- With MAAC tournament now down to four teams, it is known that intriguing matchups are in store.
A game that seems to be gaining attention is the Sunday night game at the Times Union Center between two-seeded Iona and three-seeded Siena.
Iona is a regular in the MAAC final four, as they got here by defeating Canisius on Friday by a score of 73-55, less than 24 hours after Canisius had beaten Niagara in the opening round Thursday in a triple overtime thriller, 102-97.
Obviously, Sunday’s game is not expected to get that high-scoring, but there is always a chance of that with their high-flying offense under head coach Tim Cluess and star senior and All-MAAC first team member AJ English. This led them to a 20-10 record this year, and they went 16-4 in conference play.
English has had a phenomenal senior year, averaging 22.2 points per game. He had 20 on Friday night and also added on 10 assists.
Siena got to this point by going 21-11 overall, 13-7 in the conference, good for the three seed in the conference tournament. They picked up an 89-76 quarterfinal win on Saturday over Manhattan, clinching their spot in the MAAC’s Final Four. Brett Bisping led the way for Siena Saturday with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Lavon Long had 17, and Troy grad Javion Ogunyemi had 16 points.
Siena freshman Nico Clareth is a key player to watch Sunday, as he was put into the starting lineup for Siena to play Manhattan Saturday after coming off the bench and winning the MAAC sixth man of the year this season. His energy brings life to the Siena offense, which has been really clicking for the first time since their CBI championship in 2014. Clareth is averaging 13 points per game this season.
These two squads have met twice this season. They first met on February 13th in New Rochelle, a game that was won by Siena 81-78. They met in Albany just nine days later on February 22nd, and Iona had the upper hand, winning 87-81. This was only after they had led by as much as 25 during the game, and Siena had come back late and tied it in the final minutes, but Iona pulled away.
This game will be played after the game between Monmouth and Fairfield, and both games can be seen on ESPN3.
My score prediction: Iona: 75, Siena: 72.