2019 MAAC Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Handicapping a Wide-Open Bracket
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Iona guard Rickey McGill
- We're handicapping the futures odds for the 11-team MAAC tournament, which is arguably the most wide-open of any of the 32 conference tourneys.
- Iona (+275), seeking a fourth straight title, arrives in Albany as the betting favorite — but the Gaels are far from a lock in a league that has a ton of parity this year.
The MAAC tournament will get underway on Thursday, March 7 in Albany, N.Y., when the bottom six seeds compete for the final three spots in the quarterfinals.
This is arguably the most wide-open conference tournament of the 32, as you could make a realistic case for numerous teams. The MAAC doesn’t have one elite team that is clearly superior to the rest of the field in what was an extremely down year for the conference.
Just look at No. 11 seed Niagara, which had just one fewer win on the season than No. 1 seed Iona. Eight of the 11 MAAC teams finished with an overall sub-.500 record.
Let’s take a closer look at the field to decipher where the futures value may lie.
2019 MAAC Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: All 11 MAAC teams
- Format: Single elimination (top 5 seeds get bye into QF)
- When: March 7-11
- Where: Albany, New York
- How to Watch: ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPN2
- Defending Champion: Iona
Who Should Win?
This is a completely wide-open tourney, but Iona (+275) has to be considered the favorite to win its fourth consecutive MAAC Tournament.
Iona head coach Tim Cluess simply knows how to win this tournament. Since his arrival in 2010, Cluess has taken the Gaels to the final in seven of eight years — including each of the past six seasons. Iona won the first MAAC tourney ever held in 1982 and the last three to make it 11 total in program history.
This isn’t your older brother’s Iona, but the Gaels do arrive in Albany as the league’s hottest team after closing the year with seven straight wins. Also, five of their six conference losses came by five points or fewer.
The Gaels had the most efficient offense during conference play and they want to play fast. Iona also excels at the free throw line (75.4% during MAAC play), which could make all the difference in such a wide-open tournament. Iona doesn’t have a ton of depth, but it makes up for that weakness with experience, as all of its primary contributors are upperclassmen.
There are two other realistic contenders in Iona’s half of the bracket:
- Siena (+440) is a snail and will grind in extremely ugly games. In fact, only Virginia has a lower Adjusted Tempo nationally.
- Rider (+385) wants to play the complete opposite way, as it ranks ninth nationally in Adjusted Tempo. I should note that Rider is absolutely horrid from the line, shooting 61.4% on the season (bottom 5 in the country).
Those two teams face each other in the 4/5 matchup (talk about a contrast in styles) to determine who plays Iona in all likelihood. With each of the three teams all priced below 5-1, I’m avoiding futures in the top half of the bracket like the plague. It wouldn’t shock me if any one of those three made the final.
For a potential sleeper in the MAAC, I think you have to focus on the bottom half of the bracket.