Monday, March 5, 2012

Speculation Begins on Nat'l Tournament Possibilities

It appears that the MAAC will be well-represented in upcoming national post-season tournaments.

Marist, by virtue of its chamionship game victory over Fairfield in the women's event, gets an automatic bid to the NCAA event.

Fairfield, now 24-8 overall, gets an automatic bid to the WNIT, by virtue of finishing second to a regular-season champion that qualified for the NCAA event.

And, 16-15 Manhattan, which finished third in regular-season women's play, will receive a bid to the Women's Basketball Invitational, according to its head coach John Olenowski.

Until seedings and match-ups are announced for the women's NCAA tournament on March 18, there will be much speculation on where 25-7 Marist will be seeded.

"It really doesn't matter, as long as we're in," said Marist coach Brian Giorgis. "It will probably be anywhere from 11th to 15th (in a 16-team bracket). I think we've achieved enough to be from 11 to 14, but anything can happen.

"When you look at it, we're probably not getting a No. 10 seeding position. But, we just wanted to get in. We didn't think we'd get in this year without winning this tournament. We talked all year, like we always do, that it comes down to three days in March (the three games of the MAAC tournament)."

On the men's side, tonight's championship game winner advances to the NCAA tournament.

Joe Lunardi, the bracketologist for ESPN, projects Loyola to win tonight's game and be seeded 15th in a 16-team bracket for the NCAA event.

If 19-13 Fairfield wins, it might be looking at a No. 16 seed.

Iona, the event's top seed that was knocked out in Sunday's semifinal round by Fairfield, looks like it will have to accept its automatic bid to the NIT (given to the regular-season champion provided it isn't included in the NCAA field).

The Gaels are now 25-7 with some good wins in non-conference play, but four losses against MAAC oppoents (three in the regular season) don't help its case.

Lunardi does not include Iona in his projected NCAA field, and rates the Gaels only the sixth-best team not included in his predicion of NCAA participants.

If Iona does indeed wind up in the NIT, it might be alone there.

If Loyola loses tonight's championship game, it it likely to get strong consideration for the NIT field. Fairfield could potentially get NIT consideration if it loses tonight, but would most likely be included in one of the other men's lesser post-season events.

And, Manhattan, which lost a quarterfinal-round contest to Siena on Friday night, has a 20-12 overall record and is also likely to wind up in a post-season event.

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