacocks won the firnst meeting, 80-60, this one is on the Broncs' home court. And, Rider is 6-1 this month with a loss to Fairfield the only setback. It's a important game for Rider, too, in that a victory could secure second place in the final standings. Rider is currently tied with Iona for 2nd, and the Gaels finish up at Fairfield on Sunday.
- Niagara would need to beat Manhattan. The Jaspers edged the Purple Eagles, 51-49 in the first meeting, but this one is on Niagara's home court. Niagara is 4-13 and Manhattan is 3-14 in conference play. The Purple Eagles are finishing with a flourish, having won four of their last six outings.
Bottom line is that outside of Fairfield's relative domination in conference play, a 3-game lead in the standings heading into Sunday's final day of games, the MAAC standings are extremely close for other positions.
Close enough, in one key situation, to have us thinking about the possibility of a coin flip to determine avoidance of a play-in round game for either Canisius or Siena.