MAAC Basketball Tournament Central
Back the Broncs in MAAC-achusetts
The Rider University Men's and Women's Basketball teams compete for a bid to the
2013 NCAA Basketball Championships
March 7-11, 2013
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Tournament
Rider Men 2nd Seed, Rider Women 4th Seed
Women Play #5 Niagara 3:30 Friday, Men Play 7:30 Saturday in Quarterfinals
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Greater Expectations.
Both the Rider men's and women's basketball teams exceeded expectations this year, with the men picked to finish seventh in the MAAC Coaches' Preseason Poll and the Rider women picked to finish sixth. Most publications had both teams finishing lower.
The Rider women's basketball team (15-14, 10-8 MAAC), a best-ever fourth seed, plays the fifth seed, Niagara University (14-15, 9-5 MAAC), Friday, March 8 at 3:30 pm, and the Rider men (18-13, 12-6 MAAC), the second seed, play Saturday at 7:30 pm, in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Tournament, held at the MassMutual Center, against the winner of the #7 Fairfield vs. #10 Saint Peter's game winner.
Expectations now from both teams are even higher than their regular season finishes.
"I can't wait for the tournament," said head coach Lynn Milligan, whose team has won eight of the last 12 games. "This tournament is wide open. I'll take my chances against anyone."
"We are going up there to win," said Rider senior center Caitlin Bopp, who enters the tournament with 935 points and 913 rebounds in 106 Rider games. "This is the highest place we've ever been seeded. We are going into the tournament with every intention in making the championship game."
"Whoever we have to play we'll deal with," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. "This league is tough top to bottom, we know that. But I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to coach. They make it easy. I'm just going along for the ride."
Both the Rider men's and women's basketball teams exceeded expectations, but it seems the end was not justified by the means. The rewards for having superlative seasons are having to face teams they have already lost to twice this year.
The Rider men could face the only team that swept them this year, seventh seeded Fairfield (17-14, 9-9 MAAC), or the tenth seed, Saint Peter's (9-20, 3-15 MAAC), a team the Broncs beat by 12 on the road and by 15 at home.
"We would have liked to have finished first but we are happy to have the number two seed," Bagget said. "I think both Saint Peter's and Fairfield are two really good opponents and we will be excited to play either one in our first round matchup. "
Saint Peter's and Fairfield play Friday at 9:30 pm in the opening round. Fairfield defeated Saint Peter's twice this year, by seven points and by 17 points.
Fairfield comes into the tournament on a three-game losing streak. Picked to finish fourth in the MAAC this year, the Stags jumped out to a 10-5 record, 2-1 in the MAAC, but suffered a five-game losing streak in early January before compiling a five-game winning streak into February.
Saint Peter's lost its last two games, four of the last five and 14 of its last 17 games.
The Rider women face a team that they lost to twice, but both games went to the wire, 64-59 at Rider and 62-58 at Niagara.
The Niagara women, picked to finish second this year, come into the tournament on a two-game losing streak and have lost four of their last six games.
The Rider men come into the tournament with some momentum, having won the final five games of the regular season, the second five-game winning streak of the season, including wins on the road over the first and fifth seeds.
The Broncs won 12 or more MAAC games for the seventh time in 16 years in the conference, and are the second seed for the fifth time.
The Rider women are the fourth seed for the second time in 16 years.
Like the Dickens novel, Rider fans hope this weekend will be a coming-of age story, about the growth and development of these two Rider teams, with intrigue and unexpected twists.
Unexpected to everyone except the two Rider head coaches.