Bracket Buster No. 5: Siena

Justin KundratCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2009

The Siena Saints have secretly become one of the hottest teams in the country. No, they don’t really have a signature win or a key upset over some top 25 team, but they do have a five-game winning streak and a 9-0 MAAC record. After their 17-point victory over second place Niagara on Saturday, it became very clear that Siena was the best team in the conference.

The Saints have an extremely efficient offense, converting on 47.2% of their shots and commiting the fewest turnovers in the league at 13.6 per game. And although they don’t really blow teams out (+6.5 margin), they don’t get blown out either.

Siena’s lack of size is the reason that they were unable to compete with some of the bigger teams earlier in the season (Pittsburgh, Kansas, Tennessee), but in the MAAC, there has been no such problem. They only have one player taller than 6′7", yet the Saints have found a way to out-rebound opponents through aggression and physical defense.

Led by senior guard Kenny Hasbrouck (12.9 ppg), Siena is almost guaranteed an NCAA tournament bid now.

While they may not run the table and go undefeated in conference play, they are the most talented and defensive-minded team in the league, and should have no problem winning the conference.

The Saints are ranked 15th in the RPI with a 15-5 record and are now playing with heads full of confidence, which is the most dangerous attribute of any bracket buster. Davidson went into last year’s tournament on a HUGE winning streak, and look at the mayhem they created.

If Siena, who knocked off fourth seeded Vanderbilt in the first round of last year’s tournament, is able to do the same, we could be looking at a hell of a bracket buster.

Now if only they could improve that ugly 63.6% free-throw shooting…

Key Upcoming Games:

2/7: at Rider
2/27: at Niagara (ESPNU)

This article is featured on www.thebracketbusters.com and is part of an on-going series to raise awareness of dangerous mid-major teams.

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