Rider, Other MAAC Teams Exceed Expectations, Show Depth This Weekend

Ari KramerSenior Analyst IINovember 14, 2009

With two games to be played tomorrow, the MAAC has already exceeded expectations this weekend, posting a 6-3 record. Of the nine games, five are more signifcant than the rest.

1) Of course, Rider's 14-point upset of No. 19 Mississippi State is the most impressive. The Bulldogs might have been without Renardo Sidney and John Riek, but the odds of the Broncs exiting the Humphrey Coliseum as victors were still low.

With the win, coach Tommy Dempsey has people thinking that his blasphemous pick—he tabbed Rider over Siena as the No. 1 MAAC team—isn't so implausible.

Also, it looks like Ryan Thompson has an improved supporting cast this year—Mike Ringgold and Novar Gadson each dropped 21 points.

2) A loss is a loss and relinquishing a late seven-point lead is embarrassing. However, Niagara outmatched Auburn the entire game despite losing Tyrone Lewis to an injury in the first half.

Lacking a true big man, the Purple Eagles out-rebounded the Tigers, 38-37. They out-hustled the Tigers and out-shot them.

The loss doesn't bolster the Purple Eagles' resume, but they managed to keep the game close without Lewis. With their leading scorer and strongest defender in the game, Niagara would have flown back to New York 1-0.

3) Again, a loss is a loss. But, Saint Peter's was three seconds away from defeating a Seton Hall team that is supposed to advance a few rungs on the ladder of the Big East.

Unfortunately, Eugene Harvey connected on a prayer and the Peacocks, who were picked to finish sixth in the MAAC, could not pull off the upset.

Saint Peter's out-rebounded a bigger Seton Hall squad by six and showed that the MAAC will be a deep league this year.

4) One might say that Iona's victory over Boston University is meaningless. However, the Gaels were picked to finish ninth in the MAAC while the Terriers were the No. 1 selection in the America East.

Like the St. Peter's game, this win proves the depth of the MAAC—even the bottom of the conference can beat legitimate teams.

5) Marist's seven-point loss to Rutgers this afternoon had the same meaning as the St. Peter's effort and the Iona win.

Yes, Rutgers will finish near the bottom of the Big East once again, but, nonetheless, they are a Big East team and they have Mike Rosario. Marist was picked tenth in the MAAC—points for the league's depth.

Photo from gobroncs.com