Another installment in a series looking at the chances of teams in the upcoming men's MAAC tournament.
Up now, Saint Peter's.
No. 4 seed Saint Peter's (11-7 in MAAC play, 16-13 overall).
SEASON ANALYSIS: The Peacocks still have a youthful group, staring three juniors and two freshmen in recent games, and there isn't a single senior on the roster. Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon comprise one of the better backcourts in the conference, Ryan Bacon is one of the more-athletic inside players and Darius Conley is a bruising post presence. A year ago Saint Peter's won 11 games overall. This year it has 11 victories in conference play alone. If it gets one victory in the tournament, it would finish with the program's most victories in a season since 2005-06.
Coach John Dunne has done a terrific job bringing back a program that had very little talent in place after the graduation of Keydren Clark after the 2005-06 season. This year's team pretty much won the games it was expected to, finishing 10-2 against the bottom six finishers in the MAAC but only 5-1 vs. the top three squards (Siena, Fairfield, Iona).
HOW SAINT PETER'S CAN WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Better offensive chemistry, particularly if it gets to the semifinal round where it would match up with Siena. The Peacocks had a home-game opportunity to knock off the Saints (playing without Edwin Ubiles that night), but only managed 58 points while struggling to get any kind of good look at the basket all night. Clearly, though, Jenkens and Leon are gifted offensive players, but Bacon needs to have some big games in this event for Saint Peter's to continue to advance.
WHY SAINT PETER'S WON'T WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Not enough offensive consistency. Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos calls the MAAC "a scoring league," and that's true. Teams that struggle to score won't do well in this setting, and Saint Peter's struggles to score on too many nights.
PREDICTION: The quarterfinal matchup with Rider is one of the best ones of the tournament., The pick here is that the Peacocks sneak past the season-long underachieving Broncs before losing a competitive semifinal against Siena.
WHAT'S NEXT? The Peacocks are finished for the season when they lose in this tournament, but the future is indeed bright. Every player on the roster returns, theoretically better. Playing together over an extended period never hurts. The Peacocks might have struggled a little this season with fitting in some new parts. But, there will be no lack of familiarity a year from now and Saint Peter's will be among the top teams in the league and a legitimate championship contender next season.