MAAC Basketball Power Rankings: Dec. 24

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2009

I will try to post MAAC Power Rankings every Thursday from here on out. These rankings have nothing to do with how I think these teams will finish the year. It is just what they have done to this point.

1. Niagara Purple Eagles

Record: 8-4, 2-0 MAAC

RPI: 75

There were high expectations for the Purple Eagles after talk of receiving an at-large bid to the 2009 NCAA tournament. They did not please their fans with the way they started the season. Niagara held a late lead on Auburn in their season opener, but blew the game late and lost by four points. In this game, star guard Tyrone Lewis left with a foot injury. He would miss four games.

Niagara went on to win their next four games with only one of those games being against a good team (Central Florida). Their record dropped to 5-3 with losses to Austin Peay and Akron. Now the Purple Eagles are getting hot with three wins in their last four games.

2. Siena Saints

Record: 7-4, 2-0 MAAC

RPI: 57

The Saints were picked to be one of the top mid-majors this season, almost like the next Butler or Gonzaga. They were put in Sports Illustrated's Preseason Top 20. The way that the Saints have played so far is simply disappointing.

Siena have been able to dominate lower competition, but when matched up with better teams, they have failed to win. Their RPI stands at 61, the best in the MAAC. On Wednesday, they beat Rider, securing a spot as No. 2.

3. Fairfield Stags

Record: 8-3, 2-0 MAAC

RPI: 144

The Stags have surprised everybody this year. All three of their losses have come on the road (Maryland, Hofstra, Rhode Island), and two of them have been in close games. They have not beaten any outstanding teams, but they have dominated most teams at their level or below. 

4. Rider Broncs

Record: 8-6, 1-1 MAAC

RPI: 143

Rider caught the nation's eye with a win over Mississippi State at the season's start. Since then, they have struggled against good competition. Other than the win against Mississippi State, the Broncs' best win is against Saint Joe's. They have gotten demolished by Virginia, Kentucky, and Siena; they have lost close games to La Salle and Rutgers. There is still hope for Rider to be one of the top teams in the MAAC later in the season, but they don't have enough on their résumé right now.

5. Iona Gaels

Record: 8-4, 0-2 MAAC

RPI: 150

Iona was picked to finish ninth in the MAAC. It is looking like there is almost no chance of that happening. The Gaels won their first three games before dropping close games to Florida State and Baylor in the Old Spice Classic. They then beat Creighton to take seventh place.

They dropped a heartbreaker to Saint Peter's in the conference opener, and then played well with Siena, despite losing 73-60. Since the loss to Siena, they have four straight, including a win at Providence.

6. Loyola (MD) Greyhounds

Record: 6-5, 0-2 MAAC

RPI: 171

The Greyhounds secured the sixth rank with a win at Indiana on Tuesday. Loyola led by as much as 24 in the first half. The Hoosiers came back to take a lead in the final three minutes. The Greyhounds did not stop fighting and won 72-67.

They also have a big win against Morgan State.

7. Manhattan Jaspers

Record: 6-5, 1-1 MAAC

RPI: 157

The Jaspers were red hot at the end of November and into early December, having a stretch where they won four out of five games. Following a win at Canisius, the Jaspers lost to Hofstra and Morgan State. Last Saturday, then beat Long Island University to end their slide. 

8. Canisius Golden Griffins

Record: 6-6, 1-1 MAAC

RPI: 175

Canisius lost four straight after winning their first game of the month against Loyola (MD). After that streak, they beat Southern Miss and New Orleans to  bring their overall record to .500. 

9. Saint Peter's Peacocks

Record: 5-6, 1-1 MAAC

RPI: 229

The Peacocks have come so close to winning so many times, but they have struggled to finish off their opponents. Their best win is at Iona. 

10. Marist Red Foxes:

Record: 0-9, 0-2 MAAC

RPI: 346

The Red Foxes have been atrocious this year. All hope was lost when Villanova transfer Casiem Drummond was declared ineligible for the second semester. Marist's RPI is second to last in the country, only to Houston Baptist.

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