Last week, you met each MAAC institution’s most famous graduate. After some intense deliberations, the field of 11 has been whittled down to one. Along the way, we saw upsets, heartbreaks, and maybe even a little chaos.
Center Field’s staff voted on each matchup—from the opening round to the championship—which produced some real close calls and a few surprises.
Without further ado, here are the results.
(6) Elizabeth MacDonald (Canisius) vs (11) Frank D’Amelio (Saint Peter’s)
Our opening matchup, also known as the only one that will begin on time. Both of these schools lack a real notable name, but our choices for each of them are two people who are very well-respected in their industries.
While MacDonald’s background as a journalist endeared her to some of our staff, D’Amelio’s role at Pfizer was more eye-catching for most. The Saint Peter’s representative keeps hopes alive for another big run but will have a tough matchup against Matt Turner in the next round.
Winner: Frank D’Amelio
(7) Joe McCarthy (Niagara) vs (10) Molly Qerim (Quinnipiac)
Another lower seed pulling off an upset here. Only, this comes as a bit of a shocker. You’d figure that a bunch of sports communications students, many of whom are Yankees fans, would give the nod to one of the most accomplished managers in baseball history.
But in March, strange things happen and Qerim certainly presented a difficult opening test. She is the voice of reason on ESPN’s First Take and now has a chance to make a run at this thing after garnering two-thirds of the vote against McCarthy.
Winner: Molly Qerim
(8) Rudy Giuliani (Manhattan) vs (9) Richie Guerin (Iona)
Here’s one with a lot of New York flair. Giuliani has gone from a hero during a national tragedy to someone who helped incite the Jan. 6 riots in the nation’s capital. Guerin, like many basketball players of yesteryear, probably doesn’t get the recognition he should from our generation. When you hold single-game points and assists records for the Knicks, that’s a big deal.
In the end, Giuliani’s notoriety carried him to a pretty comfortable win, setting up a tantalizing matchup between himself and current NYC mayor Eric Adams in the quarterfinals.
Winner: Rudy Giuliani
(1) Eric Adams (Marist) vs (8) Rudy Giuliani (Manhattan)
We got ourselves a gold, old mayor-off in this one. Adams was probably sweating when he saw the matchup, but Giuliani’s tendency to self-implode coupled with some Marist bias helped with escape with a somewhat comfortable 60 percent of the vote.
Even though he’ll have a target on his back as the one-seed, the draw for Adams to make the finals looks pretty favorable.
Winner: Eric Adams (thankfully)
(4) William Kennedy (Siena) vs (5) Digger Phelps (Rider)
Don’t really know what the seeding committee was thinking with this matchup, but unless you’re from the Albany area, Phelps is the clear winner. His resume as the coach at Notre Dame, where he developed a reputation as a giant killer coupled with a TV career makes him the obvious choice.
Our staff agreed, giving him over 85 percent of the vote.
Winner: Digger Phelps
(3) Matt Turner (Fairfield) vs (11) Frank D’Amelio (Saint Peter’s)
Well, D’Amelio, the Saint Peter’s representative really ran into a brick wall in this quarterfinal matchup. No degree of experience at Pfizer can overcome the USMNT’s first-choice goalkeeper who also plays for Premier League-leading Arsenal.
Turner has a chance to win the whole darn thing. At least he’s made it further than the US in the World Cup, probably because there’s only 11 people in this tournament.
Winner: Matt Turner
(2) Joe Engel (Mount St. Mary’s) vs (10) Molly Qerim (Quinnipiac)
Many of the so-called experts figured Molly Qerim would lose to Joe McCarthy in the first round, setting up an all-baseball matchup. Well, not so fast my friend. Qerim’s notoriety from First Take and perhaps some recency bias from our staff got her to this point and she keeps riding the wave against Engel, who doesn’t have much notoriety outside Emmitsburg.
Qerim will have an intriguing matchup in the next round against Matt Turner. We’ll see who wins, player or pundit.
Winner: Molly Qerim
- Eric Adams (Marist) vs (5) Digger Phelps (Rider)
A lot of Hudson Valley connections in this one. While all four one-seeds are already out of the men’s NCAA Tournament, our top dog marches on here. A poll from MAAC-rival Quinnipiac University from early February stated that Adams’ approval rating was just 37 percent with many people concerned about the rise of crime and homelessness in New York City.
But that didn’t stop our writers from overwhelmingly choosing the man who got his master’s from Marist. See you in the final.
Winner: Eric Adams
(3) Matt Turner (Fairfield) vs (10) Molly Qerim (Quinnipiac)
We have a classic Connecticut rivalry (or derby as they call it across the pond) in the second semifinal. Turner came in as the clear favorite but Qerim had other plans, pulling off yet another upset. Turner’s clean sheet against England in the World Cup wasn’t enough to get him past Qerim’s continuous presence on ESPN.
Maybe it’s our fault for constantly having First Take on in the Center for Sports Communication, but Qerim, with over 60 percent of the vote, moves on to face off against Adams.
Winner: Molly Qerim
- Eric Adams (Marist) vs (10) Molly Qerim (Quinnipiac)
Well, here we are. A final between two people who got their master’s degrees at their respective institutions. In a repeat of a few weeks ago in Atlantic City, Marist’s, or in this case, Eric Adams’ run came to a tragic end in the final.
So Qerim takes the cake. Is she the most famous MAAC alumni? That’s what our writers decided, giving her 65 percent of the vote against Adams. Would Qerim have won against Rik Smits, who knows? Having your face on ESPN almost every day and sitting next to Stephen A. Smith certainly demands respect.
Winner: Molly Qerim
Here’s a look at the final bracket:
Edited by Ricardo Martinez