It seems like no time passed since both Marist men’s and women’s basketball began their seasons in November. Yet, the teams will be battling for their postseason lives in Atlantic City in a few weeks.
The men and the women each split games over the weekend. John Dunne’s squad blew an early lead and lost against Fairfield on Friday before redeeming themselves with a gritty win over Niagara on Sunday at the McCann Center.
The women started their weekend by notching one of their best victories of the season, beating a solid Manhattan squad on the road on Thursday night. As has been the story for most of 2022-23, the Red Foxes couldn’t consolidate that momentum into something more concrete.
You could argue that the 30-point loss to rival Siena at home on Saturday night was the team’s worst defeat of the season given the circumstances of the game.
Brian Giorgis would prefer to avoid a second consecutive early exit in the MAAC Tournament and John Dunne would like nothing better than to remove the glaring 0-for in postseason play from his resume since taking the job at Marist.
So, with the regular season winding down and both sides of the MAAC looking as hectic as ever, let’s take a look at the seeding and matchup scenarios for both Marist basketball teams.
The Women: With a bye pretty much out of the picture, can the Red Foxes get a favorable first-round matchup?
MAAC Standings 5-8
5. Fairfield 9-8, 13-13
6. Manhattan 8-9, 11-15
7. Marist 7-9, 11-14
8. Mount St. Mary’s 6-10, 10-15
Home losses to Canisius and Rider earlier in February damaged Marist’s hopes of securing a ticket past the first round via a top-five spot in the conference standings. The latest loss to Siena means that sixth-place isn’t guaranteed either.
The win at Manhattan was significant because it guarantees the Red Foxes own the tiebreaker over the Jaspers, should the teams finish the season with the same conference record.
Unless Marist wins out, it will have to play in the first round in Atlantic City. A challenging last four games that feature trips to Fairfield and Iona means the Red Foxes have their work cut out for them down the stretch.
Nabbing the 6-seed would be a preferable outcome because it would guarantee a first-round clash with still winless Saint Peter’s, who is 0-17 in league play and already locked into the bottom spot.
While there are no easy games, especially in March, a matchup with the Peacocks could afford Marist a chance get their legs under them before playing against a higher seed in the next round.
If the Red Foxes go any worse than 2-2 to close the season, it will likely mean a matchup with either Rider or Canisius, teams Marist has failed to beat in three combined attempts this season.
The Jaspers still have games against Iona, Mount St. Mary’s, and Rider remaining.If Manhattan can go 2-1, it will be the team with the inside track to the 6-seed.
Finishing sixth or seventh means an early afternoon game on the first day of action in Atlantic City. The 7-10 game tips off at approximately 12:30 p.m. and the 6-11 game follows at approximately 2:30.
The Men: Can Marist Avoid the Dreaded 6-11 Game?
MAAC Standings: The Bottom Four
8. Mount St. Mary’s 6-11, 10-18
9. St. Peter’s 5-11,10-15
10. Marist 5-12, 9-17
11. Canisius 5-12, 7-19
Depending on how the end of the season unfolds, the Red Foxes could finish in any one of these places. Marist is already locked into a play-in game no matter how you slice it. In any break of the MAAC, these four teams would likely all be in the bottom tier.
Like the women, the schedule is demanding to close things out. The Red Foxes travel to Iona and hosts Quinnipiac on the closing weekend of action. Marist won’t be the favorite in any of its three remaining games with a road trip to Manhattan seeming the most likely spot to steal a victory.
If the Red Foxes can grab another win, it might be enough to avoid finishing last in the league. Marist holds the tiebreaker over Canisius courtesy of a regular-season sweep. The Red Foxes don’t have that same advantage over Saint Peter’s, who swept them.
Besides the ignominy of finishing last, Marist would like to bypass another late night in early March. The Red Foxes have played the nightcap in the last three MAAC Tournaments and have not won any of those games.
The 6-11 or 7-10 game is the likeliest of outcomes for Dunne’s squad. Manhattan and Fairfield currently occupy sixth and seventh place in the MAAC. The Jaspers have managed to salvage a season that looked at the risk of ending before it started after the outgoings of Steve Masiello and Jose Perez. Manhattan beat Marist in December.
The Stags completed the sweep of the Red Foxes over the weekend at McCann. There is a sizable gap between seventh and eighth, so you can expect to see either the Stags or the Jaspers as things stand.
While Marist could prove a lot of people wrong by finding momentum after the win against Niagara, it might need to rely on Canisius to avoid finishing last. The Griffins host their final three games of the season—Saint Peter’s, Fairfield, and Niagara—which all seem a lot more winnable at the Koessler Athletic Center.
All signs point to another challenging first-round matchup for Dunne and the Red Foxes.
Edited by Dan Aulbach
Photo from Luke Sassa